Wednesday Books (October 8, 2019)
No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.
In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.
Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life―a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.
With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.
The Grace Year is reminiscent of Lord of Flies
Tierney, our main character, lives in a small county that strictly controls the lives of its female citizens. Women are not allowed to meet in groups without men present. A woman can be punished with a whipping to her back for the simple transgression of taking a bath with rose petals in the water. The day before leaving for the “Grace Year”, each woman is paraded around town for the men to choose a future wife. The women have absolutely no control of whom they’ll marry.
There are so many challenges to the girls’ survival during their Grace Year. While contained to an enclosed area with little means for survival, they quickly establish a hierarchy. It’s the first time any of them are without the instruction and supervision of men. The new freedom of self control leaves many of them lost. Few of them are able to make decisions for themselves.
Four seasons of survival = four chapters of the story.
**EDIT** This issue has been fixed in the ebook. Trust me, The Grace Year is a must-read! I’m disappointed to give this book only a 3.5-star rating because The Grace Year is truly a great story and it had me hooked. I definitely binge read this within three days (I have kids so I can’t read books in 1 day). This book could have easily been 4.5-stars if the formatting were correcting to include at least page breaks. The Grace Year is only separated into four “chapters”, one per season of the year. While the story is solid, the lack of true page breaks or chapter breaks is distracting to the story. In one paragraph Tierney could be asleep, then the next paragraph she’s awake and talking in a different place entirely. It causes momentary confusion and pulls you out of the moment. I hope this is revised before the book’s release in September 2019.
Kristin lives in the PNW with her husband, and three kids. She loves to read YA fiction, fantasy, and romance. She’s recently entered the world of “Booktok” on Tiktok, and is having way too much fun following the trends of young folks. The only shows she watches are re-runs, and if she’s not reading a book she’s listening to one.