Title: The Grace Year
Author: Kim Liggett
Genre: YA Dystopian
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Blurb: Survive the year.
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.
Review: I haven’t read a book that would just not let me put it down in a very long time. I literally could not stop reading it. I finished it in one day.
This book has been all over the blogosphere over the past month or so. I first fell in love with the cover, and then I heard it described as a cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and The Hunger Games. Which it is, sort of, but it’s also it’s own thing.
This story world is brutal. I don’t know where Garner County but I don’t want to go there. It’s a psuedo-Christian community – they don’t talk much about Jesus, but the fall of Eve is pretty much everything their society is based on. It’s the reason that women have no voice and are completely controlled by first their fathers and then their husbands. Their control is absolute and never questioned. For example, an older man decided he wanted a younger wife. He accused his current wife of some sort of blasphemy or corruption. She was hanged in the town square, after being reviled by the rest of the townspeople, and the man gets his pick of the Grace Year girls for that year to take as his new wife. Mind you, they go on their Grace Year when they are sixteen. The Grace Year is supposed to purge the girls of their “magic,” but you find out that there are many things that these girls are lied to about, both about the Grace Year and their world in general.
Now let’s talk about our main character. I love Tierney. She’s awesome. She is very much one of the archetypal girl-with-progressive-thoughts-stuck-in-repressive-society, but she is also more than that. There are parts of her life that she genuinely appreciates and honors. She wants to work in the fields to be close to the earth and the flowers. She loves her family, especially her sister June and her two younger sisters. She’s a fighter, but she’s also very practical. When they arrive at their encampment where they will live during their Grace Year, it is Tierney who starts figuring out how to survive by building a barrel to collect rain water and cataloging their rations. She doesn’t want to leave their survival to just plain chance.
This story is very psychological and has some very disturbing elements. For example, they have to worry about being kidnapped while out in the wilderness because people outside of their society like to steal the Grace Year girls in order to harvest their blood and other body parts to sell on the black market in order to capture some of their magic. Yeah, it’s pretty gruesome. It also lends an atmosphere of abject horror throughout the story. Even more dangerous are some of the other Grace Year girls. The leader of the snobbish clique, Kiersten, is one of the most manipulative characters I’ve read about in a long time. She is scary, just in a different way.
In case you couldn’t tell, I highly recommend this book. It’s so good.
GoodReads rating: 5 stars all the way!
Categories: Books I've Read