Friday, July 2, 2021

The Grace Year - Kim Liggett

Title: The Grace Year
Author: Kim Liggett 
Format: Hardcover 
Rating: 4 Stars 


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.


This is the only book I've read in recent years that comes close to the incredible story that is The Hunger Games.  Many have tried, many have failed.  

The Grace Year sees a county where the adults send all the girls aged 16 out into the outskirts to spend a year ridding themselves of the magic that all girls and women possess.  While there they engage in behaviors that drive themselves and each other to the brink of madness.  

This was definitely one of my favorite books for the month of June. Wild, angry, and downright hostile, this book drew me in with its premise and held my attention with its well written characters and dynamic story.  

The reason I was gripped by these characters is because they were so well written. They were ferocious, each in their own way, and they had so much about each of themselves that it was so easy for the reader to catch on as to why each one became who she did throughout the book.  From the very beginning, you could tell that each character, including the ones being cast out into the outskirts, was so distinct and so strong in their way.  I could tell why each character was how she was just based off the first couple chapters.  I could see why they were all so scared, yet so commanding in a way.  They were all right there in your face, and I wanted to know what happened to each and every one of them.

There were so many turns in this book.  Each moment played into the next moment very well. There was a lot of good foreshadowing in this book.  The author foreshadows well, and doesn't give too much away though.  You know something is going to happen, but what exactly and when is what you get to find out.  With each twist, you're left thinking that you know how this book is going to end, and then there's another twist, and the author leaves you wondering. 

I loved that there were some surprises throughout this book. I could not have suspected exactly what was going to happen between Tierney and Riley, for example, until they actually met in person.  Clearly someone was looking out for Tierney, and it was exciting to learn how and why, and to watch their relationship develop.  

The dynamics in each family were interesting as well.  Most of the focus was on Tierney's family, and watching her learn about her parents, and come to the realization that they were not as bad as she thought was interesting.  She had a very one sided view of them based on one thing that she learned, and it took her some time in the wild to realize who they really were and why they did what they did. 

The entire idea behind this book and books like it is scary, yet fascinating.  You know people are going to die.  You know some people are probably going to die at the hands of someone else.  And you want to fault whoever does the killing, but it's not the fault of these young girls at all.  They are so brainwashed into believing that what's happening to them is right, and that this is the way.  They are taught their entire lives to look at the grace year as something the have to do because they are dirty, and magical, and because they have to ride themselves of that magic to be proper, suitable wives. As a society, we don't want to think we could ever become like this, and I think that's why these books are so appealing to people.  They take the absolute worst thing that could happen, turn it into a story, and we become fascinated by it.  

All that being said, I don't know if we'd ever become as dramatic as books like The Grace Year (or The Hunger Games), but we do need to guard ourselves more as a society and look at the way we treat women and girls, and kids.  

All in all, this was a well written wonderful book that I'd recommend to anyone looking for a gripping story. This book does not disappoint. 

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