Title: The Grace Year
Author: Kim Liggett
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
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.
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
“Speaking of the grace year is forbidden, but it hasn’t stopped me from searching for clues.”
Imagine living in a world where girls have so much power that they can lure men from their wives and their families. That their very essence and womanhood holds a magic that, if allowed to survive inside their skin, could drive the whole county into madness.
In Garner County, they’ve found a solution to this danger. In their sixteenth year, girls are banished into the wilderness. There, they can release their magic safely and return pure and ready to begin their lives with whichever man chose them prior to leaving – if they survive the year. This is called the Grace Year.
Speaking of the grace year is forbidden, but that hasn’t stopped Tierney James from digging with her friend Michael. She dreams of a world where she doesn’t have to belong to a man to find a place in society, and when the veiling ceremony comes the day before she leaves for her own grace year, she is confident that she is safe knowing no one would possibly choose her to be their wife upon her return. All of her plans are changed, however, when she ischosen, and by someone she never expected.
“Veiled or not, depraved or saints, we’re all equals in death.”
Still reeling from watching her future dissolve into something she never imagined before her very eyes, Tierney leaves for her grace year with the other girls. Before they even arrive at the camp, danger lurks in every corner. Poachers trail the girls, waiting for them to wander off the path to gather their skin and blood to sell on the black market. But even more than that, Tierney realizes that their biggest danger, and the biggest threat for the year to come…is each other.
You guys, I absolutely loved this book. This may be one of the best 2019 releases I’ve read thus far. This book is a little bit Handmaid’s Tale, a little bit Lord of the Flies, and a little bit Hunger Games. The writing was gripping and fast-paced – I didn’t want to put this one down. I stayed up way to late reading it, and even downloaded the audio book so I didn’t have to stop reading when I was cleaning/walking/driving. Basically, I had my nose in this book from the time I opened up the first page.
I loved Tierney with my whole heart. It’s obvious that she’s your typical 16-year-old girl just trying to find her way in the world. Can we just pause and appreciate that for a minute? I love that this book highlighted how much one ordinary girl can change things. No special powers, no hidden talents, no high station. Just a girl following her heart and using her brain, and showing kindness where others wouldn’t. And it was so relatable watching her try and navigate the relationships between other girls her age as they are all just trying to grow up the best they can. I felt like I was back in the lunchroom at school: you had your popular/mean girls and your loner girls, and that one girl that everyone whispered about and avoided. Watching these power struggles occur, even so far from civilization, and then spiral out of control as the girls realized just how alone they really were, was honestly terrifying.
“I know what I saw. I know what I felt. They can call it magic. I can call it madness. But one thing is certain. There is no grace here.”
This book brought so many important issues up: how important it is for women to support women, and that we remain stronger united than we are divided. How one helping hand, one moment of kindness, can change an entire outcome for the better. How true love knows no reason. And how one person, one action, can change the world for the better. This book makes you take a hard look at who you really are: what would you do if there were no consequences for your actions, and no one to hold you accountable? Would you help others up? Or would you crawl over them as the fell to reach the top?
This book made me feel so many raw, brutal emotions. I laughed, I cried, I raged. I grieved for the brutality of people left unchecked, and I marveled at the hopefulness felt at the female camaraderie shown at the end. There was no happy ending, but there was a hopeful ending. And maybe that’s the best we can ask for. There were some truly horrific things that happened in this book, so I urge you to go in with caution. But if you can weather the storm and make it to the end, I promise that you’ll be left with such a bright feeling of hope and strength that you won’t regret the journey.
“The things we do to girls. Whether we put them on pedestals only to tear them down, or use them for parts and holes, we’re all complicit in this. But everything touches everything else and I have to believe that some good will come out of all this destruction. The men will never end the grace year. But maybe we can.”
All quotations are taken from an ARC and are subject to change prior to publication.
The Grace Year released on Oct 8, 2019.