Title: The Grace Year
Author: Kim Liggett
Audience: Young Adult
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Source: Giveaway – choice book
Recommended for Fans of: The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale
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.
“We are the only Gods here.”
This is a really important read about the expectations and restrictions placed on girls. Even though this story takes place in a dystopian society, too much rings true in our own society today. I completely understand all the comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale and Lord of the Flies, with a dash of The Hunger Games and Mean Girls.
Tierney is a strong and smart protagonist who knows there is more to the grace year than it seems. As she seeks the truth, she discovers that the lies about the grace year are darker and deeper than she could have imagined.
The author previously published horror books, and there are clear horror influences in The Grace Year. The descriptions of the things the girls do to each other are violent, brutal, and gruesome.
This story illuminates what girls will do to each other to gain the upper hand, but it also shows the amazing things that can happen when women choose to come together and look out for each other. The grace year is meant to break and subdue women, but spending a year unbound by law and limits gives the girls a taste of freedom to savor and hold onto.
This wasn’t quite a five star read for me. The book dragged a bit in the middle and got a little off course. Additionally, I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending. Throughout the book Tierney looks for ways to change her society for the better, but at the end I’m not left with the sense that large-scale change is inevitable, even though it seems there is progress. I also wonder what happened in this society to make men so afraid of women that their only recourse was to break and control them. However, I can’t stop thinking about this story, because even though it is fiction, it feels so close to a potential reality.