Title: The Grace Year
Author: Kim Liggett
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication date: October 18th, 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.
“I feel dead inside. But maybe that’s exactly what I need to get through this.”Kim Liggett, The Grace Year
I highly anticipated The Grace Year when I received it in my monthly Owlcrate subscription box last year. I won’t say I was disappointed with these read, but it didn’t go anywhere that I expected it to. Again, not a bad thing – but it did throw me off with the plot. I expected something more closely related to The Hunger Games, but it quickly evolves past that initial plot line into something much different.
Tierney is embarking on her grace year, where she is meant to dispose of her magic for a year before returning to the county to be a wife. However, Tierney had no interest in the tyranny (get it?) of the menfolk in the county and desperately wants a chance to escape. But the woods hold many dangers for the grace year girls – the elements, poachers looking to slice & dice them to be sold, and each other.
While reading, I had to take a break from this book due to my distasteful feelings in regards to how women were depicted and treated in the book. Kim Liggett wrote a fictional, but closely related to our reality, world that called a lot of current practices into question. Sometimes it is hard to read knowing that this is merely exaggeration, not complete fiction. As a female, I often need breaks from this. But, that doesn’t make this work any less important. The Biblical undertones were not surprising and led to a lot of the plot points.
The end of this book super shocked me. I thought the last of the plot twists were behind me but nope I was wrong! I think the very very end was written in a more choppy sense and it had a jarring result, but overall wrapped everything up. I do suggest this book if you’re interested in dystopians and conversations around gender equality.
Happy reading, folks!