Summary (from the publisher):
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
My Rating: 4.25/ 5 Stars
The slightest whisper of “The Handmaid’s Tale meets YA” leaves me no choice but to add said book to my TBR. Enter Kim Liggett’s upcoming release, The Grace Year, which has been hyped up as The Power meets The Handmaid’s Tale. Lately, I have been reaching more and more for dystopian and fantasy, with The Grace Year falling into the first category.
As they enter their sixteenth year, the girls of Garner County are banished from the community in order to rid of their magic that has the power to lure men and more. As someone who dreams of a life that doesn’t involve having a husband or pits women against women, Tierney is not looking forward to the grace year. While away in the woods with the other girls, Tierney realizes that she should not fear her future or the poachers who lurk in the woods, but rather the girls themselves.
The Grace Year’s beginning and ending grabbed my attention. While disturbing at times, I loved getting to learn about this slightly-dystopian/slightly & creepily-close-to-our-world setting. I particularly enjoyed the dynamics between Tierney and her family members and her best friend, Michael. Tierney also develops interesting relationships during the grace year. I particularly enjoyed her relationship with Gertie, carrying the message that the girls should stick together rather than break apart in order to survive.
This book definitely has some messed up moments that will leave you angry at this society’ power dynamics, all in the interest in showing how women are oppressed and through Tierney, how they can resist.
Although, there are some suspenseful moments and twists, the middle of this book particularly dragged for me. Unfortunately, much of this dragging took place during the book’s namesake, the grace year. I felt myself transported to my Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows reading days, aka when are ever going to leave the woods???
Tierney is constantly going back between the girls’ encampment and being on her own. While much of this book is about survival in many different ways, I really wasn’t interested in Tierney’s survival in the woods. However, I definitely see this book’s comparison to Lord of the Flies. I liked the moments where Tierney was with the girls more, but I could not stand Kiersten and her power dynamics.
As someone who isn’t always the biggest fan of endings, especially in non-contemporary books, I particularly loved The Grace Year’s ending. It’s the type of ending that makes you go back to the first page, which I immediately did after finishing reading. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t be too specific, but there’s a recurring element in Tierney’s dreams that all comes together in the end. It was such a smart and unexpected move by Kim Liggett. While The Grace Year does not necessarily need a sequel, I wouldn’t mind another book incorporating all of these ‘puzzle pieces’ that she included throughout the story. The ending isn’t necessarily cheery, but it is certainly hopeful.
Overall, The Grace Year is a very important read that will both shock readers and give them hope. I’m really looking forward to seeing this book transfer to the big screen, since it has been optioned by Universal and Elizabeth Banks.
The Grace Year comes out on September 17, 2019.
This reviews is based on an advance readers’ edition. By no means did receiving this ARC affect my thoughts or opinions.
Is The Grace Year on your TBR? Have you read any books by Kim Liggett? Share in the comments!