The Grace Year | A Book Review

Because isn’t that the biggest sin of all for a woman? Not to be of use.

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Release Date: October 8th 2019

Plot Synopsis

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

Girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, 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 their chance to grab one of the girls in order to make their 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. 

My Review ★★★★☆

I had no idea what I was in for when I started this book. It was part Handmaid’s Tale, part Lord of the Flies (and I think a dash of the Crucible?) If you were looking for a YA story with hard feminist themes and some serious survivalist tactics, this is the book for you. 

I do think this book is best experienced not knowing too much going in, so if you’re hooked enough by the description above, I would read no more and just get the book asap. If you’re not interested, need to know more details, or have already read it and are just trying to validate your opinions, please continue. 

What I liked:

I feel like this is hard to say I “liked” it, but I did find it interesting, and based on the setting, believable. The way the men in this world use their fear of the women to turn the women against each other is both terrifying and genius. It truly feels like a dystopian world that is not impossible for our future. There were a lot of parallels between this and the rules in the Handmaid’s tale, but the main difference is the grace year.

To remove their magic the girls of a certain age must leave the community for a year to both come into their magic and then dispel it. If they come back to the community with their magic, they will ruin everyone’s lives (apparently.) It’s kind of vague whether or not the magic is real or if it is just another way the men control the women and their actions. 

Once the girls make it to where they’ll be staying for the year, things go kind of crazy. Are they actually coming into their magic, are they going insane from the isolation, do they just want it to be true, so they believe it? The book keeps you guessing all the way to the very end. 

There are villains lurking from every corner, and they are all amazing. I hate them and they are despicable, don’t get me wrong, but oh were they written wonderfully. 

What I was not the biggest fan of:

There was a romance in here that I liked, but I thought was unnecessary for the story. If that makes sense. Just based on the themes of the book, I think this was a spectacular opportunity to not include a hetero romance. I do understand why it was included and it does make sense, but it just didn’t click for me. 

The timeline was so so confusing. Idk if it was just my copy, but it was so hard to note the passing of time. As the book is set over the course of over a year, it’s obvious that some time must skip around. For me those times were hard to find until after I had read awhile. 

Overall Thoughts:

I do think this is worth reading, especially if you’re into feminist dystopians. The middle of the book is super fast-paced, and you’ll have it read in no time. I didn’t personally love the ending, but that could be just me, and I would still recommend reading it!

*Thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for this review copy!

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