Sometimes I feel like we might burn down the world to cindery bits, with our love, our rage, and everything in betweenKim Liggett, The Grace Year
About the Book
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.
I read this book on my flight to the AASL Conference in Kentucky last month, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. It’s a brutal and unflinching look at a dystopian patriarchy that has eerie echoes of our own world mixed with a healthy dose of The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies and The Handmaid’s Tale.
I loved the character of Tierney right away. I loved her anger. I loved her skepticism. And I loved, loved, loved the journey she found herself on–both the actual, literal journey, and the inner journey she took, too, as she considered the role of the girls around her on their Grace Year and the women they left at home.
Now, listen – I’ve read more than my fair share of YA. It’s the category I love best. When I write, I write YA. When I read, chances are I read YA. I’m a middle school librarian – kidlit is my thing. And yet, it feels like this book–like Tierney–is something I’ve been waiting for. It’s a no-holds barred exploration of the power of the teenage girl. Girls are banished from Garner Valley the year they turn 16 – the year they are told that their magic comes in. They are hunted for their skin, their blood, for their very essence–and yet, their essence, their magic, is feared above all else. This is a book I would have devoured as a teenage girl, because I would have felt seen. Even though I didn’t live in Garner Valley, and I wasn’t banished for a magic I may or may not have possessed, I understood Tierney. I understood her anger. I understood her fear.
There’s so much about this book that’s wonderful: the world-building, the relationships, the anger. Nothing felt rushed, and even though I saw the twist coming from a mile away, I didn’t mind at all. Give it a shot. I think you’ll love it, too.
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An advanced copy of the Grace Year was provided free for review from the publisher.