The Grace Year, Kim Liggett


“Kneeling in the dirt, barefoot, eyes to God, bathed in golden light, they look like something not of this earth.”

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. 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.

* * * *
4 / 5

A classic tale of womanhood, first love, fighting oppression, and becoming your basest self. The Grace Year hung in my thoughts for days after reading it, clouding my mind with the violence and savagery of it, the subtle horror and the sheer weirdness of the tale of it weaves.

“To be at odds with your nature, what everyone expects from you, is a life of constant struggle”

Tierney James’s grace year is approaching. Year after year she has watched the older girls leave, fresh-faced and the chosen few veiled, selected for marriage by the eligible men. She has watched them return, their eyes vacant and mere shadows of their former selves. Words and tales linger in the streets, stories of the girls burning out their magic out there in the wilds, returning safe and biddable and broken.

The world Liggett depicts made my skin crawl. Women are children, mothers, or slaves, worked to the bone. It is easy for this sort of setting to be overdone, overworked, so that it becomes a parody. In this book, it was well done, and it was threatening. Tierney doesn’t want to be a bride. When she returns from her grace year, she wants to be farmhand. But the men have other plans.

“I still don’t feel magical. I still don’t feel powerful. I feel forsaken.”

Out there in the wilderness, the magic begins. Reality starts to become undone and their weirdness creeps in. Tierney’s journey surprised me – sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a way that made me roll my eyes. It shocked me, the choices that the author made were unsettling and uncomfortable; somehow typical choices for a YA story and unusual.

I’d definitely recommend The Grace Year to anyone that wants a slightly darkerYA story. It reminded me of Patrick Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go in terms of a few plot points and the general surreal and yet uncomfortable tone of the book.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of The Grace Year.


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