Goodreads: The Grace Year
Publish date: 08 October 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Dystopia
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.
I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been pulled out of my reading slump because I finished The Grace Year in one night (literally); and despite being hella tired the next day, I had zero regrets doing it. I tried putting it down at one point because responsible adult etc., but it didn’t work. I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I picked it up and kept reading until the end!
“In the county, there’s nothing more dangerous than a woman who speaks her mind. That’s what happened to Eve, you know, why we were cast out from heaven. We’re dangerous creatures. Full of devil charms. If given the opportunity, we will use our magic to lure men to sin, to evil, to destruction.”
The Grace Year was… wow? I really don’t have the words for it but I will say that it’s probably one of my favorite reads of 2019! Whoever said it’s reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale and Lord of the Flies was spot on. It’s dark and full of twists. It’s mind-bending and insanely spooky and makes you question whether the magic is real or not. It’s also surprisingly violent and gruesome–don’t let that beautiful pink cover fool you. This book is not full of roses and fluff! It’s a dark read that makes you think and question your role in perpetuating inequalities (whether you know it or not). It’s set in a dystopian society but I have no doubt that elements of this story will ring true for many women because on some level, we have all experienced what these girls/women go through. It took me on an emotional and mental journey that I was totally unprepared for (lol) but hell, it was worth it! I didn’t expect to find myself in tears by the end of this book, but there I was at 4AM hugging my Billy bear to my chest and crying into my pillow.
I loved (MC) Tierney’s character and how she developed throughout the story. Most of the other characters were minor, but I still enjoyed the roles that they played too, especially Ryker, Gertie, Michael and Tierney’s parents. The story was tense and fast-paced; I always felt as if some unknown horror was lurking around the corner waiting to be unleashed. There’s a pervasive eeriness to Liggett’s writing that had me sitting on the edge of my seat and goosebumps constantly rising on my skin, especially towards the latter half. After everything the girls survived, what happens in the end brought me to tears. The defiance and camaraderie, the willingness to acknowledge the need for change, and to open their hearts to making it happen by taking just that small step against the patriarchy, made me emotional AF.
“The things we do to girls. Whether we put them on pedestals only to tear them down, or use them for parts and holes, we’re all complicit in this. But everything touches everything else and I have to believe that some good will come out of all this destruction. The men will never end the grace year. But maybe we can.”
If there’s anything to critique it’s that: 1) I don’t think the romance was necessary. It also came off as hypocritical, especially considering Tierney’s strong stance on marriage throughout the story. 2) I wish that there was more groundwork for how this society came to be. There were hints that things were different beyond the borders, but how did this county and the poachers come to be this way? I would’ve loved to know more of the backstory to this world. And 3) This might be because I read the ARC, but there were some editing errors that I hope are caught before publication because the way it reads right now, paragraphs start in next sentences and it’s often confusing, especially when there’s so much time that’s passed in between (hopefully that explanation makes sense).
This isn’t a story that has a typical HEA, and it was a little bit open to interpretation (imo), but it does bring hope and that’s just as important. I honestly can’t wait until everyone gets the chance to read this because I’d highly encourage you to pick it up. I’m so excited to see what else Liggett has in store!
The quotes used in my review were taken from an advanced copy, so there may be minor differences in the final publication.
Thanks to NetGalley, the author and St. Martin’s Press for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is out 08 October 2019.
Have you read The Grace Year or does it sound like something you want to read?
Come let me know in the comments and let’s chat!