The Grace Year
by Kim Liggett
Spoiler- Free Synopsis:
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.
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.
The only thing I have to say, READ IT AND PLEASE COME BACK, I NEED SOMEONE TO CRY TO. Yeah, that's all. Also, *whispering* There's a small spoiler-free piece after that warning. A tiny one though. Basically, me freaking out/ fangirling.
This review was way too long- I apologize in advance.
RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 4.7
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! ABORT IF YOU HAVEN'T READ IT YET!
“They call us the weaker sex. It’s pounded into us every Sunday in church, how everything’s Eve’s fault for not expelling her magic when she had the chance, but I still can’t understand why the girls don’t get a say. Sure, there are secret arrangements, whispers in the dark, but why must the boys get to decide everything? As far as I can tell, we all have hearts. We all have brains. There are only a few differences I can see, and most men seem to think with that part anyway.”
HA HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA
HA HA AH
I AM NOT OKAY.
The plot twists:...
(Currently having a mild heart attack after having waited a looooong time to get my feelings into words that have a semi decipherable meaning)
Getting poetic for a millisecond, how do you talk about a story that reached beneath the veins of your entire foundation and ripped it out in a single jagged stroke? How can I explain the utter pain in what could actually be a possible reality? What could've happened? How in the world can I express such a masterpiece like this one? I don't know how to explain all that, but I will try. Like all the girls in this book did. They tried, and for that, they will forever hold the burning torch in my soul.
So *clears throat* I am here. I am woketh. I have been wokenated. My heart is another matter, but we won't talk about that. This book, guys. It was amazing.
(cue end of review)
Okay, so, making this as organized as my chaotic self can make it, I’ll write a little (I.e. tiny, minuscule, barely existent) spoiler-free review, before I dive directly into HOLY BLOODY COFFINS WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHAT HAPPENED, territory.
One thing I can take away from this story, without spoiling, of course, IS THAT YOU HAVE TO READ IT. Yes, yes you do. The writing is magnificent, the storytelling made all the trees sacrificed for this, proud. And of course, it renewed my will to continue my life as a reader. Please search for the reason of why the opposite was attacking me beforehand, in this dang trash.
As I was saying, the book was astounding, the romance annoyed me at times, but I’m very picky when it comes to that, so I can sincerely say, it was my fault, not the book’s. The Handmaiden Tale aspect was very there, and I positively craved to know the end. It kept me awake, (as in, made me miserable in the morning because who would've thought that I actually need sleep) and made me feel a spectrum of emotions I forgot I was capable of having.
Right, that’s it. Spoiler-free section has been completed. Now, let’s swim across the expanse of hate, love, adoration, tears, happiness, this story caused previously said missing heart.
Are the ones who haven’t read it, gone? You’re still here? Okay, I’ll wait.
Hi, people who have read this. How are you? Good, I see. Pfft, how am I? Well, *clears throat* I AM ABSOLUTELY FRICKING DESTROYED.
DUNKIN' DONUTS IS IN PERIL OF BEING ATTACKED BY MY MESS OF A SELF.
The Chracters~ aka the ones that obliterated my feeble beating... thing. It's not even an organ at this point.
Just a hollow... thing.
Tierney James is probably, one of the best written female characters I have ever encountered in my bookish existence. I don't say it because she didn't annoy me (which she did, in varying degrees of AREYOUSERIOUS), nor because she was perfect (because she was not, perfectly angersome at times though), and especially not because of her ~wonderful~ decisions. One of which being, letting live a certain character that should've perished. Been exiled from existence. Cease to breathe the same air as us. But I'll rant about that certain mucus, later on. Now, I'll try to focus on the character which I suffered through for about 300 years of my immortal life.
So *claps hand*, she made me cry. In frustration. Multiple times. But at the same time, she reconstructed my heart more than once. So thank you, T girl, for breaking it in the first place. As I mentioned above (before my attention span gave up) she was remarkable to me for the sole reason that she had a brain. And used it from time to time. Now, this might sound harsh, but seldom do I have the privilege of reading about a female character who isn't totally oblivious about everything happening and just suddenly gets THROWN into a world she never knew existed (personal thanks to those other YA books that shaped me into who I am), thus OBVIOUSLY creating a revolution that could get resolved in about 30 minutes of intense thinking, alas, those other three books need some things to go on. No? And another thing that surprised me about her, is that she knew all along that it was a possibility (albeit a small one) that she would get chosen to be the one (and honestly? We all knew it was going to happen, still hurt though) and was probably as SHOOKETH as me. The girl was resourceful, a strong and willful character who just *sigh* gave me hope.
And then smashed it to a thousand pieces when she let a certain female antagonist keep on breathing. Like, I get the whole 'kindness' thing but come on. Just push her off the bridge to Common Sense. Let her drown in her own stupidity. Ugh.
Moving on before I give in to rereading this review and certainly realizing that I should give it about three more months to be able to properly express myself.
MORE CHARACTERS THAT GOT ME DOUBTING MY BELIEFS AS A MEMBER OF THE FEMALE SPECIES. So like, the rest of the people in this book. I'll group the girls all together because honestly? I don't think I can relive most of what they made me go through. The girls were tough and so very vulnerable, that at times (many MANY times) I wanted to take a dagger and use them as a target. Pretty sane reaction, as far as I'm concerned. One of the things that broke me about what they went through, is that they had hope of becoming 'women' and being 'free' of the curse that womanhood entails. How can you look at a seven-year-old girl and say to her that she will be discriminated against, fought at, catcalled, and degraded when she grows up? How can you ever dare diminish that spark of life-loving fantasy in which young children thrive? How can someone be so cruel as to taint it by saying that our GIFT, our SUFFERING is less than? A curse to be broken by viciousness and blood. So THAT'S why I mostly forgave the rest of Tierney's companions throughout the novel. They thought they could trust the same people who dutifully leashed them to a set of values that didn't apply to the captors, and it was heartbreaking. I wanted to stop. Alas, I am a slight masochist, and I suffered every step with them.
With anxious eating. And lots of Goodreads updates. Thank you to all those who didn't get publicly annoyed by my lack of... um... what's the word- Oh! Brain cells.
The one girl whom I wanted to strangle with her own gosh-darned braid ( AKA Kiersten. ALSO, THE BRAID. SERIOUSLY. I WANTED TIERNEY TO CHOP IT OFF) and in which my tiny angry self wanted to slice in half (that never changed). But noooooo, she just HAD to live. And HAD to be given mercy to. Like, sweetie, I can be merciful too. By chopping your head off. The fact that this botched version of mean girls, thought that she had 'powers' was beyond my fragile patience. Ooh! I have powers too, you see. The power to throw you from a cliff. Hmm, does it look like I hated her? *shakes head* Nah, I think I was very 'merciful' and 'powerful'. *snort* Like one of the buckets of electric eels I'm about to throw her way.
“I’m not without mercy,” Kiersten says with a smile.
Booksy then proceeded to shatter that smile and shove it up Kiersten's nose.
Hans deserves a whole paragraph of hate/ love/ conflicted feelings from yours truly. Starting now...
WHAT IN THE HOLY MOTHER LOVING WATER OF THE EASTERN GATES WAS THAT. I grew to love him. Care for him like that one stretch mark that's always been clingy and ish. I placed my hope for a better world ON HIS BETRAYING SHOULDERS. *massive sobbing bout* I- I can't. What happened??? How did that occur???? WHY????? It was so twisted and sick and just wonderfully written. The way his betrayal and the truth I never knew needed to be uncovered was portrayed? Like, um... I need my ability to breathe correctly again. Also, did I forget to mention that the MC ended up killing him? *sniffles* That's my baby right there. Now if she could just kill another pesky being-
The romance is where the blood, tears, and possible decapitations come in.
Throughout my life as a reader, I've started to grow a thicker skin against character deaths than I had before. Did that help me in feeling less broken? PFFT, NO MA'AM. IT DIDN'T HELP IN ANYTHING, OTHER THAN MAKE ME LOOK LIKE THIS.
Really, reading is wonderful, I tell you.
So okay, Ryker, which was the love interest. Give me a second please-
Alright, this is not getting any easier so I'll do a quick crash course of how my feelings for him grew. He was perfection. Amazing. Spectacular. Before falling in love. Like, that whole hate to romance? Exqueeze me for not falling in love quicker than my loss of sight. The fact that he was caring, whilst also being a gray character and ruthless... made his death hurt so much more, dang it.
Since the romance aspect is what I have SOMETHING against, I'll start from that. It just happened. And there, that was that. Baby. Bam. So smart. Seriously, that was a legit plot twist but come on. SURE, bring a baby girl into a world full of pigs who will prey on her, make her suffer, and make her want to wish to be dead. SURE, do just that.
The way this book was created, from beginning to end just planted a bloom into my soul that will forever be growing roots in it. The fact that the MC grew to love Michael (which hello? I loved him and hated his guts at the same time) and simply came to the conclusion that change is slow. Well, my emotional meter has been getting punches left and right just from remembering it.
The plot twist of Tierney being pregnant. I was so angry but felt so bamboozled, I was shookethly impressed. Still angry though.
Um... Ryker. You'll forever hold the key to my enemy/grey character soul. Shall you be remembered by the king you were, I will place the crown upon your ghostly facade.
A dear friend of mine for recommending this to me.
The torture of the thriller factor added to this story. If it wasn't bad enough, the pain this whole thing caused me, let's just add a ✨pizzaz✨. AKA a whole bucket of OHMYGOATNESSWHATISHAPPENING.
Also, THE SIDE CHARACTERS HAD LIVES. WHO WOULD'VE THUNK.
Kiersten's death. Oh, how I wish that would've happened.
On a closing note, this left me slightly destroyed. First of all, especially at sixteen, I would've been that moron to climb the fence, climb a tree (if I can), and starve to death on a stakeout. By page 14. Because obviously, that's smart. I suggest y'all read this book if you haven't. It certainly had moments in which I wanted to yeet it out the window, especially when the MC was revealed to be pregnant (I still think it so very stupid but so very good for the story). Yep, this is it. The end. I'm totally okay. I just need time. And emotional band-aids. Also, I apologize for the long review. I had a few things to get off my chest.
“I look up at her and whisper, “My eyes are wide open, and I see everything now.”