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.
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.
4 ½ stars
This has to be one of the hardest most heartbreaking books I’ve read in awhile. Right from the start we’re thrown into a world where men rule and women are expected to fall into line, where 16 year old girls are thrown into a camp away from society to cleanse themselves of their magic.
This book has been pitched as The Handmaid’s Tale meets Lord of the Flies meets The Hunger Games and it’s the perfect comparison.
Tierney James is about to start her grace year, the year when all 16 year old girls are thrown into the wilds in order to cleanse themselves of their dark sinful magic, a magic that can seduce any man but it’s not just the wilds or the poachers- men who are paid to hunt and kill the girls for there magic- they have to survive it’s each other to.
This book is horrifying and heartbreaking all in one the world felt so real that it could be set in reality and not just a dystopian novel. The grace year was a fast read despite it being more than 400 pages it’s fast paced, interesting and it kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what happened to everyone.
Tierney is a headstrong character she wants to be in control of her own future and not let the men decided what she has to do with her body, she’s clever but naive at times and I felt so much for her. The girls in the camp are terrifying the longer the year goes on the more ruthless and blood thirsty they get even going as far as maiming each other and it was like reading a nightmare I would not want to be anywhere near the camp these girls are in.
I’m not sure if this was a popular or unpopular opinion but I actually really liked the romance in the book and while I can see that it might not have been super necessary and seemed to slow the book down (I always wondered in the back of my mind what was going on in the camp with all the other girls) I did enjoy it a lot and liked Tierney and Ryker as a couple. There were a few parts between them that really spoke to me.
I thought the religious aspect was interesting and a terrifying they blame eve for the fall of human kind (no unlike some religions) and because of that women are seen as evil sinners who need to be watched and controlled.
“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.” My eyes are getting heavy, too heavy to roll in a dramatic fashion. “That’s why they send us here.”
the ending, that ending ripped me apart so hard I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but it shows that some things can’t be changed in big ways like in some books let’s say the hunger games but can only be changed in small ways the ending is heartbreakingly hopeful.
There’s so much meaning in this book I don’t even know if I can write about everything I would definitely recommend the grace year to people. I also want to add really quick that my favorite parts of the grace year had to be the dreams and all there meanings.