The Grace Year
The Instant New York Times Bestseller! Kim Liggett's The Grace Year is a speculative thriller in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power.
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.
“A visceral, darkly haunting fever dream of a novel and an absolute page-turner.” – Libba Bray, New York Times bestselling author
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The Grace Year begins with quotes from The Handmaid’s Tale and Lord of the Flies, and once this dystopian novel gets going, it’s clear why. In author Kim Liggett’s imagined world, all teenage girls become the property of men after they’re sent to an isolated retreat for a year to be purified—and they face almost certain death if they attempt to flee. With dialogue like “as soon as the first girl with a mattress dies, you can use hers,” Liggett’s prose is dark as night. This novel paints a horrifying and page-turning picture of a cultural worst-case scenario.
Women are submissive, girls are pitted against each other, and misogyny is the governing principle in this heavy-handed mash-up of The Handmaid's Tale, The Hunger Games, and Lord of the Flies. Clever narrator Tierney James lives in a community where men hold absolute power over women, who greatly outnumber them; a woman's only value is as a wife, unmarried women are sent to workhouses and fields, and punishments (hanging, sexual slavery) are doled out on a whim. When young women turn 16, they embark on their Grace Year banishment to an isolated compound to purify themselves of their "magic" before returning to forced marriage or work. As Tierney begins her Grace Year, she and the others must survive with few resources while poachers prowl the compound's perimeter, hoping to rape and dismember captured girls (they'll bottle and later sell their parts, which are believed to possess magical, medicinal powers). After Tierney is banished from the group by a cruel ringleader, she falls for a kindhearted poacher, whose interest in her threatens his position. Though the prose is evocative and the pacing well done, gratuitous violence and flimsy characters eclipse what seems like intended commentary on women's perpetuation of misogyny. Ultimately, the many malignant forces at work in this bloody, over-the-top novel fail to become more than the sum of their parts. Ages 14 up.