This review includes MY THEORY about the ending, because the ending was left open regarding the main character’s fate.
TITLE: The Grace Year
BY: Kim Liggett
GENRE: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Psychological Thriller
PUBLICATION: October 8th, 2019 by Wednesday Books
NOTES: Day-A-Thon_Feb2020 | AtoZ Reading Challenge | POPSUGAR Reading Challenge
Dark, intense, empowering and frank. With such realism, The Grace Year made me feel, made me think and made me proud not just as a woman but a part of the society I’m living in.
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.
First, let’s talk about THE GRACE YEAR itself. I think it’s brilliant. It’s definitely not a very new concept because it will reminds you a BIT of Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and every book/movie that features a kind of isolation of some poor teenagers. But in The Grace Year, it centers in a misogynistic, male-dominated society, silencing women of their voice and making them think that they’re the toxic that ruin the society, that women need cleansing. In The Grace Year, girls in the verge of womanhood are turned against each other, letting them think once more that they’re the problems.
At first, I admit I was put off by the way girls fighting against each other, alone in the woods. I was like, ‘come on girls, the men are not around, why are you guys being like this?’ but then as I read, I realized The Grace Year itself symbolizes the society girls and women are living. It made me wonder, maybe the reason why women have insecurities and turn against each other is because we live in a world where we are made to compete against each other.
In The Grace Year, girls are almost brain-washed, even manipulated to act like they’re the toxic of the society, that it’s their fault. Then during isolation, they’re starved and scared as a prey, still being manipulated by men even if they’re not around, they’re actions are still being controlled by the society outside their isolation. Most of all, they become what the society told them what they are. They became these little monsters fighting against each other — competing. This makes for an uneasy read at times. I admit, I was bothered by the story-telling a few times. It’s really hard to read a dark reality where I, myself, am a part of.
But the author is such an amazing story-teller. She handled this heavy topic with such care but without sacrificing the truth she’s trying to convey. She made me think, she me feel. Tierney’s voice is so raw, so emotional and so empowering. It makes me proud to be a woman. I have nothing against men or anything, the lessons that The Grace Year taught to me are things I already know and already practicing — I have a voice and it doesn’t matter if I’m young or a woman, I must speak if I have something to say that I know matters. I must act whenever I feel that I should. And that the world will make a puppet out of me if I let it, so I won’t let it. And most of all, I, as a woman, is not the toxic of the society, but rather it’s the toxic mentality that’s been engraved to us since the beginning.
By the way, I love how flowers were used as messages in the story. It’s stated that each flower has a different meaning and I kinda think it symbolizes women.
I would’ve liked to get more from the POV of the other girls but having Tierney as the sole narrator, it feels more intimate and I know in this kind of story, intimacy between the main character and reader is important. During the part where Tierney gets intimate with Ryker, the poacher, I found the story went astray from it’s purpose, but then it all makes sense. Because with Ryker, we see Tierney choosing for herself. But I must warn you, if you’re planning to read this book and you’re looking for romance, this is not the book for you. Go read Hunger Games instead. Though actually, the romance is kinda a bit like The Hunger Games. Tierney also fall in love during the Grace Year while someone else is waiting for her outside — Michael, her bestfriend. But I really find the romance here really heartwarming with Ryker saying Michael seems like a decent man and Michael saying that the little girl in Tierney’s dreams means so much to him. This part will matter at the ending, because having Michael says that kind of assure the reader that Michael will love that little girl when she becomes a Real part of the story or future story. 🙂
I love the twists the plot took and I love how everything is wrapped up. I actually agree with what happened to Ryker because of its impact in the story as a whole. If it didn’t happen to Ryker, Tierney wouldn’t have been back to Michael, and that one amazing scene wouldn’t have happened. It’s the first indication that change is possible.
The ending didn’t show a lot of change and I love that because it’s more realistic that way. You can’t change a culture that’s been there since the beginning in one year, you do it little by little. And I love that it’s indicated that the next generation would be involved in that change.
RATING: 5 blissful pages with lilies
This is my first 5-star read for this year. Actually it’s my first 5-star in the past year. I can’t remember the last time I rated a book 5 stars.
Now for my theory about the ending, there will be a spoiler.
Last scene is Tierney holding her daughter, Grace Ryker Welk and she said that Grace is the one who will change everything. Then her mother gives her a flower and released her braid, then she had an endless breath and finally she’s in a forest and saw Ryker walking towards her. The last line says she’s waiting if he’ll walk through her or take her in his arms.
I think he’ll take her in his arms. Tierney saying that her daughter is the one who will change everything, she said it as if she won’t be a part of the change anymore. And her mother releasing her braid, from the black ribbon and everything it means she’s giving Tierney freedom from everything, that Tierney should know it before she dies. It’s also important to remember that it’s mentioned that there were women died from giving birth. I think it’s mentioned not just to bring fear, that’s nonsense if it is. It’s mentioned to imply that Tierney is indeed going to die giving birth.
Finally with Ryker, I think he will take her in his arms. If he doesn’t, then that means Tierney didn’t die. It’s because when Ryker is still alive, he had a dream about someone going through him. But now that he’s dead and she’s dead, I don’t think he’ll go through her. They’re in the same place now, so it makes more sense that he can take her in his arms.
Have you read this book? Or planning too? What do you think of it? Let’s Chat.