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Grace Williams Says It Loud

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  842 ratings  ·  120 reviews
A startling, first-person debut and a unique, spirit-soaring love story.

This isn't an ordinary love story. But then Grace isn't an ordinary girl.

'Disgusting,' said the nurse.

And when no more could be done, they put her away, aged eleven.

On her first day at the Briar Mental Institute, Grace meets Daniel. He sees a different Grace: someone to share secrets and canoodle with,
...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published July 2010 by Hachette Australia
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,149)
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Oldbutstillachild
I disliked this book, and that seems a shame to me, because there was such potential in the topic. I am interested in mental health and learning difficulties, and the ways in which we treated and regarded individuals with physical and mental disability in the past. Yet I struggled to read this book. In fact I only finished it because I had spent money on it and I felt I needed to justify it.

I found this book lacked fluency, both in the writer's voice and the overall narrative. I found it diffic
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MyGoodBookshelf
(This review also appears on Amazon.co.uk)

I wanted to adore this book, really I did- but I couldn't. I found it such a struggle to get into and nearly gave up on it several times. This book had the potential to be really fantastic, but for me it's distinctly average. After seeing other five star reviews on here, I do have to wonder if maybe I've read a different book from everyone else- but this book just really wasn't my cup of tea at all.

I liked the premise of the novel and in places it is wel
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Suzierussell
I picked this up because a reviewer thought it was comparable to Emma Donoghue's Room, in it's, "linguistic, and emotional, resourcefulness."
I totally disagree - I was very disappointed.

I didn't warm to the main characters, or root for them, or even really feel much for them. It had nothing like the emotional punch that it should have had given the subject matter.

harryknuckles
If you want an easy and unchallenging read then this is not for you.
This is an unsentimental account of a child with profound disabilities growing up and coming of age in institutions in the 1950s and 60s, and then finally settling into what is called `supported living'. It also details the impact that her disability has on her family. Grace, the narrator, recounts her story with no holds barred. She doesn't shy from letting us know about the messy practicalities of struggling with bodily functi
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JackieB
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy
I am not a misery lit person: I do not read sad reveal all novels about past miseries although I am often attracted to books set in mental institutions (see also Girl, Interrupted, The Bell Jar, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest etc etc) and a particular type of contemporary fiction that this slots neatly into, making Grace Williams Says it Loud tick several boxes for me.

I'm pointing out my dislike - and, to be quite honest, extreme distaste - for misery lit so that you don't think that this book
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Dan (aka Utterbiblio)
Conflicted.

That is the first word that comes to mind with this book. Emma Henderson's writing is superb. Her scatterbrained writing elevates Grace's situation more so. The characterisation is sublime and always on point. Which makes you want to know more about the cast but yet still feel satisfied about who you are spending your time with. For these points alone I could say it was a five star book.

However, the story itself and the pacing of the novel brought it down, for me. It's a heartbreaking
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Liz
Just finished this book this morning. It ranks right up there with Emma Donoghue's "Room" as one of the most affecting books I have ever read.

Grace is a highly articulate narrator, trapped in her own disabled and largely mute body. The romance between her and Daniel, the arm-less boy she meets on her very first day at "The Briar" (a home for "mental defectives" where she is sent as a child), is beautifully written. Grace's narrative veers gently through her memory, recounting scenes from throug
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Wren
This looked like a happy book. "Grace Williams says it loud" looped in bold cursive across the cover, friendly and inviting. But this is not a happy book, and Grace doesn't say it loud - she barely speaks out loud at all.

Grace has an unspecified mental illness which has caused doctors to tell her parents she's a right-off - a spastic, ineducable. Her parents listen, and Grace is institutionalised in 1956 at the age of ten, to grow up in the children's unit at the Briar. It's dismal. Every horrib
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Katherine
I read this book pretty quickly over about two days, not because it was particularly compelling, but because I was afraid that if I put it down, I'd lose sense of the characters and where I was in the narrative. Because the main character, Grace, is a patient in a mental institution, locked inside an uncooperative body, unable to speak more than a few words at a time, branded "uneducable" by the system. The main body of the story spans roughly a decade, from about 1960 to 1970, with a bit of "be ...more
Hannah
Grace Williams Says it Loud was one of those books that I’d had sat on my bookshelf for a while and I was looking forward to reading it so much. Not only is it Emma Henderson’s debut novel but it was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize of 2011, here in the UK. However, unfortunately I found that this particular novel didn’t live up to its expectations, for me at least.

To give a brief overview, in this book the reader is introduced to Grace Williams, the narrator of this story and a girl who w
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Gayla Bassham
I thought this book was lovely and moving. Like Lyrics Alley, it was plagued by odd pacing problems; but after reading up on the author a little, I have learned that, like Lyrics Alley, it was based (however loosely) on the life of one of the author's family members--in this case her sister, who, like Grace Williams, spent most of her life in a mental institution, classified as "ineducable."
CuteBadger
Given the subject matter, I expected to be more affected by this book than I actually was. There are tragic and shocking things in it, but somehow the writing never made me feel sufficiently close to them to feel their emotional impact. I was also frustrated by what wasn't said and how sketchy the background to Grace and her friends' lives were. I suppose this is probably the author's way of showing us how little they knew about themselves and how marginalised they were, but I think I would have ...more
Holly
A heartbreaking yet funny novel. I really felt close to the characters and was moved to tears for poor Grace at some points. This really put things in a new perspective for me. Very well written.
Kathy
I didn't like this book. I found it depressing. I didn't like the way it was written, chopping and jumping around. I found it hard to follow.
Hannah Davey
This is a love story with a difference. Grace is sent to an institution because of her disabilities as a child. She is treated as less than human, and has to suffer the embarrassment and detachment of her family.

In the hospital, with Daniel, another inmate, however, she is able to share love and fun, and a reason to enjoy life, from dressing up to 'canoodling', days out and the small victories that make up a life.

The novel also serves as a kind of history of social care, as Grace moves from ins
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Liv Smales
I can't quite make up my mind about this book... It has moments of pure, brutal brilliance, speaking frankly and painfully about everything that was wrong with the treatment of mental illness and disability... but somehow it's initially hard work. The language is stilted, in places basic perhaps betraying the beauty of such raw dialogue. Or maybe it's this uncomfortable and immature dialogue that gives the book an inverted fairytale sensibility and a painful perception of human emotion?. This bo ...more
May
First Sentence: "When Sarah told me Daniel had died, the cuckoo clock opened and out flew sound, a bird, two figures."

Emma Henderson's debut "Grace Williams Says It Out Loud" is wonderful, compelling and engaging. Written in the voice of Grace Williams, a spastic, "uneducable", polio-stricken, mentally retarded, who speaks in grunts and other unintelligible sounds. However, Grace Williams speaks with words that are poetic and fluid, drawing a juxtaposition of contrasting emotions in me as a read
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Robyn
This is deservedly nominated for the Orange prize. Grace Williams is the most wonderful creation, it was easy to fall in love with her in these pages.

Whilst the two main characters (and many of the minor ones) have severe disabilities, the main message for me was that we are all more alike than we are different.

The saddest fact about Grace's story is that it is so true to life - many people with disabilities were treated terribly in the years that Emma Henderson writes about here. And some sti
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Cara
Well it wasn't a comfortable read throughout. Sometimes the hardest stories to read are the ones that need to be told the most.

Grace Williams is introduced to us as a profoundly disabled baby. We hear her voice from a very early age. We see her view of the world, which at times is so cruel & heartfelt, it's difficult to read through each sentence. She lives in a world where it was commonplace for the authorities to pressure parents to institutionalise ineducable children. I found the descri
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Sarah
I thought I would like this book more than I did, and whilst reading it I liked the story, but there were so many niggles I had with the way it was written that it put me off and made reading it a chore at times. Firstly, things that are written from a child's perspective always take a little getting used to with the quirky language. This was one of those books. I'd find myself having to reread sentences to make sense of them. Also, the swearing did put me off a bit. I'm not anti-swearing at all ...more
Ellen
I can't decide between three or four stars for this shortlisted Orange Prize novel. Three for how there were times when I thought focus was lost -- or four for how the book lingered in my mind after completing it.

Emma Henderson's inspiration was her elder sister, who, like the title character, Grace, came to the world in the late 1940s with birth defects, soon exacerbated by polio. By age ten, Grace's parents are persuaded to send her to an institution, the Briar, which, of course, is destined t
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Kirsty Darbyshire
I was a bit dubious about reading this to start with as it sounds all a bit gimmicky, but actually thought it was fabulous. It's narrated by Grace, who is - I forget the exact details - but born with some kind of mental disability and then gets polio aged six which withers an arm and leg - she's considered to be 'ineducable' and at the age of ten is institutionalised by her family. The author has managed to tell the story of someone who could never tell her own story.

The story is basically all a
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Paula
The Story ~

'Grace Williams Says its Loud' is the story of Grace Henderson, a story which she narrates. Grace was born with severe disabilities which became worse due to Poliomyelitis (Polio). Grace is eventually sent to Briar House where she meets Daniel, a debonair, individualistic boy who suffers from epilepsy and has no arms following a tragic accident. Grace and Daniel are there for the same reason, their health problems, Grace's parents tries desperately to keep Grace at home and care for h
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DubaiReader
Semi-autobiographical.

What lifted this book above a four star read was the knowledge that the author's older sister had been consigned to an asylum at a similar age and the experiences described for Grace were based on Ms Henderson's memories of her sister.
On the other hand, I did feel the complicated descriptions of Grace's feelings and thoughts, in all their detail, were a bit unbelievable as having come from someone who was "not just not perfect, but damaged. deficient, mangled in body and mi
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Emma
Emma Henderson’s book is ambitious, moving and tackles very serious issues about society’s attitude to disabled people.

(I can’t believe this book was compared to Emma Donoghue’s ‘Room’ which I found to be a formulaic ‘beach read’ and boring considering the subject matter!)

My only frustration with the book was in the pacing and style of writing. I found this to be a big problem. The writing is beautiful but somewhat jarring in that events presented from the POV of the main character are shown to
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Bernadette Robinson
This debut novel by Emma Henderson who has drawn on her personal experiences to base the research behind this story is a joy to read. If you're looking for something different that isn't your normal feel good story then this is for you.

The story centres around Grace who lives in the Briar Mental Institution and spans her life from pre-adolescence to womanhood. Life inside the Briar isn't always as it's meant to be but then there's always Daniel. Daniel is also a patient in the Briar, we watch hi
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Casual Reader
Well, it's a difficult subject and hats off to the author for tackling it. I think I really wanted to like it more than I actually did. However, it is extremely well written and I like the feisty character of Grace who the author wants us to believe has an active mind trapped in an inactive body. However, it is a book that only gives a very bleak view of care given to those with profound disabilities. It is a very grim portrayal without giving many redeeming qualities to residential care or nurs ...more
Tze-Wen
What a tough book this was to read. I went through stages of anger, indignation, happiness and also sadness, while reading Grace's story. I imagine it must have been difficult to give shape to the inner world and experiences of the outer world of someone who cannot communicate her feelings and thoughts accurately in either speech or writing. Who really knows how disabled people were (are?) treated? As the above quote demonstrates, the Briar Mental Institute staff does not hold a high opinion of ...more
Vivienne
From its opening dedication to the late Clare Henderson, I wondered if Emma Henderson was writing this story from personal experience. When I finished it this afternoon a quick search revealed that indeed her older sister had been institutionalized for decades and here some years after her death Emma was giving her a voice through the vehicle of fiction.

"How many brothers and sisters have you got?"
"Two brothers and two sisters, but one of them doesn’t count."

That’s what I used to say, as a child
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Emma Henderson (born 1958) grew up in suburban west London. Her sister Clare Williams (born 1946) was placed in an institution in 1957, judged impossible to educate; she was also partly paralysed due to polio. Clare spent 35 years in hospitals before being released into community care, and died in 1997. This experience, and the guilt and anger it stirred in Henderson, partly inspired her novel Gra ...more
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“Rubella, Talipes, Amsterdam dwarfism, Austism, Asthma, Eczema, Epilepsy - the Sacred Disease. Moth madness, Papa calls it. Said Daniel. The Epilepsy, Papa used to say I was his little papillon de nuit - because of how I fluttered and got the shakes. Butterfly of the night. It suited him.” 1 likes
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