Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sufficient Grace” as Want to Read:
Sufficient Grace
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sufficient Grace

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  269 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Ruth and her cousin Naomi live in rural Wisconsin, part of an isolated religious community. The girls’ lives are ruled by the rhythms of nature — the harsh winters, the hunting seasons, the harvesting of crops — and by their families’ beliefs. Beneath the surface of this closed, frozen world, hidden dangers lurk.

Then Ruth learns that Naomi harbours a terrible secret. She s
Paperback, 327 pages
Published August 22nd 2012 by Scribe Publications (first published August 17th 2012)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sufficient Grace, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Sufficient Grace

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  269 ratings  ·  58 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mothbox
This was one of the February #MothBox book picks and I am so very glad it was becuase I'd never heard of it before, but I really truly loved it. Sufficient Grace is a blending of themes told through a young narrator. Ruth is just 13 years old when we pick up her tale and meet the world she knows are home. Ruth lives in a small church community, fairy isolated from other communities who live near by such as local Mennonites and Native Indians. Her church is devout at all times, and rigorous about ...more
Mel Campbell
If there isn't already an audiobook of this read by the author, there needs to be. I did my postgrad with Amy Espeseth (we got our MAs in the same graduation ceremony) and so I've followed her work and heard her read from what would become Sufficient Grace many times. Certain moments in the book were familiar to me even before I'd read them in context – especially Ruth snuggling for warmth in the soft fur of the dead deer in the truck – because I'd been so struck by hearing them read aloud. I re ...more
Gigi S.
This is the most surprising novel I've ever read. I won it and expected to wade through it because I felt obliged. I did not expect to stay up to 4am, desperate to take in every last word. The style of this novel was absolutely breathtaking, like an image. The genre and style were two things I'd never approached before--on purpose--but I was completely blindsided by how much I loved this. This is an Australian novel but the author lived in Wisconsin--this is very clear from the outset. The setti ...more
Inger Brecknell
Nov 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
This was our November read for Book Club. Let's cut to the chase.... I didn't like it. It's the story of an extended farming family in Wisconsin who lead a fundamentalist church group. The book is told from the perspective of a girl named Ruth and her struggles and trials. I did enjoy some of the author's writing but for the most part I found the book 'muddy' and hard to relate to. Score: 5/10
Wellington City Libraries
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: readers-choice
Damn good! A bit bumpy in places but never went over the cliff. Thought the villain was a bit one-dimensional. Other characters were great. Liked disclaimer at the end, addressed to members of her family.
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: will-read-again
From the contained poetry of the title and the delicately brutal cover art, the sweet yet shocking opening scene to the closing realisation of the young protagonist, reading Sufficient Grace was a beautiful experience.
Sally Richards
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
This author certainly knows how to write beautiful imagery. Set in the depths of a US winter, it was misery to read in the depths of a Melbourne July - would have been much better to read on a beach! But needed a much firmer hand in editing, and more balanced character development.
May 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I received this book in Moth Box, subscription box celebrating independent publishers, and I am glad that I got the box because I don't think I would have read this book otherwise. Sufficient Grace is a story of two young girls living in rural religious community, and how they struggle through growing up and becoming women. It is incredibly sad and hard book to go through; it is definitely character driven and the plot goes around really slowly. It is filled with beautiful descriptions of nature ...more
Courtney Elizabeth
While this was a slow burn to start, the suspense was almost more than I could bear for the last 20% or so of the novel. Ruth’s commentary and thoughts relating to religion, nature, animals and everything between could feel distracting or cumbersome at times but after finishing the book, I do think it helped to put the reader in her head and heart. Beautiful writing, important themes but dark and heavy (which I love, but not for everyone). Lots to talk about with this one.
Cristian Cucerzan
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Preserved within the pages of this novel are secrets and emotions resulting from those secrets while at the same time diluted by them. The setting is cold; the writer has taken care to enchantingly depict the weather and how it wraps around the characters. The setting makes the relationships feel more necessary, and not just for the fact that there are not many. In an environment where ice keeps everything still, the experience of reading Ruth and Naomi's story is similar to what I imagine it fe ...more
Meredith Resce
Sep 29, 2013 rated it liked it
A dark and disturbing tale of family secrets, incest, misogyny and murder. What made it more disturbing for me was the author chose to use the spiritual context of a rural pentecostal church congregation, led and controlled by the eldest brother of 3. She chose to use language and traditional beliefs of Pentecostal Christians in a way that made a non-church person link the darkness of incest and misogyny with the church practices and traditions. I didn't feel very uplifted by the story. It was p ...more
Sanne (TheBookDutchess)
This book will stay with me for a long time and I'm really glad this was in my Mothbox, because I don't think I would've picked it up (any time soon) otherwise.

I need to gather my thoughts on this one for a little while before I write my review and I'm also unsure about my rating yet. But I will tell you that this is hauntingly beautiful.
Julie Cohen
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: top-rated
This is a beautiful book - one of the best books I've read in some time. So full of heart and complexity, it breaks your heart and fills it with gratitude in the one moment. Such beautiful writing - this one stayed with me.
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Well written and very moving coming of age story of a girl being brought up in a small remote religious community.
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, brutal, devastating, brilliant.
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another book I've had on my shelf for ages and I wish I'd got round to before. I knew I would like it- young female character lives in a religious community in the snow covered wilderness; these are all things I love!
I really liked the writing, it was quite gentle and fitted the voice of the central protagonist Ruth really well. Horrible scenes are described in such a matter of fact way the reader is left feeling shocked but the narrator is evidently not shocked-this is how she lives. The scenes
Maci Hamdorf
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Initially I wasn't sure about this book. The references to nature were a bit too much for me until I was slowly pulled into the poetic writing. This has now become one of my favourite books. Espeseth's emphasis on nature and family and the impact they have on rural life is relatable to many people who grew up in rural America, where family and community, especially the church community, are above all else. Of course the story line was dark, but I really savoured the metaphorical way she spoke ab ...more
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the kind of book that's starting to become my favorite kind of book. Haunting, poetic, isolating, and suspenseful, but not it a way that's really plot heavy. This is not a thinker. This book is pure grit and atmosphere. The suspense comes from the quiet gnawing dwelling that the story is going somewhere unpleasant, but at the same time having no idea where or what that is exactly. I love books about religion and nature. Great read!
Judith Yeabsley
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Just could not get into this. I found it so boring until the last few chapters. Then it was macabre and depressing. The description of every leaf and bird sapped my will to live. A few descriptive paragraphs are perfect. Whole pages devoted to one caterpillar bore me silly. I learned to skip whole swathes of writing in order to reach the end - phew! If this is religion, bring on the atheists ..
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
4.5 stars
Jess Tapley
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Amy Espeseth can write with beauty and intensity, which I admire. She really captured the brutality and the isolation of nature, winter, and extreme fundamentalist religion within a rural community. I also enjoyed reading about the friendship between Ruth and Naomi.

However, I ultimately did not enjoy reading this. I found the writing to be unfocused and distracted. It's clear by the end of the book though, where there is a dramatic shift in tone, that the unfocused writing is a stylistic choice
Bree T
Mar 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Ruth lives in rural Wisconsin with her parents and older brother. They are part of a very isolated and deeply religious community of which Ruth’s Uncle is the preacher. She and her cousin Naomi are the same age and Naomi’s older brother is the same age as Ruth’s brother. Ruth and Naomi are extremely close, sharing everything.

Their lives are ruled by the seasons – the shooting season, the harvesting season. They do not have much and they are ostracised from the greater community by their unfashio
Sian Lile-Pastore
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I enjoyed the first half of this book - how it sets up the world of the religious community, introduces all the characters etc etc and it has an underlying darkness to it that I was kinda into.

Then, it all went downhill for me. The inevitable sexual abuse felt like a plot device rather than an actual harrowing thing, and all the stuff surrounding it just felt overblown and melodramatic. I had zoned out long before the end. I did enjoy the writing style and there were some lovely sections but it
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Winner of the 2009 Victorian Premier's Literary Award, SUFFICIENT GRACE is a difficult book to categorise.

Told from the viewpoint of young Ruth, it's a story about life and survival in a brutal climate, in a brutal, bleak, religious community.

Presented particularly to this reader as a crime novel, I've struggled to get this categorisation to work effectively. Partly I suppose you could call this a psychological thriller, partly there is a small crime element to it, but ultimately it seemed more
Oct 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
This story is told in the voice of Ruth, a 13-year old who lives in an isolated place called Failing, a home to fundamentalist Pentecostals who live in a rural community far from the comforts of city living. She doesn't shrink from death and life, a true farm girl, and her perspective on things is coloured always by her faith, her position in the community as a female child, and her natural environment. The harshness of the winter is so well described that you know without checking that the auth ...more
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Every time I picked up this book, I enjoyed it but didn't love it – and then, today, I just sat down and whipped through the second half of the book and ended up immensely in love with it. It's hard to really put pinpoint what's so amazing. So much of the book feels like waiting on the cusp of something devastating, and to have that feeling so prominent is extraordinary.

Oh dear lord, the last paragraph of the forty-first chapter just about killed me – or at least had me close to tears (and I ver
Chloe Groom
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book has an interesting premise and at first I felt the frequent descriptive passages evoked the spooky, pastoral landscape and community in which Ruth lives very well. But after a while this became rather irksome. I really didn't need a whimsical description of the life cycle of every bird that flew past. Cutting out a good percentage of the description would also have cut out a good number of pages which would be no bad thing in a story that drags to 322 pages. The "terrible secret" allud ...more
Jane Routley
Sep 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: lit-fic
We all know tales of the darkness at the center of fundamentalist religions, but in this story its really dark and really did stick in my mind long after I'd read it. Not only for the slightly horrifying way I found myself accepting the stories ending, but also for the fantastically evocative depiction the heroine's (and the authors) childhood growing up in rural Wisconsin. This is a terrible book to have read in winter because the bone cold Wisconsin winter comes so strongly off the page. Nor i ...more
Jan 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: e-book
I had a mixed reaction to this book. Often the writing was beautiful and evocative, sometimes it was too much. The unique narrative voice drew me in but then was too long-winded in places. There were times when I didn't know that something significant had happened because the narrator spoke in metaphor and mystical, religious language about her distorted, dream-like reality. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if there was less sermonising; at times the narrator's ramblings didn't quite f ...more
4ZZZ Book Club
Amy Espeseth’s debut novel, Sufficient Grace, won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript in 2009, and was recently published by Scribe. Sufficient Grace centres on a thirteen year old girl, Ruthie, growing up in a close-knit, isolated Pentecostal community in rural Wisconsin. When Ruth uncovers a terrible secret, her faith and her trust in those around her are challenged for the first time. It’s a disturbing yet compelling meditation on spirituality, family, and nat ...more
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Like a House on Fire
  • The Mountain
  • My Hundred Lovers
  • Blue
  • Mullumbimby
  • Mateship With Birds
  • Collected Stories
  • Blood
  • The Untold
  • The Handsworth Times
  • Floundering
  • The Hunter
  • Into the Woods: The Battle for Tasmania's Forests
  • The Women's Pages
  • Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East
  • The Old School
  • The Roving Party
  • Letters to the End of Love
See similar books…

Amy Espeseth’s first novel, Sufficient Grace, was awarded the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript in 2009 and was published by Scribe in September 2012. An extract from her second novel, Trouble Telling the Weather, won the QUT Postgraduate Creative Writing Prize in 2010.

Amy was born in rural Wisconsin in 1974 and immigrated to Australia in 1998. She holds a MA in crea
“My love for her burns within me like a flame; she is the child I carry within my heart. I am the lover of her soul; she will not be taken from me. I will be with Naomi, should the Lord tarry, until we lay down together and die. Even then, we will hold each other in death, breathless and asleep underneath the ice and snow and mud. We will hold each other and never be alone.” 3 likes
More quotes…