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The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  499 ratings  ·  76 reviews
In this award-winning, coming-of-age novel, ten-year-old Gracie Lee struggles to make sense out of her life as an Arkansas farm girl in the early 1970s. Wise beyond her age yet imbued with child-like innocence, Gracie focuses on the three things that keep her awake at night:

1. Solving the mystery of the man in the gray house;
2. Surviving another school year at Savage Cross
Paperback, 344 pages
Published January 2016 by Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) Publishing LLC
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Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: Daddy was in a bad mood. I could tell by the slow drawn out crunch of gravel on the driveway. He'd parked by the old plum tree and was taking forever to walk through the back door. He was predictable. Just like my life so far.

'One Mississippi, two Mississippi....'

The truck engine fell quiet, leaving only the sound of tree frogs. Lucky'sears perked. I rubbed the white spot on the back of his neck, and he relaxed back onto the floor beside me.

'Three Mississippi, four Mississippi. ...'

Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I met the author of this book at a book signing in Seaside, FL. I probably never would have bought it, except that she seemed very nice and signed it for me, and I thought it might be a nice beach read, but I was skeptical because it was her first novel. I was SO pleasantly surprised! It was absolutely adorable and I couldn't put it down. For a Southern Baptist raised girl whose parents were from Arkansas where the book was set, it was totally delightful and very reminiscent of my own childhood. ...more
Franny Burd
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
*Disclaimer: I was given an ARC from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, this coming-of-age story has all the heart one could wish for. I hated for it to end! Highly recommended.
As a retired librarian, aspiring writer, and voracious reader, I appreciate the value of categories. They help us to locate books (in the library and bookstore) and search online for titles that match our reading tastes. Talya Tate Boerner’s debut novel does fit into “southern” “rural” and “historical fiction” and a few other categories, but leaving it at that is selling it short. It is also a “coming of age” story, despite Gracie Lee’s being younger than the typical teenaged protagonist. Gracie ...more
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love reading anything set in my home state of Arkansas, and this book was especially wonderful.

In Boerner's debut novel we get to travel to the Delta region of the state in the mid-1970s. The delta region is full of farm land and residents make their living from cotton, beans, and whatever crops they can grow. It is fascinating for me to imagine that type of life, and very exciting to imagine it in the 70s.

This book is told from the perspective of Gracie Lee, a ten year old daughter of a farme
M.C. Simon
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"My two grown children are the best people I know. I hope to be like them someday."

Those words succeeded to fire up my mind. Whatever I simply love, will instantly hook me. Talya Tate Boerner, the architect of the above words, was also the author next in line on my shelf. It’s not that I lock up people, especially authors on my shelves. :) You got it, the book I intended to read after doing some research on the author, belonged to Talya.

When my curiosity was fully satisfied, I opened up the book
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Gracie Lee lives on a farm with her mother, father, little sister and their dog Lucky. She is a nervous worried child, always anxious over everything from whether she will drown during her baptism to how many beers her father has consumed, to what has become of the man from the "pretty gray house." Gracie's mom plays piano at their church. Gracie decides one day during the invitational hymn to go up and speak to Brother Brown about praying for her heavy drinking father with the nasty disposition ...more
Tammy Robinson
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is somewhat of a slow burner, but what a gem. Set in the seventies in the Vietnam era, the book tells the tale of a year in the life of Gracie Lee. she lives on a cotton farm with her momma, dad and younger sister. I found Grace a wonderful character, and the author did a fantastic job of getting inside the head of a ten year old girl growing up with a somewhat dysfunctional family. My heart broke for her at times, yet I also felt her strength and way of looking at the world would see ...more
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How can one be accidentally saved? That's the question that pops into your head when you see the title.

*** MILD spoilers follow ***

Gracie Lee Eudora Abbott is ten years old. The summer is almost over, and school is looming ominously on the all-too-close horizon. So every single day is important! But her mother, Anne, makes her and her sister go to church every Sunday. They can't even play all morning because they'll get dirty, so it's basically an entire day gone out of their busy schedules of b
Adrianna Garrett
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This story stole my heart and reminded me of so many of my own feelings as a 10-year-old trying to understand the world I was growing up in. It is set in the Mississippi Delta in northeast Arkansas in the 70s. I did not grow up in the south near farmers or farmland, but rather in the suburban midwest in the same period. However, Gracie Lee described so many of the feelings and questions I had about the world, religion, my family, and my place in the world. Thoughts and feelings I was desperately ...more
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
First off, let me be honest...the author is a dear friend of mine! But, I am not giving this review based on that information. I am not a big reader, it has to be a book that will keep my attention for me to finish it. Let me say..this book did that! I did not want to put it down, and finished it in one day. I started in at 9 pm on the 1st and stayed up way to late and even read it at lunch at Panera :)
I was able to picture the setting and the characters, yes I have an advantage, but I truly bel
Talya Boerner
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Of course since I wrote it, I love it! I hope you do too.
Laurie L. Mitchell
I love to read, always have. And I read a lot of books, mostly thrillers and mysteries, but also novels, biographies and history. It’s been rare that I’ve found a book that truly sucks, and I can probably count those on one hand (plus a couple of fingers from the other). But it is also rare that I find a book that speaks to me deep down and moves me to my core. “The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee” is one of those books. While I did not have the same struggles in my immediate family, I was fa ...more
The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee is a stunning book, reminiscent of "The Secret Life of Bees" and "To Kill a Mockingbird". Gracie Lee goes swimming in her front yard when spring rains come and overrun the cotton fields, and that is just the beginning. Mesmerizing, and hard to put down, the story draws you in and makes you linger as you puzzle over the same things Gracie Lee puzzles over. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you cringe and shudder. It will bring you ba ...more
Cassie Selleck
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Talya Boerner has a real knack for the child's voice and, more importantly, for telling a story. Her feel for the Southern setting gives the reader a sense of being in the Delta in the 1970s. And the struggles of her character, coming of age in difficult circumstances, will tug at your heartstrings. Great read from a talented author. ...more
Denise Zubal
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a great story! It reminded me a bit of the books by Lesley Kagen that I love! Grace is a lovable and funny character. It was wonderful sharing her views on life, religion, death, hardships, etc. Her sense of humor was especially uplifting.
Ginger Griffin
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Somehow, the N-word never appears in this book. Which is interesting, because I grew up in rural Missouri, not so far from where this book takes place, just a few years earlier than the protagonist. And I heard it a lot.

So how about that Baptist Church, with Brother Brown counseling forgiveness for a black burglar? Uh, no. It's true that I sometimes heard Baptist preachers recommend forgiveness, but that only happened when the sinner was white, financially well off, and preferably male. Funny h
Donna Vincent
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After breakfast this morning, I started this book and even with breaks for laundry and feeding the hungry mouths in my home, I finished it 8 hours later. I didn't want to put it down. Growing up in Mississippi County, I could relate to so much that Gracie Lee experienced and worried about as a 10-year old girl. My heart ached for her and her family at times, and other times I was so proud of her for speaking her mind (a common thread in most MissCo girls), even though the consequences could be h ...more
Glenda Gabhart
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I became so invested in Gracie Lee's life, that I was sad for the book to end. I'm a Licensed, Clinical Social Worker and I know first hand how domestic violence affects women and their children . Talya Tate Boerner absolutely nailed it in expressing the dynamics, and the emotions of family members experience.

Although written from a ten-year-old girl's point of view, the novel is articulate, sophisticated, and well-told. Gracie Lee is a believable person who struggles to make sense of her life:
Colene Chebuhar
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee by Talya Tate Boerner: There’s so much to love about Gracie Lee and some of the other characters in this debut novel and there is much to hate about others. The author drew me into the pages as though I was right there with Gracie Lee. She sets the scene so well that I could visualize everything from the trees, the school house, the church pew where she sits every Sunday and the kitchen where Gracie spends so much time with her sister and her mother. I beli ...more
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This highly anticipated novel did not disappoint. It is rich in detail and emotion. I was hooked by the very first sentence and had a hard time putting it down! I fell in love with Gracie Lee, laughed with her and cried with her. This story will grip your heart and never let go. If you are a fan of To Kill a Mockingbird you will love this book for years to come. Looking forward to the sequel and so happy there is one!!!
Rhonda Williams
May 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love southern fiction, and especially love it when it is written by a fellow Arkansas author! Gracie Lee is a grand read full of all the details that one might expect from southern fiction. There is angst, rebellion, plenty of "churching", slightly dysfunctional families, Elvis, and farming! Fabulous story! ...more
Judy Falkoff
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gracie Lee is the all American little southern farm girl. I was transported back to my childhood. This book gave me the sweet reminder of how lucky I was. Talya Tate Boerner didn't miss a thing! And Mae! We all need a Mae. I couldn't put it down. ...more
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Could of been written about me and my childhood. Loved the story! Sad but redeeming. Keep up the good work. Will read more from you!
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who has chanced upon Talya Boerner's Grace, Grits and Gardening blog knows this lady can write. Boerner's skill in bringing rural Arkansas to life is comparable to Frank Deford's ability to make football interesting to a self-proclaimed book nerd.

If the delightful title doesn't capture you, the first page will. Readers are swiftly immersed in the tense, palpably awkward family of young Gracie Lee. Boerner allows the reader to feel the tension build as Gracie Lee counts in her
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Our protagonist is a feisty, curious ten year old, Gracie. She's bright and anxious about life and her place in the world around her.
We watch her deal with school bullies, a brooding drunkard father, her worries about the soldiers in Vietnam, a mysterious neighbor, growing up.... you name it....this child's unchecked imagination compounds the situation. She does have a caring but overwhelmed mother and a sweet younger sister, grandparents, a huge church family, and a protective housekeeper.
Rocky Moore
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Although I found myself rooting for Gracie Lee, the tough-as-nails protagonist, it was the preacher in this novel who really captured my imagination. I found myself in his shoes as a little girl stepped into the aisle at altar call while the congregation begrudgingly waded through yet another verse of "Just As I Am". I wanted him to think about fried chicken, but he checked his impatience and provided a toehold for Gracie Lee as she struggled to untangle the webbing of faith, duty, expectations, ...more
Richard Kolivoski
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is so engaging. Gracie is a spunky girl, who is a little like a modern female Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn. She lives in the fictional town of Savage Crossing, Arkansas, in the early 70's. She explores the really big questions of life, love, God, faith, doubt, fear, laughter, heartbreak, and everything else from a ten-year-old perspective. I won't give spoilers but this book charmed me, shook me, made me angry, made me laugh out loud and kept me wanting to hear more.
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a Great Grandmother and I was totally enthralled with Gracie Lee an intelligent young girl of 10 years who is always seeking out truths and is very inquisitive about life in general, her family and the difficult relationship with her father... it put me in the perspective of this 10 year old girl... I read at night and it was always difficult to put the book down to get some sleep. Excellent book. Tylya Tate Boerner is an excellent author, "The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee" being her ...more
Susan Williams
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book

This book takes me back to my childhood and was a joy to read. I hope she writes another one about life in MissCo.
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Talya Tate Boerner is a delta girl who grew up making mudpies on her family’s cotton farm in Mississippi County (Northeast Arkansas). After thirty years as a commercial banker in Dallas, she returned to the state she loves and now lives in Fayetteville with her husband, John, and two miniature schnauzers, Lucy and Annabelle. Talya is a regular contributor to Delta Crossroads and Front Porch Magazi ...more

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29 likes · 2 comments
“Three Mississippi, Four Mississippi… Tucking Barbie underneath the throw pillow on my lap, I traced my finger over the red blooms that covered my library book. Abby, my little sister, lay dozing on the opposite end of the couch, sprawled flat on her back. She had a way of sleeping through anything—a loud television show, or even one of Momma and Daddy’s late-night arguments.” 1 likes
“spot on the couch, I listened to the nightly sounds of our house, as familiar as the hymns we sang every Sunday morning at Boon Chapel. The crack of the ice tray. The opening of the silverware drawer with its earsplitting creak. As Momma reheated Daddy’s supper, the smell of fried potatoes and salt pork filled the air. Abby and I had eaten hours ago. When Daddy worked extra late, Momma” 1 likes
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