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The Grace Year

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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.

416 pages, Hardcover

First published October 8, 2019

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About the author

Kim Liggett

9 books2,185 followers

Kim Liggett, originally from the rural midwest, moved to New York City to pursue a career in the arts. She's the author of Blood and Salt, Heart of Ash, The Last Harvest (Bram Stoker Award Winner), The Unfortunates, and The Grace Year. Kim spends her free time studying tarot and scouring Manhattan for rare vials of perfume and the perfect egg white cocktail.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 16,423 reviews
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,480 reviews79k followers
October 12, 2022
"I have to remind myself -the dresses, the red ribbons, the veils, the ceremonies- they're all just distractions to keep our minds off the real issue at hand. The grace year.

My chin begins to quiver when I think of the year ahead, the unknown, but I plaster on a vacant smile, as if I'm happy to play my part, so I might return and marry and breed and die. But not all of us will make it home...not in one piece."

Hello, good evening, and let me introduce you to my favorite book of 2019, The Grace Year. I know it sounds ridiculous to be picking a favorite book when half of the year hasn't even passed us by, but that's how sure I am that nothing else will even come close to measuring against what this book did to me-how it made me feel-and for how it will affect my thoughts and behavior long term. This book was horrifying and beautiful, weighty yet buoyant, and I will never be the same again after experiencing what was written in these pages. I finished the story last night, but I couldn't shake what I'd read, even in my dreaming state, and I don't think I'll be able to get a good night's sleep again until I work through this review, so here goes nothing.

"As the gate closes on the guards troubled faces, it's clear they truly believe we're loathsome creatures that need to be hidden away for safekeeping, for our own good, to exorcise the demons lurking inside of us, but even in this cursed place, anger, fear, and resentment boiling inside of me, I still don't feel magical. I still don't feel powerful. I feel forsaken."

While the county that The Grace Year takes place in is a dystopian type setting, it is certainly brought to life in a way that makes it feel real. If you've read the synopsis to this book, then you know the basic gist of the story, and the early readers stating that this has The Handmaid's Tale meets Lord of the Flies vibes are spot on. The entire story is written to the extreme, and yet every moment, down to the most minute detail, is an allegory for experiences that most (dare I say all?) females have encountered at some point and time by their sixteenth birthday.

The writing is atmospheric, breathtakingly beautiful, and evokes the most basic and raw emotion from the reader. Perhaps I had too many preconceived notions going in, but I was also surprised by quite a few of the little twists and turns that Liggett throws at us, and I utterly adore that she did not cut any corners or take any easy outs with this story. There are some really hard, horrifying, things that happen in this book, and even to the very last page, no one is guaranteed a happily ever after, and yet I've never felt more hopeful, secure, and proud to be a woman as I was when I turned the final page of The Grace Year. I know I haven't given much in terms of plot detail, but I truly believe each and every reader should go into this one with an open mind, and open heart, and a need for compulsive page turning, because that's exactly what this book will provide.

I cannot recommend this story highly enough and there aren't enough stars on the entirety of Goodreads to express how emphatically I want you to add this book to your TBR. In some ways, I think females will appreciate this book the most, solely for the feminist thematic elements and encouragement, but I also believe that many men would enjoy and benefit from reading this book as well. Beyond the priceless message it provides, The Grace Year is a highly entertaining read that I wish had been around when I was a teenager. The ending provides the type of female camaraderie that I wished for my predecessors, hope to see for myself and my generation, and feel arising in both of my daughters' generation. Well done, and I cannot wait for this story to be out in the world so that everyone else can read it and discuss.

"The things we do to girls. Whether we put them on pedestals only to tear them down, or use them for parts and holes, we're all complicit in this. But everything touches everything else and I have to believe that some good will come out of all this destruction. The men will never end the grace year. But maybe we can."

*Uncorrected Bound Manuscript provided via the publisher.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
September 25, 2019
“Look around,” Kiersten says as she stares me dead in the eyes. “We are the only Gods here.”

4 1/2 stars. Wow. This book was hard to put down! And the ending made me really emotional.

The Grace Year is such an exciting mix of horror, survival and the best of YA dystopias from 5-10 years back. It really is like a darker, more feminist version of The Hunger Games. I had a really busy week, but I looked for every opportunity possible to sit down with this book and get sucked back into this ugly patriarchal world. Nothing gets my blood pumping and the pages turning like a heavy dose of infuriating unfairness.

This is one of those rare novels where I think the fictional world actually benefits from some vague world-building. There is something very sinister and claustrophobic about the tiny oppressive world of Garner County, a feeling of wrongness about it, a feeling that you never know quite what is lurking beyond its edges.

In the county, girls are banished to the wilds during their sixteenth year - their "Grace Year" - in order to purge themselves of their dangerous "magic". This magic is said to be an ability to seduce men, lure them to sin and all manner of unsavory things. Once out in the wild, the girls need to survive the elements, evade the poachers who are looking to harvest their body parts, and just not kill each other. All are easier said than done, of course, and especially the latter.
“They can call it magic.
I can call it madness.
But one thing is certain.
There is no grace here.”

You can compare this to many other works - The Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies being the most obvious - but it has a unique flavour that's all it's own.

It's dark and gory. It's very much a tale of survival against the odds. But what is so odd about The Grace Year is that it’s about women going wild, being jealous, viciously hurting each other, and yet it somehow manages to be a celebration of women and the ties between them. Mothers and daughters. Sisters. Friends. It's quite incredible how Liggett takes these women to their very worst so that we can eventually appreciate them at their best.

I loved the whole eating/cannibalism metaphor, too. How patriarchy works because it forces women into a position where they are enemies, and they have to devour one another to get ahead. Powerful, horrible, and all too true.

The only downside is how the characters all seem to default to white. The only girls whose physical appearances are described are pale and prone to blushing. It's a shame in a book which is otherwise so pro-woman and could easily have been remedied by describing characters with different skin colours.

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Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,303 reviews43.9k followers
January 23, 2022
Four somebody hold the door please, because I’m volunteer to get this bloody, scary, mind twisting and shouting, terrifying, not nail biter but whole arm biter, making you addict to the anxiety pills but you’re going to need to taste your boundaries stars!

Two cups of “ Handmaid’s Tale”
One table spoon of “Hunger Games”
Two pinches of “Beach” and “Annihilation”
And one cup of “ Lord of the flies”

Mixed them with anger, frustration, witchy spells, pure magic, violence. And finally add some survival and combat skills, harshness, vulgarism, mercilessness and as soon as it gets cold, please serve it with feminism, equality, women friendship, liberation ( For the French version it will be served with fraternite, egalite, liberte)!

It can be better pair with thriller, apocalyptic , dark, violent, nightmarish book fans!

Don’t let pink cover fool you! If you expect a soft chic lit about women’s journey, please drop it before it gets glued to your hands! If you’re not ready for this book, as soon as you’re gonna want to finish it and you’re gonna start dreaming but I can assure you are not going to see a little girl in your dreams as like as our heroine did.

My minority report for the characters:

Tierney James: Mashup of Katniss Everdeen , German TV series Dark’s parallel universe Martha( the girl we saw at the last scene), Michonne from `”The Walking Dead”. Tough, survivor, problem solver, smart, pure feminist, idealist, skillful fighter.

Ryker: Avenger’s Clint Barton( Jeremy Renner’s archer character) meets Caprio’s Revenant character, Hugh Glass ( at least Ryker doesn’t raw liver) ! Protector, loyal, real good fighter, healer. He’s mysterious, wounded, man of his word but he’s also romantic guy who is ready to sacrifice himself for his love of his life, Tierney.

Michael: Noble, decent guy is about to start his prestigious job, reminds us of Mr. Darcy. Maybe it’s not fair to talk about him at the third place. Because we don’t much see him on the book ( we see him at the beginning and the ending but he makes life changing moves and changes Tierney’s life completely so I have to mention him.)

WRITING: Smart, fast paced, surprising, gripping.

CHARACTERS: All those girls could give you nightmares! They’re acting like incarnated Betty Davis and Joan Crawford ! They’re pure evil, batshit crazy, violent and ruthless! Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest could be considered as a Disney princess if I have to compare those girls with her!

ENDING: A good one, at least there is no total massacre or elimination. It was bloodless, bullet-less , wound-less ! Gives us hope and soothes our anxiety!

WHY I CUT THE ONE STAR: It was chaotic, fast pacing thriller but as soon as I reach at the middle of the book, romance parts didn’t suit so well but the horrifying and severe parts of the book !

And I’m so pissed off that one of the worst villanelles didn’t get what she deserved!

The love triangle was not necessary for me ! ( It doesn’t count as triangle because two men never meet or cross with each other) This book might have stayed as manifesto of women’s uprising to decide their own destinies!

But still it is a good try, well crafted, capturing story and I enjoyed it!

Special thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for sending me ARC COPY exchange of my honest review!
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews156k followers
August 21, 2022
The Grace Year refused to dissipate and hung like a poisonous vapor long after I finished it, pervading every corner of my room like a simmering toxin. The feeling was a violent plunge encompassing revulsion and sorrow far beyond the personal: a sick, scorching nausea at humanity's violence against itself since the dawn of time. And though the ending was more hopeful than grim, I still feel my anger still brimming and unspent.

They call it the Grace Year, using so innocuous a word to obscure so hideous a truth. No one talks about what happens during the Grace Year: about the girls who return with blunt brutal looks, a residue of old violence about them, and the girls who don't return at all.

When Tierney turns sixteen, it is her turn to embark on the Grace Year. Banished to an isolated compound, she and the other Grace Year Girls have to live on the sharp edge of starvation, half-mad with their own circling, heartsick with the sameness of their days. But worse than that—even worse than the poachers prowling the edges of their prison, smelling their fear like sharks smell blood, ready to pounce and devour—is a darkness creeping evilly upon the girls’ senses. The fortunate ones don a veil, as red as the sins they’re supposed to expunge, symbolizing a promise for marriage once the Grace Year is over. The less fortunate ones have only a life of labor—or worse—waiting for them. If indeed any of them had even a single day to look forward to.

Maybe the reason no one speaks of the grace year is because of us. How could the men live among us, lie with us, let us care for their children, knowing the horrors we inflict upon one another . . . alone . . . in the wilderness . . . in the dark?

This is the premise that dramatically sets the stage for The Grace Year, and it’s the stuff of nightmares. The beginning of this novel held my eyes rooted to the page. I was entranced and horrified all at once. The Grace Year, however, soon changes gear and, for a while, is primarily involved with the dislocation of Tierney’s life during the Grace Year—both physical and emotional. So submerged and embattled with fatigue and desperation and unable to shake off the sense of being watched, there rises a sensation that Tierney is slowly undoing herself, unwinding herself thread by thread. Her narrative voice becomes detached, sort of grayish and dullish and faraway-seeming. This is echoed multitudinously by the prose-rich passages of hallucinogenic accounts, and it makes for an uneasy read sometimes. While the writing fits the general aura, for a while every turn of the page felt—at least to me—like pressing forward through an endless briar patch. Fortunately, the author doesn't overextend herself awfully much, and tackling a few extra pages of such lavishly descriptive prose as filtered through Tierney’s evocative voice is a meager price to pay for a such a bold, affecting read.

There are plenty of enjoyable set pieces here. Misogyny is, of course, the narrative’s destructive force. The Grace Year does a good job of emphasizing the brittleness of a male-dominated society that uses fear and ignorance to stiffen female individuality into silence. The novel also hauntingly underscores how corrosive it is to the soul to grow up as a young woman saddled with generations of toxic abusive patriarchal demons. Kim is so skilled an author and the case she makes is so dramatically compelling—and so horrifyingly substantiated—that the book never seems overbearingly didactic.

The author also makes no bones about the fact that the real monsters are not the women who are cruel to one another in order to fit into a male space, it’s the men who use women to their benefit, pitting them into competition, turning them against each other—with a bright, horrible relish—to fight for a token role. Internalized misogyny is an idea that runs deep in the veins of the novel and the author confronts it with brilliance and thoughtfulness.

“We hurt each other because it’s the only way we’re permitted to show our anger. When our choices are taken from us, the fire builds within. Sometimes I feel like we might burn down the world to cindery bits, with our love, our rage, and everything in between.”

If I had to point out a few other quibbles, it would be that the emerging love story is not only handled unevenly overall in the book but I’m not sure it’s altogether convincing (or necessary). In fact, it winds up being more window dressing than anything else, and the novel could have done without. The unwieldy list of characters also doesn’t meld well with the frenetic style, as there is not really enough time to spend with each of them and their characterization is flimsy enough to disappear them into the cracks of the story.

That said, The Grace Year is a pretty solid read—so terrifyingly specific, and yet so hauntingly universal.
Profile Image for Lala BooksandLala.
500 reviews63.9k followers
October 13, 2019
This had a lot going for it, but the pace threw me off and it had one of my most hated tropes..so a middle of the road 3 star is where we land. It's smart; conventional enough of a plot that it's easy to sink right into the story, but unique enough that it didn't feel like another paint-by-number "dystopian". I might have quite enjoyed this as a teen.
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
701 reviews3,352 followers
September 6, 2023
The Grace Year opens like a mix of The Hunger Games and The Handmaid's Tale, then shifts to a retelling of Lord of the Flies. It's poised to be a feminist tale of sisterhood and equality, but the protagonist starts her journey with only male friendship and later isolates herself with another male companion. The way she professes her love to him is by willingly sacrificing her dream of freedom and sleeping with him.

For a feminist retelling of Lord of the Flies that proves to be everything this book could have been, check out Wilder Girls by Rory Power.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews942 followers
June 21, 2019
How do you review a book that you enjoyed reading immensely yet it has glaringly poor execution?

The plot is sooo good.
Welcome to a world where girls are banished to an isolated camp for their sixteenth year of life (The Grace Year) to vanquish the "magic", or power, they hold over men, only to be married off or assigned duties as an indentured worker upon their return.

"White ribbons for the young girls, red for the grace year girls, and black for the wives. Innocence. Blood. Death."

This camp sounds like a great setup for some serious nightmarish drama, huh?

Well, we'll never know because very little of the storyline revolves around the day to day inner workings of the camp.

I found it difficult to get on board from the beginning because there is no background, no history to tell the reader how we got to this point in time. Little to no character development.

The pacing is so off. Months pass by with the turn of a page. Months that I wanted to hear about.

The MC had so much potential. She is painted to be a strongwillled forward thinking girl in a backwards world. Yet at the camp she allows herself to be mercilessly bullied to the point of near death with no attempts at defending herself. In the end she does little to advance the plight of the women.

I don't think I'm giving anything away here when I ask why does EVERY YA book feature a romance? There's no room for it in this storyline. It's another eye rolling insta-love that does not fit the girl power theme.

This book has been compared to a marrying of Lord of the Flies and The Handmaid's Tale and I think that's a fair assessment in as far as the plot goes. However, The Grace Year doesn't quite reach the level of tension and abject horror found in those stories.

This book lands flatly in the YA genre and teen girls are going to eat it up, thus I suspect it will be an instant bestseller upon release.

5 Stars for entertainment
3 Stars for execution

You do the math.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
October 11, 2020

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This book is one of my biggest disappointments in years. Everyone was talking about how great this was-- it's the YA Hype Train™ in action, yet again, and once more, I'm left behind in the dust to wonder, "Did I read a different book than everyone else?" It's not that I don't trust your judgement, exactly, it's just that-- okay, yeah, I don't trust your judgement. What the fuck was this?

THE GRACE YEAR is a book that borrows ideas and concepts from several notable works of speculative dystopic-themed fiction, including (obviously) The Handmaid's Tale, but also The Crucible, The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies, and The Purge. It's set in a society with institutional and social misogyny built inherently into its system where women are sorted by caste based on their marital status and believed to be full of magic that is both a danger and an aphrodisiac. At age sixteen, they're released into the woods beyond to sow their proverbial wild oats, and release their magic, despite the many dangers of the woods and the poachers who collect and sell their bodies to be used in potions.

Tierney, the main character, is one of these girls. Before their release, they are "claimed" by the men who want them, and Tierney is as surprised as anyone when she's promised to a boy before she leaves. Once out in the wilds, it takes a decidedly Lord of the Flies note where the girls go a little crazy at the behest of their sociopathic and Resident Mean Girl Ringleader™ who seems to hate women just as much, if not more so, as the men in this book, so what's a little girl on girl hate?

People were lauding this book for its feminist themes. I don't really see that. Men play such a focal point in this story and end up being Tierney's saving grace. The girls and women all hate each other, and it doesn't really bring any new criticisms to the table that stories like Handmaid haven't already done. There's also the usual YA love triangle in this book, which in my opinion makes it even less of a feminist work, particularly since it feels so unnecessary and is done so passionlessly. All of the twists feel like cop-outs and lack finesse. I thought the big secret was totally lame-- and, even worse, I completely predicted it. From the beginning. But I've read all the books that this author probably drew inspiration from, which is the problem with being well-read. Nothing surprises you anymore.*

*Yes, I realize that sounds snobby. But all my haters accuse me of that anyway, so I may as well revel in my literary snobbery. I'm not ashamed: I am one smart bitch, and I fucking know it.

*tips fedora*

Maybe if this book hadn't been sold to me as The Next Big Thing with people hyping it up left and right, I probably would have liked it more. But I'm honestly shocked everyone is kicking up such a big fuss about it. I thought it was unimaginative and lacked the world and character development it so desperately needed to make it great. The beginning had so much promise and then it jumped the shark and the story went to shit. Curse you, YA Hype Train™, for setting me up to be the bad guy yet again.

1.5 stars
Profile Image for Maura.
169 reviews18 followers
April 23, 2021
This book seems to be written with the idea that getting teenage girls to think about feminism is like getting a dog to swallow a pill by hiding it in a piece of cheese, where the cheese in this case is every harmful and regressive trope in YA literature. (With no attempt to parody or subvert them or anything like that.)

It does finally come together and have a satisfying ending, but it takes so long and is such a slog to get there because I did not connect with the main character at all.

If there’s one thing Tierney wants you to know about her, it’s that she’s not like other girls. For fucks sake. Yes, this kind of internalized misogyny makes sense in the deeply misogynistic society she lives in, but her belief that other girls are stupid sheep is fully supported by the text right up until the very end, when she suddenly changes her mind, not because of what she’s seen, but despite it. I kept waiting for the author to do something clever and subvert the expectations she’d set up because, again, so many gushy blurbs, but that just kept not happening.

If there’s a second thing Tierney wants you to know about her, it’s that she’s smart. (Though technically, this is part of the whole not like other girls thing.) In fact, she is not particularly bright; the first act of the story, where we should be getting to know and sympathize with her, has so many scenes where she’s completely blindsided by a “twist” that the reader sees coming a mile away. This is partially a case of first person POV backfiring; it would be a lot easier to understand Tierney being caught off guard if every scrap of info we used to predict what was going to happen had not just been explained to us by Tierney herself.

There is this super eerie mystery to look forward to though; what happens during the grace year? All 16 year old girls are sent off to a walled off encampment in the woods for a year, so that they can purge themselves of their evil feminine magic. No one is allowed to speak of what happens during their grace year, but women come back without fingers or ears…many don’t come back at all! OK, creepy! But then they finally get there (after almost 100 pages) and it’s like “Oh…that’s it? Yeah…that’s what I was kind of worried it was going to be…hoping for more than that though.”

And then it’s just pointless violence for another 200 pages. And I get the point the author is making But the execution suuuuccckkkked. Because, if you don’t care about Tierney by this point then guess what, there aren’t any other characters for you to root for. Oh yeah, she’s locked in there with a large group of other girls her own age…but all girls except for Tierney are just mindless sheep, remember? The only other character, if we are being very generous, is Kiersten , though she is just the flat, purely evil, slutty, mean girl antagonist obsessed with persecuting Tierney because she’s jealous of how cool Tierney is. The other girls are nothing but a list of names. One girl gets a little screen time because she used to be friends with Kiersten but then they had a falling out and there’s a little mystery about what happened… and then another girl adopts a pet bird…and that’s it. That is literally all that distinguishes this long list of girls names from one another. Often a name is introduced for the first time just sentences before she dies and we know nothing about her.

Even her four sisters back home, who we are told are the emotional leverage keeping Tierney in line, are barely more than blank facades; there's an older sister who is nice to her, an older sister who is not, and two younger sisters who are interchangeable small girls.

And then, just when you’re thinking, well, at least there’s no horrifyingly disturbing romance
May 5, 2023
Intelligent, haunting & mesmerizing emotional thriller!

I loved this book so much. I wanted to stop at a few points and discuss with someone but I didn’t have anyone reading it with me or a book club to discuss it with. There is just so much worth talking about. I am feeling so much and out this book right now. I just saw that it is being made into a movie and I already can’t wait. I was totally engrossed throughout the entire book and it surprised me more often than not. Almost every time I thought something was going to happen, I got hit with something completely unexpected instead.

It starts out with the main character Tierney who is about to enter her Grace Year. The county is set up with extremely misogynistic laws. They say that girls have magic in their sixteenth year and that they are dangerous so they send all the girls away to a separate colony in the woods for a year, and the girls from the previous year return on the same day as the new girls leave.

Before leaving they have a ceremony where the eligible men and 16 year old boys choose from the girls who they want to marry and they give veils to the fathers of their choice, each father brings the veil home to his daughter. At the ceremony the boy lifts the veil and the girl sees the boy whom she will marry. The girls not chosen will either be sent to the fields or put to service for the remainder of their lives. Tierney isn’t like other girls, she doesn’t long to get a vail and get married, she actually wants to work in the fields. She feels being married is tantamount to being owned.

One strange part of the story is the girls that go away, they are at a colony-like place surrounded by walls and woods and there are poachers outside the walls. So if any of the girls stray from the path on the way there, try to escape while they are there or get banished by the rest of the girls for some reason, are almost immediately caught by the poachers. They skin the girls alive and put all of their organs and parts into jars to be sold on the black market. The poachers won’t come into the colony for fear of being cursed by the magic.

The poachers are men from the outskirts of the county. They are generally the sons of prostitutes. People (women or girls) from the county can get banned to the outskirts as punishment. Young girls are punished if their sisters go missing during their Grace year and their bodies are not accounted for by the poachers. Punishments are harsh, obviously and doled out by the council.

In fact, the only time magic comes up is when it’s convenient for them. Like when Mrs. Pinter’s husband died, Mr. Coffey suddenly accused his wife of twenty-five years of secretly harboring her magic and levitating in her sleep. Mrs. Coffey was as meek and mild as they come—hardly the levitating sort—but she was cast out. No questions asked. And surprise, surprise, Mr. Coffey married Mrs. Pinter the following day.
But if I ever made such an accusation, or if I came back from my grace year unbroken, I would be sent to the outskirts to live among the prostitutes.

What happens during Tierney’s Grace Year is quite a revelation. I couldn’t figure out for the longest time if the magic was real or not. Also we know that in certain ways Tierney was more prepared for the year than many of her female counterparts, because she was a tomboy and worked with her father as well as spent a lot of time in the woods with Michael, but she had so much going against her. Kiersten was the leader of the girls and she makes an awesome villain. She was evil from the beginning when she teased Tierney saying she would “pray for her to get a vail”.

During the this time, I think I felt everything Tierney was feeling. The book was so well written. The characters all came alive, I could see the camp, the well, the cots, the tree it was all so vivid. I really can’t wait for it to be brought to life in movie form. I don’t like to give away any spoilers past the beginning 10-20% of the book, so I won’t go into more, but to say that Tierney finds a lot of truth about herself, her family, and her society as she is out there. It is a true physical and emotional journey and it’s awesome!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
January 6, 2020
another feminist dystopia, another underwhelmed jessica. seems pretty on brand for me at the moment, unfortunately.

this review is probably going to be all over the place because i cant really articulate why this didnt quite work for me. it wasnt a horrible reading experience - in fact, the story is so fast paced that it makes for a quick read. maybe i just wasnt in the right mood for this? because all i could keep thinking whilst reading is 'why? what is the purpose of this?'

and what it keeps coming back to is the world building. there just isnt enough of it to sustain my interest in the dystopian aspect of the story. i have soooo many questions and im not sure if everything is kept vague because the aim of the story is to be mysterious, or the world building is just seriously lacking and underdeveloped. im leaning more towards the latter at this point.

and maybe this was a ‘wrong book at the wrong time’ kind of situation for me. i need to learn, that when this happens, to set the book aside and come back to it, rather than push though and give it a mediocre rating/review. not really fair.

regardless, im happy to see that this is getting so much hype and praise from others!

2.5 stars
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,607 reviews10.7k followers
May 23, 2023
In the County, girls are banished from the community during their 16th-year. It is believed that this is the age at which a girl's true magic will be revealed.

Apparently, these young ladies are so tantalizing, they threaten to steal husbands from wives, driving the wives crazy with jealousy in the process.

The girls are sent to live together in a fenced-in compound deep in the woods. Once there, the girls must survive completely on their own, without any supervision, for a full year.

This time in their lives is known as the Grace Year.

When the year has passed, the survivors return to the community, get married, have babies, take care of their husbands and slowly watch their souls be crushed live happily ever after.

Tierney James has always dreamed of more; a better life. When her Grace Year arrives, however, she knows she is powerless to stop it.

Shipped off with the rest of the girls, she decides to try her best to motivate them all to work together in order to survive. It doesn't have to be that bad, does it?

Unfortunately, not all of the girls are there to play nice. A true Lord of the Flies situation unfolds. This is their first time on their own, without any adults, and it shows.

These girls get real brutal, real quick!

Before she knows it, Tierney is literally on the brink of death, with seemingly no allies.

How will she ever make it through her Grace Year alive?

This was definitely an interesting examination of women's rights, relationships and roles within society. The Dystopian world, both inside and outside of the County, was harsh and unforgiving.

There was a lot of drama amongst the girls and definitely some surprisingly savage moments.

Unfortunately, my mind kept wandering.

I never became fully engrossed within the story. Some of it felt very surface level and I ended up feeling fairly blasé about the whole thing.

Absolutely if you are interested in a YA-version of The Handmaid's Tale meets Lord of the Flies, you should pick this up.

That's pretty much a perfect description of this story. Although I wasn't crazy about the romantic elements, I think overall it is a good story.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

As always, I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to seeing more from Kim Liggett in the future.
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,126 reviews3,712 followers
October 6, 2019
Happy Sweet Sixteen!

Occasionally I like to really switch things up from my thrillers and read a frightening dystopian novel. Though it’s extremely rare (if ever) that I read something labeled YA. But I was greatly rewarded for stepping outside my little comfort zone! And bluntly put… I WAS BLOWN AWAY!! I was locked in and spellbound from the opening page!
I read this one while on vacation....and all I wanted to do was get back to the room and keep reading! (It was just that good!)

Tierney is entering her 16th year, a year known as The Grace Year. A time when all young women are sent away to an encampment where they go to release their magic. After which, they return home to take their rightful place as wives or possibly face a bleak, uncertain future. That’s assuming they even come back at all...

The looming question? Is your worst fate lurking inside the gates or out? Who can you trust? Not your friends, not the guards, or the poachers. To quote an old warning, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” At this point, and most disturbing, can you really even trust yourself?

If you enjoy dystopian novels don’t skip on this read! Weeks later...still can’t stop reflecting on this book! Definitely one of my favorite books for 2019.

A buddy read with Susanne!

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martins Press and Kim Liggett for an ARC to read and review
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
May 4, 2022
oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for BEST YOUNG ADULT FICTION 2019! what will happen?

this book loves me

but i only consider it a really good friend.

i had been looking forward to reading this like crazy, but i didn't love it as much as everybuddy else, and that makes my readerheart sad.

the premise sounded outstanding: speculative feminist fiction featuring a hyper-patriarchal community in which the fear of female sexuality is so profound that sixteen-year-old girls are rounded up and exiled for a year in an outlying compound; isolated from good decent folk while the potency of their sexual awakening is released harmlessly into the wilderness so they can then return purified, ready for the duties of marriage IF they have been chosen by an unmarried man, or for the working world if they have not. no one who has not gone through the ordeal themselves knows what *actually* transpires during the grace year—speaking of it is forbidden, but many girls die or do not return, giving even more strength to the belief in the seeeeecret magical power of sexy teengirls.

through the eyes of reluctant and rebellious tierney james, we will learn all about what goes on behind those closed gates, when girls who have never been allowed freedom, agency, or any control over their lives whatsoever are thrown together and forced to survive a whole year without supervision or intervention, with uncivilized ‘poachers’ ready to kill them if they stray into the woods, all while they are—let us not forget—being relentlessly purged of their sexual toxins; exposed to the highly-concentrated outpourings of so much dangerous female magic.

spoiler alert: contrary to what we all know about what happens when teengirls are left to their own devices, there are zero sexxy pillow fights.

i loved about 3/4 of this book. it started out with great promise, intensifying suspense, mysterious details—building the world of this sexually repressed, misogynistic community where troublesome wives can be gotten rid of—in that old public execution-y way—for dubious reasons, all on a man’s say-so, thus freeing up his bed for some sweet tender teenbride, where marriage is the only salvation or protection for women (unless—of course—you become troublesome), where women can be banished for minor infractions, or for the infractions of their sisters, fostering a climate of fear and competitive viciousness as social survival mechanism, pitting women against each other, and now let's toss a couple dozen adolescent girls who have been told they have magical powers into close, unmonitored, quarters and see what happens!

bring on survival of the cruelest.

all of this was great—the character dynamics were as fierce as i’d expected, the spectrum of emerging personality traits allowed to develop in this self-governed community felt authentic, the psychological stress and escalating tension was well-handled and that reveal was top-notch. it reminded me of two other books that would spoil this book if i named them here and would spoil THOSE books if i put them in spoiler tags, so i’ll just appreciate it on my own. but if you want some name-droppy readalikes, this is definitely Lord of the Flies meets The Handmaid's Tale meets The Crucible.

around the 3/4 mark, however, it lost me a bit. there was a big chunk of story that revisited already-covered ground without contributing anything new, there was a completely perfunctory love story; one with necessary dramatic payoff, sure, but its development was bland, and the story seemed to lose its way. i thought the ending was strong, if a little on-the-nose, and my overall post-read impression is favorable, but that big disappointing chunk lost momentum for me, and it was hard to recover.

also, speaking as someone who has never referred to a map in a book that included them, for the first time ever i really could have used one. it was hard for me to picture this location, to understand where the safe places were w/r/t the compound, and how locations were...arranged. i read this as an arc, and it’s possible the finished book will provide one for visualizationally-challenged folks like me, but i struggled a little.

i liked it more than i didn’t, but some of it falls apart under scrutiny. so, do not scrutinize! take it as allegory, as symbolism, read chelsea and tatiana’s excellent reviews, and i will round up my 3 1/2 stars because i did like so much of it.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
829 reviews4,706 followers
March 15, 2020
5 Hauntingly Beautiful, Riveting and Completely Devastating Stars for The Grace Year ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Full RTC but if you haven’t read this one - don’t waste another second - add it to your TBR
Profile Image for Booktastically Amazing.
502 reviews416 followers
January 18, 2022
Content Warnings: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book...

The only thing I have to say, READ IT AND PLEASE COME BACK, I NEED SOMEONE TO CRY TO. Yeah, that's all. Also, *whispering* There's a small spoiler free piece after that warning. A tiny one though. Basically me freaking out/ fangirling.

RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 4.7


“They call us the weaker sex. It’s pounded into us every Sunday in church, how everything’s Eve’s fault for not expelling her magic when she had the chance, but I still can’t understand why the girls don’t get a say. Sure, there are secret arrangements, whispers in the dark, but why must the boys get to decide everything? As far as I can tell, we all have hearts. We all have brains. There are only a few differences I can see, and most men seem to think with that part anyway.”



The plot twists:...


(Currently having a mild heart attack after having waited a looooong time to get my feelings into words that have a semi decipherable meaning)

Getting poetic for a millisecond, how do you talk about a story that reached beneath the veins of your entire foundation and ripped it out in a single jagged stroke? How can I explain the utter pain in what could actually be a possible reality? What could've happened? How in the world can I express such a masterpiece like this one? I don't know how to explain all that, but I will try. Like all the girls in this book did. They tried, and for that, they will forever hold the burning torch in my soul.

So *clears throat* I am here. I am woketh. I have been wokenated. My heart is another matter, but we won't talk about that. This book, guys. It was amazing.

(cue end of review)

Okay, so, making this as organized as my chaotic self can make it, I’ll write a little (I.e. tiny, minuscule, barely existent) spoiler-free review, before I dive directly into HOLY BLOODY COFFINS WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHAT HAPPENED, territory.

One thing I can take away from this story, without spoiling, of course, IS THAT YOU HAVE TO READ IT. Yes, yes you do. The writing is magnificent, the storytelling made all the trees sacrificed for this, proud. And of course, it renewed my will to continue my life as a reader. Please search for the reason of why the opposite was attacking me beforehand, in this dang whatever this was

As I was saying, the book was astounding, the romance annoyed me at times, but I’m very picky when it comes to that, so I can sincerely say, it was my fault, not the book’s. The Handmaiden Tale aspect was very there, and I positively craved to know the end. It kept me awake, (as in, made me miserable in the morning because who would've thought that I actually need sleep) and made me feel a spectrum of emotions I forgot I was capable of having.

Right, that’s it. The Spoiler-free section has been completed. Now, let’s swim across the expanse of hate, love, adoration, tears, happiness, this story caused previously said missing heart.

Are the ones who haven’t read it, gone? You’re still here? Okay, I’ll wait.

Hi, people who have read this. How are you? Good, I see. Pfft, how am I? Well, *clears throat* I AM ABSOLUTELY FRICKING...

To read more, please visit the Blog Post

-------------------------------------------- Previous Review

How in the hecking, pecking, trekking, ever loving messed up world we ruminate in-

am I supposed to write a review about this.

Profile Image for Karen.
593 reviews1,198 followers
September 16, 2019
What a page turner .. I enjoyed this dystopian novel set in a colony where every year, sixteen year old girls are sent away into the wilderness for their “grace year” its a time where they are forced to live without much food, water, .. and a lot of danger..all due to the belief that at sixteen their bodies emit a powerful aphrodisiac that must be let go of to later return home and be docile and ready to marry.
Yes, there are comparisons to The Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games, I’ve read both of those books and still think this is very original.
I enjoyed it!

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martins Press for the ARC!
Profile Image for Holly  B .
850 reviews2,013 followers
September 23, 2019
I can see why this one is being compared to The Hunger Games.

It has also been compared to some other dystopian novels, but I have only read The Hunger Games.  (which I enjoyed!). There is a wilderness/ fight for your life/ being hunted aspect that is quite terrifying.

This one is YA and focuses on sixteen-year old girls who are banished into the wild to be purified. Insanity, yes.

The world-building is vicious and the worst of human nature comes into play - betrayal, envy, cruel intentions and brutal chaos.

I had a hard time with the darkness of the plot and the characters seemed too artificial for me to connect to any of them.

I do think many will find this more of a page turner than I did. I little over the top for me and slow moving in places. I just never felt invested.

Many others have glowing reviews, so I'd say give it a try if you enjoy dystopian novels with more of a YA feel.

Thanks to NG for my review copy. OUT 10/08/2019

Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews598 followers
June 4, 2019
Reviews on Goodreads are outrageously enthusiastic.
At least the ones I saw.
So when I received a ‘Read Now’, notice from Netgalley - I thought - what the heck ...
Personally- I’m less enthusiastic about this book - than the reviews I’ve read - yet I can understand the book’s appeal.

This is a quick read: A Young Adult dystopian novel. It’s been compared to “Handmaid’s Tale”, and “Lord of The Flies”, and “The Hunger Games”.
Fair assessment.

Sixteen year-old girls spend a year in the forest in order to rid themselves of magic before marriage or entering the work force. Some interesting camp scenes. Obstacles include keeping inner thoughts at bay.
Hard work - rebuilding rain barrels, clearing the trails, weaving rope are less an obstacle than one’s own thoughts.

“All the Women in Garner County have to wear their hair the same way, pulled back from the face, plaited down the back. In doing so, the men believe, the women won’t be able to hide anything from them - a snide expression, a wandering eye, or a flash of magic. White ribbons for the young girls, read for the grace year girls, and black for the wives. Innocence. Blood. Death”.

Tierney is the main character. She is one of five girls born into her family..
the closest to the boy her dad never had. We quickly learn, that Tierney is not a girlie-girl. She’d rather work than be a wife.

Complexities of female relationships are at play....with a message that society will flourish if women band together.

Every woman that I know has experience how cruel other women can be to one another with petty jealousy - envy - cattiness and cruelty.
Women connections can break us to the core -
or they can fill our souls in ways no other type of relationship can.

Teen girls might absolutely love this book. I felt a little old for it - but the author opens up an emotional world showing ways to navigate confusion, anger, empty and guilty feelings - ways to deal with our inner rebel - and the value of women empowering women.

I guess I’d conclude that this book is a combination of the fierce and tender... taking us, the reader, on a daunting journey inviting us to look at the brutalities and beauty for both men and women.

Thank you Netgalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Kim Liggett
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,404 reviews11.7k followers
October 8, 2019
I got from this book what I hadn't from Wilder Girls, namely, wild girls. The Grace Year is a feminist horror that actually delivers on its premise.

Some other reviews have already pitched this novel as a The Handmaid's Tale/Lord of the Flies/The Hunger Games, and they are absolutely correct.

The story is set in a The Handmaid's Tale-like backward unspecified county where men, of course, had made their paradise by, of course, oppressing women in various ways. One of the methods of this complex system of subjugation is the idea that young women, as they approach their maturity at about 16, come into their "magic" which manifests, of course, in their ability to seduce grown men. Thus the girls have to spend their 16th (grace) year on an isolated compound where they will spend their magic, and come out of the experience cleansed and compliant and ready to maintain the status quo of this "paradise."

What happens during the grace year is where the comparison to Lord of the Flies comes in. This is the wild part, and it truly is, only it is much smarter than the wildness of Wilder Girls.

The only hiccup in The Grace Year is the appearance of a major male character in a middle of the story. It changed the tone of the narrative, and his presence felt intrusive, but ultimately I found my peace with his role.

Now for The Hunger Games angle. It's not only that The Grace Year is in many ways a survivalist tale. But it also has the same gripping, unputdownable, tense quality. I get easily bored by books (that's why I DNF so much), but The Grace Year kept me entertained and excited all the way through.

Yes, the elements of The Grace Year are not entirely original, but reading this novel was one hell of a wild ride. Pacing of it was masterful. Unlike many of the YA novels I love, this one has a wide commercial appeal, IMO.

The ending was good, so I am begging for no sequels. PLEASE.

Request it on Netgalley and see for yourself.
Profile Image for Sara.
369 reviews331 followers
September 27, 2020
"The Grace Year is The Handmaid's Tale meets Lord of the Flies" is what sold me on this book and it definitely is an accurate comparison.
I was completely absorbed by this story and its world from the first page and its been a long time since I've been as engrossed as i was in a book.

The basic premise is that girls are banished at sixteen to brave the wilderness - and each other - for a year.
It is completely forbidden to speak of the grace year amongst them so no one (including the reader) has any idea of what to expect.
As you can imagine the characters swiftly become wilder and wilder and chaos ensues.

Tierney was an excellent main character, she wasn't utterly obtuse like many YA leads but she had enough naivety to feel real and believable. Her struggles were well thought out and resolved in a realistic manner too which i really appreciated.

The writing was brilliant, haunting and gritty, and the pacing was some of the best I've seen in the genre. At no point during this read was i bored and i really didn't want it to end.

Cannot recommend this book enough.
Profile Image for Tina Loves To Read.
2,529 reviews1 follower
July 25, 2022
I do not know how to feel about this book. I did not like the beginning of book because I do not think the book show the reader why there was a grace year or what was going on. I also think it was hard to follow the storyline because I think the storyline was confessing and not explain well. The girl/woman was just going a long with everything. That made me mad. The middle of the book started to explain why and what was going on with the grace year. But, by the end I understand what was going on and really started to love the characters in the book. So, I am really not sure where to rate this book. I think the book is worth reading, but I have to say it takes awhile to get into. I won an ARC of this book from an goodreads giveaway, but this is 100% my opinion about the book.
Profile Image for Deanna .
687 reviews12.5k followers
December 29, 2019

My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

3.5 Stars

“No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James doesn't speak of the grace year but she’s spent a lot of time searching for clues. Unfortunately, she still doesn't know what happens when girls are banished from Garner County for an entire year. But she does see the haunted looks and scarred skin of the gaunt and broken looking women who return from their grace year. The ones who survived, but barely.

Tierney and other girls that live in Garner County are told that they have a magic that can make boys and men lose their minds, that their skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, and that their youth drives older women crazy with jealousy. So in their sixteenth year, the girls are banished from Garner County in hopes that they will release their magic into the wild. During the year the girls live together but fend for themselves as they try to survive.

Tierney dreams of a better life, but she must pretend she does not dream. Dreaming is a punishable offense.

What do Tierney's forbidden dreams mean?

Will Tierney survive the grace year? And if she does, what will happen upon her return to Garner County?

This book REALLY got into my head. I couldn't think of anything else. I almost flipped to the end to see what happened. Apparently, this novel has already been optioned to be a major motion picture.

The story is told from Tierney’s point of view. We see what life is like for females in Garner County. They can be accused of anything and punished for the smallest of transgressions.

I don’t usually compare books but if I did, I would have to say that this is like The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies with a bit of Mean Girls.

There is quite a bit of violence in this book with some pretty brutal scenes. It was a bit too morbid for me at times, but I never considered not finishing the book. I HAD to see how it was going to end.

Overall, this was an interesting and engrossing story about cruelty, strength, and survival.

I'd like to thank Wednesday Books for providing me with an advanced copy of this novel. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,416 reviews35.2k followers
October 13, 2019
This book felt like a mash up of Mean Girls, The Handmaid's Tale and Lord of the Flies

Apparently in Garner County, when girls turn sixteen years old, all things go to hell in a hand-basket - well that is unless they are sent away for their Grace Year You see, these girls are full of magic, suddenly at sixteen years of age, a young woman suddenly has the power to lure men, make women jealous by simply coming into their magic. So before they are sent away for their one year to release their magic in the woods, the eligible bachelors choose which female he wants as a wife.(oh, and if you are married and want to become an eligible bachelor - just get rid of your wife- it's that easy). What happens to the young women not chosen to be wives? One must read to find out.

So, off these young women go into the woods to release their magic but wait...there's more. They won’t be alone in the woods. Poachers will be there. What!?! Who are the poachers???? Read to find out!

A year in the woods with those you have grown up with should be somewhat easy right? Wrong. Difficult times are ahead for this group. Who can be trusted? How will they survive a full year? Why are they beginning to act like mean girls on crack? Is their magic real? Is it all in their minds? What is the cause of their strange and threatening behaviors? Who and what are the poachers? Why does not one ever tell these young women what to expect? Who do you trust when you can't even trust yourself?

This was an entertaining read about brutality, trust, relationships, courage, bravery, love, friendship, more brutality, cruelty, banding together, being strong, standing up for each other and small rebellions. This reads like a dystopian fairy tale which checks off the boxes of having a strong female character (Tierney), a love triangle (well sort of), battles, hunting, survival, and bonding between characters. It's atmospheric and chilling at times. I found this to be a fast and engaging read.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press - Wednesday Books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Monica.
538 reviews176 followers
September 23, 2019
I’ve got to admit, I was skeptical when I first saw this book. I thought it was hard to bring something new to the dystopian, fight for your life, young adult story. But this one completely blew me away!

Although often compared to Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies (feminine version, way scarier!), this book managed to include a lot of survivalist details without letting them weigh down the story. Or distract from the characters and the horrific plight the young women faced.

I was surprised by the many twists in the last 25% of the book. By the time the few grace year girls return to the county, they are all changed in one way or another. And Tierney realizes her family has been standing with her all along, in the only way they know how.

I would have enjoyed a neat and happy ending. But that would have made the story more like a fairy tale. And there were hard truths for Tierney to still face. As she realizes all the sacrifices that have been made for her, she finally appreciates her community and sisterhood of women. This realism made The Grace Year all that more powerful! I highly recommend this book!

Many thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Profile Image for Sandra Hoover.
1,221 reviews201 followers
October 20, 2019
Wow! I'm speechless! It's not often a book leaves me that way, but after reading the final page (several times over!) of The Grace Year, I sat in a trance-like state with tears trickling down my cheeks, trying to wrap my head around this story and message. Hoping to sleep on it, I retired for the night only to toss and turn with scenes and characters from the story haunting my dreams. I arose this morning restless - still trying to find a voice for the raw emotion this book evoked in me, but tell me . . . how do you review a book that gutted you? How do I tell fellow readers that while this book may flay you wide open as it did me, read it anyway because a spark of hope will linger, catch flame, and spread like wildfire afterwards? Well, this is me telling you: Read this book! It delivers a powerful message that everyone, most especially girls/women, needs to heed. Together we rise, divided we fall...

I'm not going to spend a lot of time rehashing the plot line of The Grace Year. You'll get the drift from the blurb and other reviews. It's a highly atmospheric, visual read that crawled under my skin and transported me to the isolated camp alongside the grace girls. I felt their anguish, fear, despair, horror, and yes - even the impending madness that descended upon them, seeping into their minds, urging them to give into their primal instincts. In a desperate battle for survival, they hover within the stockade, fearing the horrors that threaten them from beyond - before turning their sights on each other.

Liggett's brilliant rendering of this story creates tension, suspense, and apprehension page by page, scene after scene, and it took root inside me, squeezing my heart and making it difficult to breathe. I had to step away from it briefly about halfway through, catch my breath, let my heart rate return to normal. And then, I picked it back up and burned through the rest of the story until, as I mentioned at the start of this review, I sat speechless.

The Grace Year is raw, graphic, violent, at times horrifying, and yet it's a highly entertaining, compulsive, page-turning story of survival and unity and eternal hope. It's a story that explores the many complex relationships between girls and women of all ages. It's a fantastic, beautifully crafted story that pushed, shoved, and clawed its way to the top of my Favorites List. Read this book!
*With many thanks to Wednesday Books/MacMillan for an arc of this book!
**Reviewed at Cross My Heart Reviews
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,509 reviews29.5k followers
June 22, 2019
3.5 stars.

Kim Liggett's upcoming novel The Grace Year feels like a mashup of The Handmaid's Tale and Lord of the Flies , with a little bit of The Hunger Games mixed in for good measure. Yet at the same time, it's an immensely unique and disturbing story all its own.

"They call us the weaker sex. It's pounded into us every Sunday in church, how everything's Eve's fault for not expelling her magic when she had the chance, but I still can't understand why the girls don't get a say. Sure, there are secret arrangements, whispers in the dark, but why must the boys get to decide everything? As far as I can tell, we all have hearts. We all have brains."

Girls are told that they are dangerous, that they possess the power to lead men into destructive temptation, much as Eve did to Adam. They are led to believe that they have "magic"—that their bodies give off a certain essence when they're on the cusp of their 16th birthday. So all of the 16-year-old girls are sent away for one year, their so-called "grace year," and they're expected to release their magic into the wilderness so they can return purified and ready for marriage if they've been selected, or ready for life as a laborer if not.

Tierney James has always lived her life caring little for convention, not listening to the commands of her mother or the insults of the other women and girls in the community. She's not interested in getting married, in being the property of a man—she looks forward to living a life working in the fields, spending time at one with nature. She's known by many as "Tierney the Terrible" for her wild ways, and no one expects her to be chosen for marriage anyway. But when she is chosen, she is uncertain that she wants that kind of life for herself, although refusing will have grave consequences for her and her family.

The girls are sent into the wilderness and left to fend for themselves. They must deal with the brutal elements, forage for their own food, and avoid the so-called "poachers" that lurk in the woods, who wait for one wrong step so they can kill a girl and sell her essence to the black market. But as the girls begin to form a society of sorts, Tierney realizes it's not the wilderness or the poachers that pose the biggest threat to their survival—it's each other.

"We hurt each other because it's the only way we're permitted to show our anger. When our choices are taken from us, the fire builds within. Sometimes I feel like we might burn down the world to cindery bits, with our love, our rage, and everything in between."

The Grace Year is at turns violent, disturbing, sad, defiant, sexy, romantic, and hopeful. It is a story of young women being made to believe they are dangerous yet deficient, that their only true worth will be recognized if they marry and have children, and that they need to destroy each other in order to secure a happy future for themselves and their families. It is also a story of how much men fear women and seek to control them to overcome those fears.

As outrageous as this story is on many fronts, there are definitely places in which the book is eerily prescient of what is happening in our society today. Liggett did a great job ratcheting up the tension in the book, and creating characters I found myself rooting for, as well as some I was definitely rooting against.

At times, I found the violence in the book to be really disturbing, and after a while, the cruelty of the girls' was very hard to read about. The violence may be a trigger for some, because at times it's fairly graphic. But even when I had difficulty with the book, there was something about the story that I couldn't turn away from.

Reading The Grace Year definitely got me thinking, and I'm certainly thankful that we're not in this kind of situation in our society today. This is one of those books that I won't be able to get out of my mind for a while.

NetGalley and Wednesday Books provided me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!

This book will be published October 8, 2019.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html.

You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Cecilia.
289 reviews291 followers
October 9, 2022
Comencé a leer este libro, si ninguna expectativa, de hecho, ni siquiera leí la sinopsis; y decir que me ha encantado es poco, y creo que se va a ir a una de mis mejores lecturas de año.

La autora nos sumerge en una distopia, en donde la historia comienza con nuestra protagonista Tierney, quien vive en una especia de sociedad ultra conservadora y religiosa; en la cual la única función de la mujer es concebir. Durante el periodo de la adolescencia, específicamente a los 16 años, las mujeres de esta sociedad deben desprenderse de la magia, y para esto son llevadas a una especie de isla, en donde pasaran “un año de gracia”; año tras año, envían a las adolescentes de esa edad a ese lugar a deshacerse de su “magia”, para posteriormente poder casarse o ejercer algún trabajo dentro de la sociedad, si es que ningún hombre las llega a elegir.

Sin embargo, lo que les depara a las adolescentes y a nuestra protagonista es una serie de misterios, peligros, horrores y muertes despiadadas, en donde no todas sobrevivirán. La autora nos muestra qué es lo que pasa al interior de este grupo, cuando se genera una lucha por la sobrevivencia, lejos del exterior, de las comodidades; intentando subsistir con lo poco que tienen.

Es una historia trepidante, que te mantiene expectante con cada giro inesperado que da; y con muchas reflexiones en torno a la empatía, solidaridad y aceptación de las diferencias. La autora lleva tan bien la narración que te hace sentir las más diversas emociones a través de sus páginas, desde la angustia al romance y hasta llegar a escenas bastante tristes.

Por mi hubiese tenido la calificación máxima si no fuera por ese epílogo o final, el que encontré con demasiado contenido en tan pocas páginas, y siento que requería de más desarrollo; se sintió apresurado al leerlo. Sin embargo, es un libro 100% recomendable.
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1,168 reviews37.3k followers
October 19, 2019
4 Stars

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid of Girls when they turn sixteen years-old and come into their magical powers!

It is “The Grace Year” and once it starts, the girls are banished for a year so that once they discover and then can conquer their magic, those that survive can be married off.

The girls are sent away to isolation, where they must learn to fend for themselves and where it’s survival of the fittest and where some have the mentality of kill or be killed. I’d say to run and run fast, but there really isn’t anywhere to go.. at least not anywhere safe.

Sounds a tad bit like both “The Hunger Games” and “The Power” am I right?

Some of the girls are close as can be and then their are the outsiders, the girls who just don’t fit in, girls like Tierney. For her, “The Grace Year” will be almost impossible to survive.

Talk about a thrilling novel! “The Grace Year” was nothing like I expected it to be and yet, it turned out to be oh so much more. I love fiction, science fiction, fantasy and dystopian novels and this novel was kind of a combination of all of those wrapped into a young adult novel that had an adult feel. In a word, it was stupendous!

I read this novel with Kaceey and both of us were highly impressed with how fabulous this novel actually was.

If you’re looking for something altogether different, this is the book for you.

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Kim Liggett for an arc of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Published on NetGalley and Goodreads 10.20.19.
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