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Sufficient Grace

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  354 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
One quiet spring day, Gracie Hollaman hears voices in her head that tell her to get in her car and leave her entire life behind -- her home, her husband, her daughter, her very identity. Gracie's subsequent journey releases her genius for painting and effects profound changes in the lives of everyone around her. Ultimately, her quest leads her into the home of Mama Toot an ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published June 5th 2006 by Atria Books (first published May 30th 2006)
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Feb 23, 2008 Georgie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the intertwining of cultures the author creates in this story. Also, going into the schizophrenic mind without harsh judgment. I bought it specifically for this reason as I find the condition to be misunderstood in most every society. The only thing I found this book lacking was a bit more story behind the reunion of Doristeen and her mother, however I really admired Ed's character. It brings readers to know how a spouse is also affected by this illness and the search loved ones ...more
Jo (Bloomin'Chick)
Jan 25, 2008 Jo (Bloomin'Chick) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone and those who love Southern Lit.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I found the book I've been searching for without knowing I was lost without it. A noble and worthy read that may not be for everyone, it is for the philosopher deep within to become enchanted and consumed by. A complex southern tale of food, art, humor, connections, race and insightful thought provoking views into many types of religions, as well as a touch of poetry. It made me really see how complex Schizophrenia is from all angles and look for the miracle in every small wonder and the reason ...more
Sep 09, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Darnell Arnoult's novel SUFFICIENT GRACE is amazing. I loved it! I not only enjoyed the read, but it was interesting how Arnoult wove voice and point of view and Grace's mental illness throughout the novel. I work in the mental health field and Arnoult captured schizophrenia perfectly, which most novelists who write about it do not. She also writes about it with subtleness and intensity at the same time; it is a fact of the character Grace, it drives her and manages her, but it is not heavy hand ...more
Anne Marie Johnson
I'm about 100 pages into it and it's just okay so far. I can't quite put my finger on what I don't like about it.
Rebecca Brothers
Nov 24, 2010 Rebecca Brothers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My latest read has been on my shelf a while. The author of Sufficient Grace, Darnell Arnoult, is a good friend of my mentor, Susan Gregg Gilmore (Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove). I've had this book on my "to read" list for ages, putting it off and putting it off over and over again. The title had me a little blocked: I thought I knew what this book was about and how that tale would be told. I was wrong. Now that I've given it a go I'm so glad that I ...more
I really liked this book and really started to love the characters and the life changes that each were experiencing as a result of Gracie's illness. Sufficient grace is a wonderful title to convey how each person who is touched by Gracie finds there own way to the place where they are able to make sense out of a situation that seems to make no sense. Gracie in her own way moves the people around her onto a new path of life, growing from this experience. Ed finds that he is a person who has many ...more
Dec 22, 2008 Dolly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Southern Lit fans
Recommended to Dolly by: Jo (Bloomin'Chick)
Shelves: 2011
Sufficient Grace is a different kind of Southern Literature. The setting, the people, and the food definitely have a southern feel, but the storyline has a good bit of psychology involved, and this makes this book unique. I also enjoyed the characters and how the author connected them in the story.
May 03, 2009 Rhonda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
In the opening pages of this novel set in the American South, when Gracie Hollaman draws three large murals of Jesus on various walls of her home, we can only guess at what's going on. She seems to be hearing voices. She feels a connection to God. She is menopausal and restless. Then when she cuts up her credit cards and leaves her wedding ring on the marital bed, we realize she is running away. And yes, those voices signal mental illness.

Where Gracie runs to and what happens next is skillfully
Jun 06, 2013 Christy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gracie Hollaman follows the instructions of voices in her head telling her to paint Jesus on three walls of her house, then leaves her wedding ring in the middle of her bed, gets in her car and drives away, leaving behind her husband and daughter to wonder what has become of her. After Gracie crashes her car in a small Southern town, she is taken in by Mama Toot, an elderly black woman, and her widowed daughter-in-law who accept her taciturn behavior and need to paint Jesus on rusty automobile p ...more
Colleen Scidmore
I would rate this about 3.75. I really enjoyed Sufficient Grace once I got a past the first several chapters, it was a little slow in the beginning and I kept putting it down. Once I got past the slow beginning I really started to get into it.
It is about a married woman named Gracie that is in her 50's that up and leaves her husband with no warning because voices in her head are telling her to leave. She leaves with no money, credit cards or checks and leaves behind her wedding ring. And as a p
May 29, 2013 Heath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book at our local Good Will store (a great way to find books you might not find at your local library or book store). This was a pleasant surprise. In the spirit of the Secret Life of Bees, it is kind of a fairy tale where people meet by coincidence and peoples lives are changed by forces that seem a little bit contrived but somehow work. What I loved about this book were the characters. Grace, the title character, has late onset schizophrenia. We don't discover this until close to ...more
May 12, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up in the "new fiction" section at my local library because Kaye Gibbons, who is a favorite author of mine, is a featured reviewer on the back cover. It took me about half the book to get into it and it's unusual that I give a book that much time. In the end, however, it was worth it. I liked the story right away, but it was slow going at first. After the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the book, the characters really came alive for me and their stories had me curious about how they fit t ...more
Sep 09, 2007 Alicia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sufficient Grace is the story of a woman suffering from schizophrenia. When she starts hearing the voice of God she leaves her husband and ends up staying with the African American woman who had taken care of her as a child. Throughout the book her family struggles to come to terms with the new direction their family has taken and adapts to the changes in surprising new ways.

Interestingly enough, this book does not paint a bleak picture of the effects of mental illness on an individual or a fami
Beth Anne
i really felt that this book lacked a lot. it was written well, and the characters were pretty well developed...yet when i got to the last page, i was highly surprised that the story was over.

i felt like...there was so much more story to tell...and the author just, stopped.

i'm not even saying that i need closure, or resolution in a book..but i want something. something more than this one gave me. i know that i will forget about this novel in a week or two...and i don't really think that's a grea
Jun 29, 2009 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While hardly a book you can't put down, it was an interesting look into the results of mental illness on a family. Grace leaves her family early in the book and the impact that has on the lives of her daughter and husband were unexpected. Her husband, a tire store owner, takes up cooking via Food Network and discovers how relaxing cooking can be. Their daughter is horrified by her mother's voices and choices and refuses to embrace her new roll of being understanding and supportive. Meanwhile, an ...more
Mar 31, 2009 Rosemarie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Gracie, who leaves home and her husband of 30+ years after painting Jesus's portraits on 3 walls of their home, cutting up her credit cards, and tossing her wedding band onto their bed. She finds her way to the place she needs to be for healing. The reader learns about her family and the family who shelter her. As she explains to her psychiatrist, stories must complete a circle. Hers is completed, new circles begin, new possibilities exist, the reader finishes the book satisfied. Th ...more
Jun 25, 2015 faith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, favorites
I absolutely adored this book. I randomly decided to pick it up in a used book store because the cover had a pie on it and I was hungry, and I am so glad that I did. Arnoult wrote about schizophrenia beautifully. Her own mother was schizophrenic and I think it really showed in this book. I loved all of the characters, except Ginger was a bit annoying at times in my opinion. This book is one of my favorite reads in 2015 and I love the emphasis on self exploration and doing what you love no matter ...more
Apr 16, 2009 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern
A good read. Great cast of characters deal with a number of life altering issues. Initially, Gracie creates 3 large images of Jesus on some white walls in her home and it just gets a little crazier from there. Surprisingly, for me anyway, I enjoyed the husband, Eds, story more than the other characters. I don't know how realistic it could be, but I enjoyed watching him adapt from obliviously, contentedly married, to husband of missing wife, to husband of wife in mental facility, to obviously con ...more
Caren Nelson
May 06, 2009 Caren Nelson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book. I wasn't sure where it was going to go when it started and so I just got into the well written characters. I especially loved the companionship/relationship of the two Black women. Their strength and work ethic and sense of self were so comforting to read. The descriptions of food were a bonus!
These women have stayed with me even more then the main story has. I felt there was so much more I wanted to learn about them tht the story just wasn't long enough, but it was ve
Mar 24, 2010 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
I had not heard of this book before it being the April read in Southern Lit Lovers. Oh gosh, it was good. The characters were rich with history and delightful personalities. Food is such a strong element in southern books and this one was no exception. I thought the ending was quite weak. I realize the attempt was to bring all the characters to some sort of completeness, but I was a bit disappointed.
Jul 13, 2007 Paddy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Southerners?
Disclaimer: The author is a friend. Doesn't matter, I liked this, her first novel, immensely. She deals w/ some of the same themes in The Secret Life of Bees but more effectively (Disclaimer #2: I did not like Secret Life although somehow I finished it). Darnell presents apt but not disturbing depictions of schizophrenia, lyrical writing, humor, authentic language. The books holds up all the way through.
For being a debut novel, I am pleasantly surprised by the complexity and the handling of the subjects within the storyline. I often wished for more concrete Christian values and yet, I think the author wasn't committed to showing or steering the reader to any way of belief; in reality one's belief or Christian walk (or moving towards that belief) is often at various stages of growth or discovery. A very thoughtful and real story that stretched your imagination.
Jul 04, 2013 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book and I'd love to read more by this author. It shows how loving relationships between normal people provide the best healing for deep psychological scars. It's very hopeful because this is something we can all do for the people in our lives. I would love a friend in my life like Mama Toot. But I can also aspire to be like her for the people my life touches. She is not educated but has deep, true wisdom.
Connie Gunderson
I wasn't wild about this one. Almost none of the characters were likeable and much of the action was unbelievable. 5 stars, though, for the way the author disspelled the many ridiculous but widely-held beliefs about mental illnesses, especially schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, neither of which has anything whatsoever to do with "split personality". The writing was decent, and I definitely wanted to hang around to see how it all ended, but I just found it kind of dark and a downer.
Suzy Black
Jun 24, 2009 Suzy Black rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of an adult woman who has "always been a little different" and is diagnosed with schizophrenia. She paints 3 7-foot Jesus in her home and leaves without telling anyone where she has gone. The story follows her, the family who takes her in, and the family she has left. I loved this book - laughed out - listened to Gracie's "voices" - and empathized with all involved - the book does a great job describing schizophrenic symptoms, all tempered with lots of humor.
This is an amazing first novel for Darnell Arnoult. I am reminded of "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. The characters are well developed and live long after reading the last page. Set in the south, this tale is a story of love and redemption and ties that bind family as one member sinks into mental illness. Beautifully written.
Apr 29, 2010 joanna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was really disappointed with this book and struggled to finish. None of the characters were likable (except maybe Toot). The story felt disjointed and never really came together for me. I was hoping it was like The Secret Life of Bees, but I saw only one parallel.
Mar 17, 2010 Maren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed being in the South again through this book, and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would when I started it. It gave an interesting perspective on schizophrenia, and there were several very wise and insightful tidbits about relationships that I will look up later so I don't forget them....
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Darnell Arnoult is the prize-winning author of What Travels With Us: Poems (LSU Press) and the novel Sufficient Grace (Free Press). Her shorter works have appeared in a variety of journals. Arnoult holds an MFA from University of Memphis and MA from NC State, and is a regular faculty member of the Duke Writers Workshop, Tennessee Young Writers Workshop, John C. Campbell Folk School, and Learning E ...more
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