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Parents' Guide to

The Grace Year

By Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Dystopian tale is harrowing, haunting, lyrical.

The Grace Year Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 18+

I read The Grace Year faster than any book in years but I can't recommend it!

I can think of a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t read The Grace Year by Kim Liggett… if you are easily triggered by trauma, if you are really tired of dystopian societies while living in a pandemic world, if you are an easily threatened male, if you like a bunch of happy endings But most of all…the violence. If you believe that young people should be given the freedom to read almost whatever they want including dark and deeply disturbing books then is there any book that is just too much? Is there any book that crosses the line? Is there a line? Clearly there is a line but where is it? Does the line involve “skinning beautiful young girls alive?” “Having them in as much pain as possible because it makes their blood better?” Yes, I think the line for violence against women is drawn somewhere around there and The Grace Year crosses the line. I read The Grace Year by Kim Liggett faster than any book I’ve read in years. I think I read it in three days but I can’t recommend The Grace Year. I can’t recommend it for the same reason that I don’t ever recommend reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy I CAN’T GET THE IMAGES OUT OF MY HEAD… EVER! If you are a person that can stomach horrific things, things so traumatizing that just the memory of reading about them (or in the case of The Road by Cormac McCarthy also watching them in the movie version) causes severe mental grief, then have at The Road and have at The Grace Year. But I think in these times when young people are more anxious then ever (with good reason), when mental health is so at the forefront, and when we are made to doubt our very eyes and ears by assaults on truth then a book that crosses the horrific line is not a book I want to recommend to a wide number of teens. The Grace Year is a page turner. If you like dystopian novels than this is definitely in your wheelhouse. From the first chapter you are immersed in a combination of some of the best dysfunctional worlds in past and present history: The Crucible, The Hunger Games, The Lord of The Flies and The Lottery are all clear influences. For example, the Salem Witch Trial story of The Crucible is summoned with teen girls flying, older men leering and witches being burned alive. The Hunger Games is present in a fateful selection scene think the worst game of school yard captains picking sides combined with the high stakes of being married and considered property of a person you hate, and don’t forget Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery where a town has no idea how a yearly stoning sacrifice started but feels the need to carry out without questions asked. As the Grace Year progresses we learn that in order for the wealthy and lucky (snicker) townspeople to carry on their way of life all girls that are 16 must be subject to banishment, sound somewhat familiar to our current situation? The girls are banished as a group and are taken to an island fortress. Once again, a dystopian novel explores an “inside group” and the fear of what lies outside al la The Maze Runner and dozens of other inside safety /outside danger books. The premise is that these girls come into amazingly powerful magic during their 16th year. This magic must be bleed out of them painfully, as painfully as possible! Who is applying the most pain? Is it the poachers who do the skinning, is it the townspeople that practice a bizarre form of cannibalism eating parts of young girls to make them potent, or are the girls themselves the worst… ordering rituals that only the strongest leader among them can decide? There is a lot to be terrified of in The Grace Year and when we find out that the well is poisoned to intentionally make the young girls go insane we realize that we have met the enemy and “he is us.” Did Ms. Liggett really need to have the girls be “skinned alive” with hours of painful screaming in death? Did she need girls controlling other girls so completely that they would cut off their own fingers, ears and toes? All these things and more await you when you read The Grace Year. Try not to read it in less than three days. I really suggest that you don’t.
age 15+
I loved this book so much!!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (10 ):

Haunting, harrowing, timely, timeless, this richly detailed dystopian thriller isn't easy to read, but it's impossible to put down. Author Kim Liggett's prose pulls you immediately into a world you don't fully understand yet, and she pulls so beautifully that you just have to follow even as you're not sure you want to understand. It doesn't take long before vivid pictures of the people in The Grace Year and their world form in your mind while building suspense and dread keep the pages turning. Through narrator Tierney's authentic voice, you witness brutality and fear, taste freedom as you fight for your life, and dream that the world really can be a place you actually want to live.

Mature themes about womanhood, community, oppression, gender roles ,and relationships, and so much more make it a great choice for a book club, or to read along with your mature teens who can handle the violence and are ready to take on larger-world issues.

Book Details

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