A speculative thriller in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power. Optioned by Universal and Elizabeth Banks to be a major motion picture!
SURVIVE THE YEAR.
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.
I started this book. Found it too slow after some pages and abandoned it for a few weeks. Afterwards, I started seeing it mentioned all over the Internet as one of the best new stories you could put your hands on. Got back to it and… couldn’t stop until the ending. At 6AM… Daaaamn, what I was about to miss if I didn’t give it a second chance!
I honestly thought that I’ve read so many Young Adult dystopian novels for the last few years that there’s no chance of any new book of this type to still surprise me or get me hooked up. That’s pretty much what I had in mind when I started The Grace Year and the slow paced beginning didn’t really encourage me to change my opinion. I’m so grateful that I trusted those articles saying that you shouldn’t miss this book!
Slowly, the classical story of the rebellious girl who opposes the traditional and over controlling society starts to grow new and surprising threads and lets you uncover hidden meanings. Perhaps the storyline doesn’t differ so much from other books of this kind. But there’s so much more depth between the pages, so much freedom to choose whatever you wish to understand from it, so much pain and hope and happiness and destruction, all of them entwined together, all of them starting to gradually flow through your blood stream. Moreover, the most important and impressive fights are not the ones with other people or with the horrific system, but the internal ones, with your own beliefs, with everything that you grew up to have faith in and that is slowly shattering behind your eyes.
“Your eyes are wide open, but you see nothing.” This is what the story is about. About getting out of your comfort zone, opening your mind and seeing the verity against all odds, letting go of all the pride and certainty that what you know is what the truth really is. Because that’s the hardest fight you could ever win and some of us never do.
The book is violent and bitter, with small moments of hope that sparkle like lost fireflies in the darkest night. Even the ending, although you might call it a somewhat happy ending, is not bringing any miraculous changes. But it does leave traces of hope: of a better life, of a better society, of hidden kindness that lies within the people you wouldn’t expect and in the most unforeseen places. And sometimes, this is the best we can do and the most realistic aspiration that humanity could have.