In the year they turn sixteen, the girls of Garner County are sent on their ‘Grace Year’ away from the isolated village they live in. During this time they are expected to burn through their ‘magic’, something that each woman possesses and, unless they rid themselves of it, will use against men.
Before they go, there is the veiling ceremony. Girls are chosen, using a veil, to become brides on their return from the Grace Year. The catch? They don’t know how the veil is from until the following morning as they leave. It isn’t a love match: it’s more like becoming property. Other than her best friend Michael who’s promised to Kiersten, Tierney has put off every man available to her. She isn’t interested in being a bride – she’d rather work the fields and have more freedom.
During the veiling ceremony, Tierney is shocked when she is presented with one. Who would have decided to marry her? She’s the wild card of the year and there is visible surprise from more than one of the Grace Year girls. The next morning, she discovers her fate.
So much is already uncertain, yet it is forbidden for girls to speak of the Grace Year once they return as women, so despite the whispering there isn’t much they know of their fate before they return…except that some girls don’t return at all.
The Grace Year was a book I hadn’t heard of before being recommended it from the Mr B’s Emporium Recommendation Station (https://mrbsemporium.com – honestly, I’ve not been disappointed with a single one of the 8 books they’ve sent me so far!) but it sounded exactly the sort of thing I enjoy.
This has a Hunger Games-eque feel to it. I honestly found the book so hard to put down! With feminist tones underlying the entire story, it tackles old – and let’s be honest, sometimes still current – views of women and how they are seen by both society and men. They were woven well into the story which made it feel authentic, rather than being forced into the book.
The ‘Grace Year’ was a really exciting concept which led to fast-paced action throughout the book. The concept of the girls being sent to an outlying island encampment and work together to complete the year sounds as though it would be simple; naturally this is not the case. The girls have to expel their magic, develop a hierarchy, use survival skills they have never been allowed to learn as well as develop friendships and learn who to trust.
Tierney in particular is a strong lead character and I enjoyed following her story; she is feisty yet caring, strong yet learns to understand when she is vulnerable and shows empathy and understanding of girls in situations different to her own. Her decisions through the story impact not only on herself, but also the people around her which she has to deal with.
This is definitely one of my top reads of the year so far!
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