The Grace Year brings me back to my dystopian vibes. It’s a story that promises a society where women are oppressed and thrown, each year, into the unknown to rid themselves of their magic. But it’s also a story of perseverance, love, and rebellion.
No one speaks of the grace year.
We’re told we have the power to lure grown men from their beds, make boys lose their minds, and drive the wives mad with jealousy. That’s why we’re banished for our sixteenth year, to release our magic into the wild before we’re allowed to return to civilization.
But I don’t feel powerful.
I don’t feel magical.
Tierney James lives in an isolated village where girls are banished at sixteen to the northern forest to brave the wilderness – and each other – for a year. They must rid themselves of their dangerous magic before returning purified and ready to marry – if they’re lucky.
It is forbidden to speak of the grace year, but even so every girl knows that the coming year will change them – if they survive it…
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
It’s been a while since I’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale – which is one of the comparative titles for The Grace Year – but it has that same theme of women’s oppression. There are dark secrets hidden behind closed doors and in lingering glances. It’s a deeply repressive culture for women, where they are punished without proof and hurt without mercy. But we actually spend more time outside of the village, in the wild of the Grace Year. The mysterious year which returns girls scarred, hollow, and forever changed propels the beginning of the book.
It’s a book that both terrifies and celebrates. While you cannot argue that the setting isn’t terrifying for women – a village where the accusation of witchcraft means certain death – there are also moments where we remember the power of love and friendship. The little acts of resistance, the influence of knowledge (both good and bad), and the way we must think for ourselves.
The Grace Year is an action packed plot that not only delivers high stakes and eerie danger, but also love and tenderness. You can get swept away in the plot and Tierney’s quest for survival in such an oppressive culture and during the Grace Year. However, at the same time, it’s a story that asks important questions about the truth and belief. Playing with the power of belief to make real, The Grace Year examines the very fabric of what we believe. What we are taught to be the truth.
Danger is lurking in plain sight with hidden faces and are much more dangerous than the enemies you can recognize. When we hurt each other because there’s no other outlet for our love and our rage. The Grace Year is a book that speaks in the language of flowers. A book that presents us with moments of fear, doubt, and sadness, but which are balanced with sparks of joy, hope, and courage.