‘The Grace Year’

A story about societal norms and feminism.

Photo courtesy of Allan Amato via Kirkus | Kim Liggett, the author of “The Grace Year”

“The Grace Year” was a wild read from start to finish. I couldn’t put it down for two days. This story is all about cults, societal pressures, and one’s own femininity. Much like “The Giver” by Lois Lowry, there are strict rules and beliefs in the secluded town of Garner County. 

In the town of Garner County, the girls that are of the age of sixteen are sent to an island for their grace year. This is due to the belief that women are magical beings, both seductive and manipulative to get their way. Throughout the main character’s grace year, Tierney James, she uncovers many secrets about her family, Garner County, and the grace year itself. 

Kim Liggett takes us on a journey of discovery during Tierney’s grace year. We get a lot of new information through every twist and turn in the book. After getting to the camp that would be their home for the next year, the girls begin establishing order. Tierney also divulges that she doesn’t fully believe that the women of Garner County were truly magical, so she has a hard time reasoning with the other girls who did. This causes a lot of conflict, as they all have different ideas of what the best way to approach things would be and what is actually true. Tierney, having been taught a lot about surviving in the wild, also has a different idea for what would be necessary for survival. 

Tierney, much like the female leads that we all know and love, is very strong-willed. Throughout the entire grace year she doesn’t waver. She fights everyday to survive, and then later fights to dismantle the patriarchy within Garner County.

This story was a very refreshing take on the classic dystopian facist regime that aims to control everything within their grasp. Similar to “The Giver,” “The Grace Year” shows a world where individuality and unlawfulness is not tolerated. Women are viewed as second class, nothing more than a human incubator. It highlights the treatment and oppression of women in today’s world with double standards and gender norms.

I think that this is also a great book to aid the understanding of  the reason behind a lot of people having issues with religion, whether that be because of personal religious trauma or seeing what has been done to others within the churches. During her grace year Tierney learns a lot about Garner County and the people that live there. She has to decide her beliefs for herself after everything that she has been brought up with is revealed to not be the norm outside of Garner County. This is very much like the relationship between people who grew up in a religious upbringing and later leave the organization or religion. 

Overall, I found “The Grace Year” to be a great read that exposes a lot of the real-world issues women are facing and have faced throughout history. From the blatant sexist ideology that was normalized within the community of Garner County to the physical trauma and abuse the women faced, it is not too far from the truth of the world we live in. 

I would give this read a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

4.5/5 star rating