Reinberger Review: “The Grace Year”

The Grace Year

Liggett, Kim. (2019). The Grace Year. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Publishing Group. 408 pages.

Audience – Grades 9+

Review by:

Kayla Hlad (she/her)

MLIS Student, Kent State University iSchool

Kim Liggett’s novel begins in Garner county as Tierny prepares for her Grace Year. In this dystopia, when girls turn sixteen-years-old they are forced to spend a year fenced off in the wilderness as they work off their “magic” which otherwise can be used against men. One step outside of the fence and poachers will pounce, carving their bodies for elixirs. But as the readers discover, there’s more than one danger in The Grace Year.

Kim Liggett absolutely nailed the genres of survival and dystopia and, understandably, The Grace Year has already become a hit among teens. Although many summarize it as a teen-friendly Handmaid’s Tale, it’s truly a unique experience. Kim Liggett is a highly-skilled writer who uses detailed characterization through action, changing tones of mystery, fear, and empowerment, and beautifully crafted imagery to create a thrilling page-turner. Her social commentary tackles issues that are important to teens while leaving them with a sense of empowerment and hope. The frequent plot twists keep the reader constantly on their toes, while the detailed world-building stabilizes the narrative. Its unpredictable plot, strong female lead, well-balanced world-building, and timely themes of oppression, the power of belief, feminism, and social change landed it on YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten list (2020) and make it a truly unforgettable read. 

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