Words cannot express how much I love this book. Never have I read a story that so deeply made me angry, appalled, and just plain desperate to know how this story was going to end. I started this book on a Sunday morning with ten minutes until I had to leave the house. By the time it was time to go, my heart was racing and utterly breaking for a character I had just met and a book I knew nothing about. I devoured Ligget’s work in less than a day, and I regret nothing.
In this village, women are said to have magic (a curse tracing back all the way to Eve in the Garden of Eden) that must be purged from their bodies before they can safely re-enter the community as women (either as wives or as laborers in the fields). To get rid of their magic, girls are sent to live on an encampment for their sixteenth year. No supervision. No protection (apart from the gate surrounding them). No rules. When they return, the girls are considered “pure” and their magic erased.
Speaking of the Grace Year is forbidden, but it’s all Tierney can think about. She’s seen the scars on her mother, the missing fingers on a neighbor woman, and other atrocities she’s expected to ignore walking in the market. Reads will follow Tierney through a horrifying journey, but they will not be left without hope. Despite the weight of her story, Kim Liggett manages to somehow end the book on a hopeful and triumphant note that begs its readers to keep. moving. forward.
p.s. Elizabeth Banks has already announced she’ll be producing and directing the film adaptation!
If you enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale, The Hazel Wood, or Sadie, or if you are passionate about women’s rights and how they have been controlled by men, this is the book for you!
Violence: Because the “Grace Year Girls” are seen as having the highest concentration of magic, “poachers” run a black market that sells relics made from the girls’ bodies. Multiple girls are taken in the woods and are described as being killed slowly so as to get the most magic from them. The girls also attach each other as there minds become foggy during their time in the encampment.
Death: Similar to the way women were tried and killed during the Salem Witch Trials, there are a few instances where women in the community are accused of harboring magic and being executed as a result.
Sexual references are used in describing how the girls are expected to serve their husbands when they return home; however, the descriptions are (in my opinion) done very tastefully and meant to reflect how the girls’ position in their society is shaped often by their perceived virtue/”pureness” rather than simply to add over-the-top steamy scenes between characters.
Recommended Age: 15+ due to violence as well as the complexity surrounding the reality Liggett has created. Younger readers may have a harder time understanding how the women in this community have been controlled and manipulated over time and how this has had a major impact on their psychological state.
Questions you might ask your kiddos:
***Why do you think no one has ever asked to see more proof the the magic they claim is in women? How did they get everyone to believe in this unseen power in women?
***Why would the girls resort to such cruelty amongst themselves on the encampment? Wouldn’t they want to stick together instead of hurt each other? How much of this is due to
***How do you see women/children manipulated in our world?