TITLE: The Grace Year
AUTHOR: Kim Liggett
"No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.
In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.
Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.
With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between."
I enjoyed this book and it was a fast read, but something was off. Maybe it was the incomplete world building (we never find out how they end up in this situation and there are fast jumps in time where we never find out what happened), or the limited character development and flat secondary characters, or the romance (I didn't find it convincing) or the fact that there is no way this little society can survive with this many woman disappearing from the gene pool in one way or another on an annual basis (unless they breed like rabbits and no one dies from anything else like child birth or disease). Some of the emotions were intense, the writing was evocative, and the cult-like aspect of what's going on is not that far off from what sometimes happens in real life. I loved the flower language - I haven't come across that in decades. The story concept was interesting, but the execution fell a bit flat. I suspect this will be more to the liking of the teenage girl market than it was to me.