Grace by Elizabeth Scott
Published by Dutton Children’s, an imprint of Penguin
Grace is living in a world similar to ours but either in the future or in an imagined alternate place, in which she is an Angel, trained by the People to be a suicide bomber for their cause of fighting against the totalitarian regime of the current leader. At the exact moment of Grace’s supposed purpose in life, just when she is supposed to detonate the bombs that cover her body, she decides to flee the country and escape from the life she’s always known. This story is told in flashbacks as Grace along with another boy attempt to run away on a train toward the border and possible freedom.
Elizabeth Scott has done it again. What amazes me about her is that she writes hugely different books – both YA romances and also much more serious books like this one and Living Dead Girl – but no matter what the topics of her books are, they are always excellent. Her writing flows beautifully and her stories spill across the page in a way that makes it impossible for me to put her books down. I can’t possibly give a better compliment than that.
Grace is a short novel, but it’s an incredibly powerful one. The writing is stark and left me sort of breathless, as I couldn’t believe the kinds of things Grace was experiencing and living through. Elizabeth Scott lays it all out there, this one girl’s entirely sad and depressing life, in a way that made me believe it completely. Grace as a character was honest, raw, and incredibly realistic – her situation may not have been all that realistic, but the way she reacted to it was. She was in this insanely abnormal situation but still thought about things just like any other teenager would. It was chilling.
If I have one complaint about this novel it is that the world Grace lives in was not fleshed out enough for me. I wanted more – more information, more background, more knowledge about how the People came to be, how the totalitarian regime took power, what life was really like there, etc. I understand that’s not where Scott was going with the book, but for me personally I would have loved to know more about this world she created.
Grace is an absolutely breathtaking novel, one that will leave you heartbroken but ultimately illustrates the power of going your own way, of making your own decisions in the midst of having no real choice about anything. I have yet to dislike anything Elizabeth Scott has written and I believe I will attempt to read her entire backlist – her writing is just beyond.