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Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom.
In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate.
"The nature of survival is exquisitely explored here, as Grace and her traveling companion find both horror and rationalization in sharing the stories of the atrocities they have each committed, and had committed against them, even as they desperately want to continue living. The idea of a fleeting, perfect blue sky being all one could need to suddenly decide that breathing is better than not is a stunning moment on which to base this novel, and it works even while readers will ultimately see how Grace, intelligent and independent though raised to be neither, was always destined for something other than death for a cause not her own. The fact that the reader will likely come away entirely uncertain which of the horrible paths faced by seemingly every single character in this novel would even be worth pursuing is a brilliantly stark outcome for a plot that repeatedly emphasizes that any life at all is always preferable." -- The Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books, Recommended Title
"In a hellish country ruled by megalomaniac Keran Berj, Grace has been raised by the People, a freedom-fighting sect dedicated to the overthrow of Keran Berj, to be an Angel. Like the rest of the girls in Angel House, Grace trained for the sacred day when she would strap on a bomb in front of a political target and blow herself up. But Grace has never truly felt like a child of the People, and when the moment of truth comes, she chooses not to die--though she still sets off her bomb in the village square. Now she's on the run from her own people and from Keran Berj's. This brief, atmospheric novella follows Grace's train journey to the border of Keran Berj's country. Accompanied by the strange boy Kerr, Grace contemplates her own past, that of her homeland and the choices that led her to this moment. Moody and compelling, without the easy moralizing so common in dystopian settings." --Kirkus
"This is a terse, tight, powerful book that's heavy on atmosphere...Scott's writing shines as Grace questions whether purposely killing people is ever right, even if it is done in the name of freedom. Give this novel to fans of dystopias who want darker visions than Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games." -- School Library Journal
"Beautifully written and undeniably jarring...an emotional mediation on a timely topic." -- Publishers Weekly
"If Living Dead Girl rocked people's perceptions of Elizabeth Scott's writing, then Grace will blow them up. It is different from anything else that she has published and demonstrates amazing growth and diversity as an author. Tense and political. Terse and exact. Scott sketches an image of a world where you are what you are told you will be. A life without choices and many sacrifices. A life without colour, without beauty, without connection and it is exceedingly grim. A minimal piece of writing, the reader's mind in constantly whirling as it processes new information and the actions of our protagonist and Kerr.
YA can often be put into two categories - amazing premise and expertly realised. Sometimes there is crossover but not usually. Grace walks that line like an acrobat as it quietly, subtlety, makes its way forward navigating fear, determination and ultimately hope. Grace presents a reality where society is fractured into those that blindly (and fearfully) follow Keran Berj and those that oppose his rule, those of The Hills. A world of tyranny, violence, suppression and fear where being an Angel is a great honour. An honour that Grace can't see through entirely so she runs. And this is where the story begins.
Grace isn't flashy. It is not glitzy or dimple cheeked. It is deliciously barren. A small novel, it's short chapters and at times even shorter sentences convey the trapped quality of this world and the tethers that bind. It is novels like Grace that challenge the notion that YA is fluff. There's no fluff here, only heat and oppression. Sparse, resolute and political, Scott has explored the notion of power, identity and sacrifice in a way that leaves you quiet. It creeps up on you. It is the study of a girl who straddles two world and is wanted by neither. In choosing herself, she chooses to fight for her freedom.
A beautifully realised introspective novel about life, death and the choices we make in between. The insular first person narration and few characters focus the story intently on the train ride and the steps that brought Grace and Kerr to that point. Revelations unwind like a slight breeze and wash over you as they may (or may not) get closer to escape. A wonderful and vastly different addition to the Elizabeth Scott collection and young adult literature.
A thought provoking exploration of the power of one." -- Persnickety Snark
"Although it's never quite clear where this is set in another world or in ours, the parallels Scott strives for are patently evident. Grace was raised by the People to become an Angel, a girl whose single purpose in life is to strap on a bomb and blow up a leader of Keran Berj's society. When Grace balks at the last moment and disgracefully survives, she attempts to flee the country along with another obviously haunted boy. The book takes place, with flashbacks, on the grueling train ride to the border, as the two evade the suspicions of guards and tentatively draw out each other's shameful secrets. In all, it's a fairly one-note affair: chose life, however hard, over an idealistic death, but the terse writing effectively portrays Grace's harrowing inner turmoil as it speaks to the part of the psyche the wonders how a person could willingly become a walking bomb." -- Booklist
"Grace is a stunning book that proves to me that Elizabeth Scott can write anything! Grace is a dystopian book that doesn't feel like a dystopian. It's a raw and powerful read that is chilling because readers can see the events easily unfolding today. Grace comes from a society that is blindly following Keran Berj and is part of a group that opposes his rule. Keran Berj's rule is frighteningly familiar and terrifying. Just look at history to see how a ruler like this could take over and it's easy to believe in Grace's tale.
The reader is thrown right into the story of Grace's escape. We are not given a background to understand what's happening, we're thrown right in and at first this is a little jarring. But I love this because it's up to the reader to figure out what's happening instead of being told the entire story upfront. Events unfold and we're given new details slowly throughout the novel-the plot unfolds in subtle layers and it's something as a reader you want to savor. There are moments when we come to a realization or discover something the same time Grace does-and I love those moments when reading! There are also moments that made me gasp in shock and surprise-I truly felt like I was there with Grace and going through everything with her.
Grace is different from other dystopian novels that I've read in that this one is not action packed and full of adventure. This is a quieter sort of dystopian that's more pensive-Grace is on the train thinking about her actions and the choices she's made and the outcome and path before her because of these choices. Grace is a look at one person's choices and how much power just one person can have, even if they don't realize it. The ending is something I can't wait to discuss with my teens because I'm curious to see if they view it differently than I do. Grace screams to be discussed-with other readers, in book clubs, in schools. Make sure you read this one with someone so you can talk about it after.
Grace is an amazing addition to the young adult dystopian fare and will stay with you long after you read it. I read this one a month ago and my thoughts are still haunted by Grace's story. A must read release for 2010!" -- Green Bean Teen Queen
"Grace. There's so much to say, yet I don't think I could ever say enough to justify how amazing and powerful this one book is. It's disturbing, heartbreaking, and yet so beautifully written and eye-opening, you can't help but get caught up in this dystopian tale of life and death and what makes you choose which will be your path in the end.
From the first page, you are transported into Grace's world, a world of chaos and a sick leader controlling it all. Grace is an Angel; though don't let the title make you think she's a heavenly being. You see, an Angel is a suicide bomber used to kill government officials and show that those people won't be in power forever, but Grace took a different root; she escapes, not dying and completing the cause. So now she's on the run with the mysterious Kerr, someone who may have just as much to loose as her, someone who may understand her even though they're far from being the same person.
In Grace's world, she would be viewed as a coward, but to me I viewed her as being an extremely brave and daring person, someone who goes well past the limit on the road not taken to get to the world she wants and knows is best for her. Kerr, oh the mysterious Kerr, is someone who constantly introduced new things that made me, as well as Grace's character, re-think everything I had thought about their world and see new parts that I hadn't seen and understood fully before.
The premise of this was something fresh, and I have to say I don't think I've ever read or heard about anything just like Grace. The execution of the premise was even better, because it constantly had me on the edge of my seat dying to know what big revelation would be revealed next to make me re-think my thoughts on the characters and world they lived in. Also, I liked the discussion this novel held about life and death and everything in between. It was interesting and part of the reason why I'm still thinking of this novel days after reading it.
And this review wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention Scott's fantastic writing at least once, so... Elizabeth Scott is an excellent writer, one that never fails to show her tremendous wealth as a storyteller through the range of different topics she chooses that never fail to be well delivered. She's a writer I admire greatly, one I can't help but want to read more by as soon as possible.
Out of all the fabulous 2010 books this year, Grace is the one you should definitely pick up no matter what. It's fantastic, disturbing, and eye-opening- a book I'm still thinking about days after reading it. Overall, this is one of the best of the year; no doubt about it." -- Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf
"Grace almost left me speechless. Elizabeth Scott continues to amaze me. The author that makes me giddy with her teen romances leaves me haunted by such books as Grace and Living Dead Girl. (It's not that her romances lack substance or full characterization. All her characters feel human. And all her characters seem to be struggling with something.)
What is Grace about? Well this dystopian set in the near future stars Grace a girl who was "raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb." But Grace realizes--at the last moment--that this is not what she wants. And perhaps for the first time, she realizes that what she wants does matter.
She doesn't want to die for the cause. She's not even sure she believes in the cause anymore. (If she ever did.) She wants to live. But living life might be tricky because first she'll have to escape her old life.
Grace, when we first meet her, is on the run for her life. She's hoping and praying that she can escape. She's on a train heading for what could be her only chance for freedom, for a new life. But she's not traveling alone. She's traveling with a young man she's never met. A man she doesn't know if she can trust. As these two share their stories, share their pasts, quite a story unfolds.
Grace is a compelling read. I just couldn't put it down! It's a thought-provoking read too. I liked the way this one was told. How as Grace makes this journey to freedom, readers learn her back story bit by bit. We learn about the circumstances--political and social--that led her to where she is. I liked how Grace is challenged along the way to think and rethink her beliefs, her ethics.
I would definitely recommend this one." -- Becky's Book Reviews
"Elizabeth Scott is one of the few authors who could make me read a book about a suicide bomber. And, more, look forward to the experience.
I'm not sure what I was expecting when I opened the cover. It certainly wasn't what I got.
Grace is a morally ambiguous character. As is her traveling companion Kerr. I thought the lines would be more clear cut. That is would be white and black, good and bad, hero and tyrant. It isn't. Both sides in Grace commit terrible acts and believe their acts are justified because they are at war...
Grace is a quiet book. There are no car chases, no explosions, and no countdowns to diffuse the bomb. And yet the book is tense. We travel with Grace and Kerr towards the border on a train that might be stopped at any moment. The soldiers on board have complete control and can treat the passengers as they wish. I wanted so badly for them to make it, for them both to be free.
As Grace's story unfolds, in flashbacks, and as she learns more about Kerr, and his desperation to start a new life, her view of the world changes. She begins to question things she has done and things she believes.
This is a brave, honest and disturbing look at what happens when children are brought up to be afraid; brought up to think that others are less worthy; brought up to think that the only way to create change is through destruction. It forces you to not judge but to really think, to feel sympathy for characters who do terrible things.
Grace is marketed as a a dystopian novel, but it really isn't. Although the setting is not recognizable and the names give no clue as to what country we might be in, the world in this book is not some horrific future. It can be found in the past and it can be seen in the present. This isn't a world we can prevent: it's one we're living in. That is what makes Grace such a haunting and uncomfortable read. It would make a great book club pick. Although I kept wanting to take a break while reading, I already want to read it again. And I really want to talk about it too." -- Not Enough Bookshelves
"Elizabeth Scott's latest novel is haunting and horrific, and yet despite how foreign Grace's situation seems, readers will be able to find elements of our own world in this novel: the terrorism, dictatorships, the suicide bombers, and the conviction that people have for their beliefs, no matter how erroneous they may be. Though the first couple of chapters are a bit vague, the pieces quickly fall into place and Grace's life becomes clearer as the book moves quickly forward, bouncing back and forth between her past and training for her death, and Grace's time spent on the train fleeing. Though her escape seems clearly defined and straightforward, Scott does throw in a few unexpected twists to keep you on your toes and always wondering who can be trusted.
Despite the terrible and shocking nature of Grace and Kerr's world, Grace is a beautiful story of how two different people from two very different backgrounds learn to see each other for who they really are and are able to look past the stereotypes of their pasts and people to come together and find a common goal: discovering the purpose of life, achieving freedom, redemption, and ultimately, grace.
This is by far Scott's most powerful and galvanizing book yet, proving her to be a flexible and exceedingly talented writer. Grace is a book that demands to be devoured in one sitting, but read time and time again."-- The Compulsive Reader
"I never thought I would pick up a YA book about a suicide bomber and devour it in one sitting. Elizabeth Scott has crafted an incredibly original novel about a young girl born in to the type of ideological war that engulfs so much of the world and makes her story relatable, moving and downright brilliant.
Grace is on a train with a stranger, Kerr, both hiding in plain sight as they try to get to the border and escape their death-filled lives. As the plot moves forward, Scott peels back layer after layer of their pasts and how they have been intertwined for years.
Scott's writing is minimal and poetic, revealing only the exact details that somehow form the big pictures. This is a piece of art where the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.
Grace is engaging and moving enough to be read for pleasure but also smart and insightful enough that I can see it being read in both history and English classes. It has genuine insight in to an all-to-relevant world and an ending that will leave you both hopeful and haunted." -- Kiss My Book
I had an inkling that Elizabeth Scott's newest book was going to be un-put-down-able, and man, did that turn to be true. I read the book in one sitting because I just couldn't put it down (and I was tired, so this is saying something!).
It's set in a speculative world, but Ms. Scott brings the reader so far into that world that it could be any world. It could very well be places in our world. The story concentrates on Grace's decision to abandon her People, on her flight to the border, to safety. It's a whirlwind trip and the novel twists back and forth, giving the reader snapshots of Grace's childhood, her Angel training, her mission, and the extreme violence that is commonplace to Grace.
This book is just absolutely compelling. It'll definitely spark interesting discussions and give teens a unique perspective.
Oh, and I need to take a moment and appreciate that stunning cover. It's so very eye-catching and absolutely true to the book. I love that it uses a photo of a face (so popular these days) in a totally new way. Also, the eyes are really haunting. This is a cover that's going to catch someone's eye from across the bookstore." -- Abby (the) Librarian
"After finishing this book, I really had no idea what to say. What could I say? The entire novel takes place on a train where only small events take place. The majority of the novel and action takes place through memories, thoughts, which I wasn't sure I liked. I do believe this sort of back and forth between present day and the past (non-linear) is called modernist writing, and I loved how Elizabeth Scott took on this new way of writing I have yet to see in YA before.
The intensity of the book is only further brought out by Elizabeth Scott's stark writing. Rather than give you a paragraph on how the train smells, she tells you in a single word that captures everything. Simply beautiful, is all I can say for the writing.
As for the characters, I feel as though they were developed more here than in her other books. Grace and Kerr grew as characters through the novel, though time didn't pass. How could this be, you ask. How can an author develop characters without passing much time? The simple answer: I don't know, but Elizabeth Scott does it wonderfully.
And that's the thing about Grace. I'm still mind blown as to how anything happened. They sat on a train for nearly the entire book yet so much happened! I can't describe this frustration (though perhaps that's not the right word for what I'm feeling because frustration carries a negative connotation and this is by far not negative) at not being able to figure out how she does what she does, but she does and that's what matters.
See, even here you can see how completely mind blown I am. I can't even write a regular review. I'm still tossing over the ideas in my head despite it being so long since I read the book. I can't fathom everything completely yet. I can't understand everything that happened, but this future world with character was developed and I fell in love, sucked into the book.
From page one, Elizabeth Scott sucks you in and refuses to let you go. She pounds words down your throat that you don't know the meaning of, and flashes various scenarios in front of your eyes that you don't understand but feel the gravity of, and you're trapped. Completely and utterly trapped. The only way out is to finish the book, and you will finish it breathless. -- The Lovely Reader
"I don't know how to explain Grace in just a few words. It is one of those rare books that captures your attention from the first word. You are thrown into a world that seems really realistic and full of fear that seems foreign to you. I could see this dystopian story happening at some point in the near future, if we make the wrong choices in how we handled things.
Another thing that I admire about this book is that it discussed religion and politics in a way that I have never seen in Young Adult fiction. Grace is set in an extremely oppressive government, where there are no real choices, except the way that you will die. The faith that Grace had in her will to live with her own freedom was admirable. This book made me admire people that are oppressed, more then I ever had, because it was pure honesty in Grace's eyes of the danger that is in your thoughts with each second that passes.
The way that Scott wrote in short sentences and chapters shows the limits in Grace's choices and the desperation that is in each although her mind. Grace is strong character that has faced things that are imaginable to me. Kerr was an interesting character that I admired, after his mystery unraveled. I like that they began to understand each other and found some sort of medium. I found Grace's flashbacks to be compelling and cleverly written. The plot was fast and kept me thinking and anticipating the next thing to happen. I did not want to put this book down, because each word made me want more, even long after the book was over. --Sarah's Random Musings
"Grace wasn't sugar coated or fluffed as it describes a world where absolutely no one would dream to be. Elizabeth Scott's novels are all fantastic, and she definitely knows how to write several YA themes including romance, friendship, dystopian, kidnapping, and many more. Grace is the most compelling and thought-provoking YA novel of the year and will leave you craving to know if they will escape, and it's up to you at the end to decide what happened to them. I loved Grace because I had no idea what to expect and was satisfied behind belief by Grace's unexpected, powerful story. The cover is absolutely beautiful and is the perfect cover for such an amazing book! You will not be disappointing by Grace, so it's a no brainier that it is a must read and highly recommended."-- An Addicted Book Reader
"WOW. Just, wow. Elizabeth never ceases to amaze me. Part of me thought I might not like this one because it's about suicide bombing. The other half of me thought, it's a book by Elizabeth Scott, how could it not be good?
If you guys couldn't tell by now, it was the latter. This book is so different from any other YA novel. It pulls you in, it makes you wonder, it makes you feel. The fictional "country" is maddening. How could anybody let a man like Keran Berj rule? How could The People do the same, but still think Keran is worse? And Grace, poor Grace -- I am so proud of her. She is so brave. She gives us some insight I think everyone could use, really.
This story was not what I was expecting. I didn't know what to expect, actually, but this was not it. Elizabeth has definitely done it again and I don't know how. She always pulls off writing a masterpiece, and for that, I thank her. Make sure you guys pick this one up when it's released! Or pre-order! Just make sure you get it in your hands. -- The Truth About Books
"Grace is such a brilliantly written book. It's not a chick lit, nor a paranormal book. It's a YA book about choices. Grace has been raised to be an Angel of Death and now she's questioning everything she's been raised to believe. In a society were women do what they are told, you don't question why. You do what you're told. Now Grace must choose to fulfill what she's been told will be an honor or she must flee and choose life, and find freedom, fulfilling a dream of hers.
Grace shouldn't question what she's about to do. She should find it an honor. She'll be hailed a hero. Her name will never be forgotten. She can't help with question the motives behind these actions. True, she'd rather be in the Hills with other people who will do what they can to fight Keran Berj's power, but are they any better than he is? Is death always the answer? If Grace really believed that cause, she wouldn't really be on train she's on now, or would she? If she gives up now, then she may not reach the border she hopes to find.
Grace is a powerfully written book and one that I can see being used in high school class rooms. Well written, and only two hundred pages long, Grace is full of themes and messages that will spark discussions with readers. Elizabeth tackles a touchy subject and gives it a face and a meaning, with a very strong character named Grace. Understanding Grace's story, I fell in love with this strong, real character who will not let her dream die, even that means risking her own life.
Grace and Kerr are two broken, but strong-willed main characters, surrounded with a small number of supporting characters. With a book this powerful, you don't need more than that. Kerr himself is a character my heart broke for. Together Kerr and Grace find understanding in each other, and share a determination and will power to live. As a reader, I was pulled into their stories and left with feeling hope for them, and the future they can change." --Mundie Moms
"Grace is unsettling in its depiction of a futuristic totalitarian government--its people managed by a maniacal puppeteer. The unsettling part is though Elizabeth Scott places her story in the near future it more uncannily resembles present day-and with it, all the raw intensity of nitroglycerin.
Spartan in its description-spare and hollow, and forcing the reader to hunt for the plot, Grace is the tale of a young girl destined to be a tool for The People and their insurgent group, the Rories. Not her people. As an outcast and even ostracized by her own family, Grace is destined to be an Angel--a suicide bomber. Reluctantly.
After botching her suicide mission, Grace finds herself on a ramshackle train loaded with Keran Berj's soldiers on a treacherous journey. The only thing in front of her is the warped train track through a scorching desert, and the stranger she travels with to an uncertain future-and the possibility of being caught and subject to a hideous public execution.
As the fist of dictator Keran Berj slowly chokes the life of his constituents, he forces them to walk a high wire of impossible tasks that change daily--for his amusement. This season the law is that women should cut their hair. Last season they were to have it long. He has outlawed the press. No one is allowed to gesture with their left hand. Eyes furtively watching everything. There is no place to hide.
Grace is so full of despair, resembling a flickering light that is close to going out. The only redeeming factor is Scott has managed to inject hope at the bitter end and through the commiseration between Grace and Kerr. Her words, though sparse, pack a powerful punch--Grace is indeed a moving story" -- Fiendishly Bookish
"Though a short novel told with sparing prose, Grace was incredibly powerful and told a message larger and possibly more important than any other. Set in a vivid conflicting world ruled by a violent dictator and his opposition who campaign for "peace," Scott creates a setting where good mirrors evil in many frightening ways. This book explores the true worth of life, the worth of self, in a world where self and life mean nothing in the face of sacrifice and death.
This book was simple and honest, yet it revealed more about Grace's character and world in a few words than most novels accomplish in chapters. Scott did not overplay or underplay anything--not the violence, not the sex, not the people, not the good or bad of each, and not her characters' strengths and flaws. The heroine's choices were not always heroic or dramatic or poetic; often they were selfish, small, and arguably wrong--but they were human choices. It is about the most selfish of all choices--the choice to live for yourself, unheroic, unmemorable, but alive. And this book is quietly shouting that this choice is not wrong. Extraordinary." --ReadingRocks4me
Read the book? Check out this extra scene, written just for you!
Read an Excerpt: Click on the cover of Grace found here, and you'll find an excerpt.
The idea behind Grace: I got the idea for from a dream. (I know!) In the dream, two people were sitting on a train--one of those old-fashioned, very fancy trains, but the train itself had become very worn down. And it was very hot. I still remember the girl in the dream--that would be Grace--thinking about how hot it was. And how scared she was that she was going to get caught. I woke up, thought, "Huh?" but wrote it all down and then fell back asleep, hoping for a nice dream about, oh, me and three weeks with nothing to do but read! Instead I was back on the train. And this time the girl--and now I knew her name was Grace--wasn't alone. There was a guy about her age sitting next to her, and they knew each other but didn't know each other and they were both on the run from something. And then the guy looked at her and what Grace saw--I can't tell you because it's a huge spoiler for the book, sorry!---terrified her. And then he told her he knew what she was, said a word she didn't think she'd ever hear again. And then they just looked at each other. I woke up again then, thought, "Nooooo! More!!" and got up and wrote everything down. And then it actually just sat for a while, stewing around in my brain while I tried to figure out why Grace was so scared of him and why the guy said what he did. And then, one day, as I was folding socks (!), it all came together. I started taking notes furiously, and began writing the story that day.
High-res cover here