graceIn a country ruled by the iron grasp of a fanatical, paranoid, cruel despot, people are either cowed into submission or so desperate for freedom they turn to guerilla warfare and terrorism.  To strike closest to the ruler’s inner circle and cause the most upset to the veneer of a “peaceful” society, young women are indoctrinated to sacrifice their lives in a fiery blast.  Innocents die on both sides and few question the madness or the methods or if there’s really any difference between the tyranny of the ruler or the ruthlessness of the freedom fighters.

No one until Grace. At 17, she has lived her life among The People on The Hill, raised to be one of The Angels whose sacrifice will help break the chains that the tyrant Keran Berj has bound around the world.  But Grace has never really accepted the violent teachings of The People; she’s never been truly committed to the cause, for reasons that she cannot name or explain; and yet she’s always obeyed without question and submitted her life to the power of others.  And on the day when she’s been sent to a town to detonate her bomb and give her life, she gazes at the blue sky above, chooses to back away, and explode the bomb only after she’s at a safe distance.

Now that she’s betrayed The People, she’s on the run. She finds someone to help her escape the only country she’s ever known even though she knows there’s a hidden price she’ll have to pay. But Grace will do anything that’s asked of her because her desire for freedom and life is so strong.  And yet, when she’s on the decrepit train, riding across the vast barren desert to the border, afraid of discovery at any moment, the man she’s accompanying, Kerr, turns out to be a more frightning companion than she could have imagined.

Elizabeth Scott’s  Grace(Dutton/Penguin Oct 2010),  explores the most complex paradox of all: what does it mean to chose one’s own life and freedom if it’s at the expense of someone else’s? What is the price of freedom, of life, of choice? Like in her unsettling novel Living Dead Girl, Scott brings the reader deep into the mind of a young woman who has lived under the cruelty of others for as long as she can remember: Grace, like Alice, was not a person or even a human being to those who raised her; instead, she lived only as long as she was useful to them and her pain, loneliness, and desire for her own life mattered nothing to those in power.  The overwhelming desire to escape, to claim her life and her humanity, propels Grace to flee from her bomb, to withstand the fear of flight, and to climb aboard the train with a man she was raised to loathe.  As she edges closer to physical freedom, Grace comes to the realization that true freedom is something inside her: once she accepts and forgives herself, she understands that no one truly has power over her soul.

  • Posted by Cori

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