🌿 Hi guys!! I hope you’re having a great day and that you’re enjoying your current reading.❤️
I’m SO grateful because I’ve been approved with two ARCs that I really wanted and today I bring you my reviews for both of them. I have many thoughts to share with you about both books, stories quite different from each other, but they share a point and it is that both are VERY shocking & heartbreaking.
I hope you like both reviews, they’re a bit long this time, but I had a lot of feelings to put out there so I hope it doesn’t bother you. I’m super excited to share my thoughts with you, since I’ve also found one of my favorite books of the year and that’s INCREDIBLE, so without further ado, let’s start! and I hope you have the most incredible day 🌿
Title: Orpheus Girl
By: Brynne Rebele-Henry
Published: October 8th, 2019
By: Soho Teen
Genre: YA | Contemporary | Romance | LGBT+ | Retelling
In her debut novel, award-winning poet Brynne Rebele-Henry re-imagines the Orpheus myth as a love story between two teenage girls who are sent to conversion therapy after being caught together in an intimate moment.
Abandoned by a single mother she never knew, 16-year-old Raya—obsessed with ancient myths—lives with her grandmother in a small conservative Texas town. For years Raya has been forced to hide her feelings for her best friend and true love, Sarah. When the two are outed, they are sent to Friendly Saviors: a re-education camp meant to “fix” them and make them heterosexual. Upon arrival, Raya vows to assume the mythic role of Orpheus to escape Friendly Saviors, and to return to the world of the living with her love—only becoming more determined after she, Sarah, and Friendly Saviors’ other teen residents are subjected to abusive “treatments” by the staff.
In a haunting voice reminiscent of Sylvia Plath, with the contemporary lyricism of David Levithan, Brynne Rebele-Henry weaves a powerful inversion of the Orpheus myth informed by the real-world truths of conversion therapy. Orpheus Girl is a mythic story of dysfunctional families, trauma, first love, heartbreak, and ultimately, the fierce adolescent resilience that has the power to triumph over darkness and ignorance.
|| Goodreads ||
I want to thank Edelweiss+ and Soho Teen for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review
Diversity/Representation || Queer: Lesbian MC & Gay Side-Character / Transgender Side-Character
This is a book that certainly puts me in a difficult situation because of the fact that, as I mentioned in my little review after reading it, it’s very difficult to describe but it was very easy to feel, and I see that this fact will make it difficult to explain myself, but still I’ll try as always with the greatest respect. I think this is a solid book since I think it’s quite clear what the author wants to express with it, it’s not easy to read, though, because it’s really painful, I’ll explain a little later, but it also has a powerful touch of reality and discovery that really reaches your heart and makes it very difficult to stop reading because you want to know what will happen to the characters.
The book follows Raya, who has been abandoned by her mother as a child and has been raised by her grandmother. Raya’s going through a moment of personal discovery and has realized that the great friendship that unites her with her best friend Sarah, has always been something more like love. Both are very afraid of coming out because they live in a small, highly religious and conservative town, so when their families and the entire town finds out about their relationship, they’re both sent to a re-education camp to “fix” them. Once there, they suffer the worst treatment and Raya begins to see herself as Orpheus and decides that her mission is to rescue her beloved from that hell to finally escape all those abuses.
Even now, when I think of the book I feel a pain in my stomach, and it’s really difficult for me to describe it, as it’s difficult to tell you whether I liked it or not. I think it’s a powerful and shocking story that crudely presents how cruel people can be when they can’t accept diversity. On the one hand, I feel that there’s a great truth in all this, even today there are many entire communities that don’t accept queer/trans people and denigrate them in unimaginable ways, so of course this book has a great realistic impact, I must give credit to the author for that, because although it’s very difficult to read about this type of discrimination and degradation to a human being, it is also important to open your eyes and know that these dark and terrible things really happen out there. On the other hand, and here I want to bring you a point that I want to make very clear, I feel that this book is extremely and unnecessarily painfully. I understand what the author wants to tell and convey, but I personally think that there’s a limit of suffering when these types of topics are touched. What do I mean by this? well, I’m not queer, but I still defend LGBT+ rights a lot so this story impacts me a lot and I had to put the book down for a while because provoked a very high level of pain on me, so I can’t even imagine what it will mean to all my beloved queer/trans people out there.
This is really personal too, but I think maybe in order to want to create a shocking story that reaches many people and becomes popular, unnecessary boundaries are crossed. I can really count on the fingers of one hand the times I experience a good feeling reading this little book, and I think it really was like 2 times. The rest is a torment of negative emotions and we experience moments where we read about people being tortured until they lose their heads or almost die, in very hard-hitting scenes. I don’t know if I would recommend something like this to my dear friends, you know? I don’t want to be bad, but this is exactly what I feel. You don’t have to make a plot like this, where people are tortured to torment and subjected to great subhuman humiliation to cause an impact.
Well, I really needed to put those feelings out there, now talking about some positive things, I’m fascinated by the element of mythology, you already know that I think it’s very well thought out and how each mythological character is brought to life is very interesting to see.
Loved the love story between Sarah and Raya, if this romance had happened at another time, it would have been all pure happiness and enjoyment. It shows and feels very honest and there’s also a certain innocence of the discovery going on among the girls who made me smile. It’s sad to see everything they have to go through and how much they have to fight to be together or not, because their future is really uncertain. It’s all very unfair what happens to them, but well, I suppose it’s the point of the book, right? I still think they’re adorable together, I really like this relationship.
The writing style is very good and addictive, which eases the read so hard content. Despite the things I didn’t like about the book, I highlight the way it’s written and I would like to read more about the author at some point.
I recommend this book? Maybe, but not for everyone, that’s for sure. If you’re a sensitive person, maybe you should pass, but if you’re interested in reading a powerful story about the difficult path that these queer and trans boys must go through to be able to have some kind of future then go for it, I think that despite everything it has a very interesting voice and the characters are good.
I want to make clear before finishing, that I get the author’s idea with this story and I respect her point of view and her way of writing that is very successful, but I don’t share the need to use a plot so exaggeratedly violent and sad to prove a point. I think this could negatively impact people of the LGBT+ community, that’s why I recommend discretion and send you all my love!
TW || self-harm, homophobia, transphobia, and violence against LGBTQ characters.
Title: The Grace Year
By: Kim Liggett
Published: October 8th, 2019
By: Wednesday Books
Genre: YA | Dystopia | Dark
A speculative thriller in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power. Optioned by Universal and Elizabeth Banks to be a major motion picture!
SURVIVE THE YEAR.
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.
|| Goodreads ||
I want to thank St. Martin’s Press & NetGalley very very much for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
“I’m trying to hold back my emotions, but I can feel my face contorting. That strange heat moving to my cheeks. I always thought it was magic moving through me, but now I know it to be rage.”
I loved this book, and I feel super blessed to have had the chance to read it before its publication date, I’d have loved to have my review prepared before but well, here we are, and anyway I’m super excited to tell you a little about this wonderful book, certainly one of the best I read this year. This is a perfect story for this time of year, it’s super atmospheric and very disturbing, so if you want to have a spooky moment with an amazing plot that you can’t stop reading, then this is what you need in your life.
The Grace Year is about this dystopian world that takes place in a place called Garner County, where people think that young women segregate very powerful and demonic kind of magic that leads men to go crazy and bring misfortunes to town, that’s why when the girls turn 16 years old, they’re banished to the forest to spend a whole year there to purify themselves of their powers and thus return as purer beings to finally marry or continue whatever destiny has touched to them. But there are many dangers and unknown things out there, so not all girls survive and in the end only a few returns.
This book is brilliant and the only reason why I haven’t given it a whole 5 stars is because it seemed a bit slow and I think at times the author turns the same subject when it’s something unnecessary, they’re both very light points, so I would really say that they’re more personal of me as a reader than anything else.
Let’s start talking about the idea of this book, which I think is brilliant, personally I love when we have a super creepy situation happening in a village in the middle of nowhere surrounded by forests, is one of my favorite things, it remained me a lot to the movie “The Village”, maybe if some of you saw the movie, I think you’ll get why.
In this book we follow Tierney, she’s one of the girls who must go through The Grace Year, through her eyes we know a little more about how they live there and how the community works, among other things, this is a super religious community where man proclaims themselves as the owner of all truth and throws all these accusations towards women, as treating them as witches and evil beings due to the story of Eve and her sins. Here the woman is seen as an inferior being, men do wherever they want with them and they’re here alone in order to have children and serve their husbands. This whole plot is super annoying and makes me very angry, but at the same time, it’s captivating because there’s a very powerful background about the reborn and empowerment of women, and it may not be super visible but when you finish reading it you realize that it was always there, you just don’t notice it until you have all the information.
The book is divided by seasons and we go through them since the girls leave until they return to town. The chapters aren’t very long although, as I mentioned before, the writing style is quite complex and this makes it slow to read, it took me many days and I was really enjoying the plot itself. I don’t say that I didn’t like the writing style, actually, I found it super interesting and atmospheric, but it was something new for me, so it took me some time to get used to the rhythm and now I’m dying to read more of the author.
This story is overwhelmingly heartbreaking and super creepy. Start and you know that very dark things will come because you start to learn more how things are handled in town and you know very bad things happen to girls during the Grace Year, so you already anticipate the horror, but I must warn you that nothing prepares you, this book is harder, more shocking and even more gore than I thought it would be. There are very raw scenes, from illnesses to dismemberments, even suicides, and things like stabbing and violence from physical to mental, so please I recommend a lot of discretion. It’s a book with violence and the way it is told makes it feel very real, I think that’s why it impacts in such a way. Personally I loved it, and I know it sounds weird, but I think it’s brilliant and I admire the author’s tenacity and daring to go one step further with her characters and her stories and create something that can generate physical discomfort and even fear, because it’s dark, so I think it’s perfect for Halloween, and as we are close, I recommend that you grab a copy, I’m sure it will be a wild but exciting journey.
I’ll talk a little about the characters but instead of doing it, as usual, this time it will be a little shorter because there’s a depth in each one that I find very difficult to explain in words, so I’ll do my best.
First, we have our main character, Tierney and she’s incredible, I LOVE her, from the beginning you already realize that she’s the typically strong and dared female character this story needs, she knows exactly she doesn’t want to get married and be a wife, as most of the girls want. Being a wife in this world gives you a very important social status so it’s like the highest thing to aspire to, but Tierney isn’t interested, in fact, she prefers to be placed in the labor camps and thus earn the life in an honest way and so no one can take her body nor has she as a property. I think she’s so brave, there are things she has to face that are absolutely scary and shocking and she comes out of each of those things and becomes stronger and stronger. I also like how smart she is and how it’s not easily influenced by most. She has a best friend named Michael and I think he’s a sweet and kind boy, and I don’t really blame him for anything, I think living your whole life in such a toxic society can make you see the world differently and I think Michael could overpass that and handle things with his own intuition and heart. Then we have Kiersten, she’s a Grace Girls as well and she comes from a very powerful family so she behaves as the leader of the group from the start. Being honest, I don’t like this character because obviously, she is a bitch, but at the same time I think that everything she as a character contributes to the plot is super incredible, but basically, I think that the whole part that takes place in the forest wouldn’t be the same without her. It’s one of those characters that although it’s there for us to hate, we still know it’s necessary. As there are many characters I try to talk about the ones that stand out in my opinion, so I’ll talk about Ryker, he’s a poacher, his job is to hide in the woods and kidnap the girls to do terrible things with them, it sounds horrible but there are many more behind and the thing is that I love him, there’s something that happens to me with him, is weird but I feel he’s a very easy to love character, due to his personal story and how he cares about his family and also his scenes are super interesting because thanks him we learn many truths and revelations that change the course of the plot completely. Tierney’s mom is a fantastic character with a background won’t see coming, I only mention this very briefly because… spoilers, but it’s a magnificent touch
All the time that I was reading this book and talking to my boyfriend like crazy about it lol, I thought it would be a wonderful movie, and then I realized that there will be an adaptation, so I’m a happy girl and I can’t wait for
There’s a factor that really shakes me and horrifies me every time I think about it, so I want to share it with you. As I mentioned before, there’s this group of men in the forest who live in more precarious areas where women who are banished live and work as prostitutes. The purpose of these men is to hunt these young girls to remove the skin while still alive among other things and then extract each part of their bodies to sell them as medicine to the black market, people said that skinning them while they still alive preserve the magic that is in them and then these beverages or positions, whatever, are sold as aphrodisiacs or beauty products for the highest class people. GOD, every time I imagine this in my head my skin bristles, I think it’s SO CREEPY, OMG.
I think the most interesting and captivating part is when the girls arrive at the place where they should spend a whole year. There are many myths about that place, there are many stories of ghosts and stories about sorcery and magic that you really don’t know if they’re true or not until thing begins to happen during this year. I personally stayed a lot on the side of Tierney’s logical thoughts, but I must confess that in many moments I didn’t know what was going on and OMG, the tension and madness these girls live feels very real, and there comes a point when you don’t know what it’s real and what an illusions of their minds. I’m fascinated by the position that the author took and the way in which events unfold is perfect. I like how madness is played and how this type of sect is achieved. It’s really uncertain because you don’t know what will happen, but you know that something will happen at any time, it’s SO BRILLANT, ATMOSPHERIC and super CREEPY.
To conclude with this endless review, I want to mention briefly that there’s a kind of love triangle going on and it’s not the main issue, it’s not even touched too much, but although you always know where the heart of our main character is, I cannot fail to mention this factor. The romance as such is good, but I feel that perhaps it goes very fast, because this story has so much content and revelations all the time there’s not much space for love, so what we see of it is very little but very passionate. I really like the couple, I’ll not say anything because spoilers, but I liked it, I think there’s chemistry and the scenes are great, but I think need more time to mature a little. Even so, everything that’s happening is so intense and crude that you probably won’t even notice this and the feelings of the characters are very honest and real, so you feel the love anyway.
Well to finish, I want to emphasize that I LOVE this book and I’m absolutely sure that most people will love it too because there’s something very unique about it. The ending is heartbreaking but so amazing and touches your heart in a unique way that I can’t explain. I almost cry with the ending, it’s just…WOW, very hard but real and I love that the author has decided to do it this way, and not with a happy ending since it impacts much more and leaves you thinking. It has a great connotation of faith and hope for change and, that scenes, in the end, is so beautiful and meaningful, it shows the union of women and the rise of something new and an unshakable hope, I simply think about it and want to cry because It’s so moving, I really can’t recommend it enough. If you like scary stories but want to read something that will touch your heart and make you feel A LOT, then you must give it a chance, it’s a wonderful book, one of the best I’ve read this year, no a doubt.
TW || Suicide, Graphic Violence, Dismemberment & Denigration towards Women, among others, I recommend discretion
Have you read any of these books? | Would you like to read them? | What do you think about them?
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