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  • Bernadette Bloom and Whitney Hilts

Pageturners: The Grace Year, Untamed

Updated: Feb 25, 2021

One fic, one non. That's (usually) our MO. Whitney Hilts gives us a book Katniss Everdeen would definitely have on her shelves, and Bernadette Bloom weighs in on the Untamed hype.

The Grace Year, by Kim Liggitt

In this enthralling dystopian novel, girls in Garner County are banished in their 16th year because they’re told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, and to drive women mad with jealousy. The whole story focuses on Tierney—the hero I needed at 16—who sees more for herself than what everyone has set out for her. She dreams of a community where women aren’t pitted against each other and then auctioned off to the highest bidder.

As the girls are sent off into the wilds to dispel their “magic” for the year, they know they won't all return alive. But is the true danger in the woods or with one another?

This story is the most thrilling mix of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Hunger Games—adventure, murder, excitement and, most importantly, independence. The feminist narrative is so engaging and had me simultaneously despising and rooting for each girl. I bit my nails right to the bitter end, questioning what was happening and why, and even though the author kept a lot of details about Garner County and its history vague, I found myself using more of my imagination to fill in the gaps—a nice change from my usual cookie-cutter mysteries. I honestly never thought that I, as a thirtysomething firmly rooted in reality, could get so invested in the lives of fictional teenagers, but it was truly an emotional journey. —WH

Untamed, by Glennon Doyle

Ah, February.

The month of love.

More like the month of broken resolutions. It’s why I don’t make them anymore. Resolutions tend to put a lot of pressure on an already pressure-filled life. So, in honour of my resolution-free 2021, I decided to read the much-talked about Untamed by Glennon Doyle.

Glennon Doyle tried for years to be a good wife, good daughter, good mother, good employee, good friend. And despite all of this “work for the common good,” she felt overwhelmed and lost. Glennon decided to quit being good, so she could be free. Free to love whomever she chose, free to set some much-needed boundaries, free to live.

When I mentioned I was reading it, I was told, “Oh, you’ll like it. There’s a lot about divorce in there, though.” Thing is, I’m not divorced. Would there be something in there for me, I wondered? With some trepidation, I dove in anyway.

Guess what? The old adage is true. Never judge a book by its cover. There was definitely something for me in there. Topics I didn’t think pertained to me. That’s the beauty of Glennon Doyle’s directness. She touches on so much of what women feel and think but never dare say out loud.

Untamed is a lot like a Sunday sermon for me. Sometimes the message doesn’t click, but other times a nugget of wisdom falls into my lap and I think, Hey, that’s me.

Here’s an excerpt that spoke to me: “Let’s look at the hopes and dreams I have created for you. I see you, and I know you better than you know yourself. You can do anything I put your mind to.” Yikes. How many times had my parents done that to me? (Answer: countless.) How many times had I done that to my own children? (Answer: countless.) And this was just one of the many takeaways from this extraordinary woman’s story. Understanding so much of who we are and why we make the choices we do was an eye-opening experience. It felt good to examine it all, to dissect my discontent, and to (dare I say it) resolve to make changes.

Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes raw and honest, it’s a book for wherever you find yourself in life. Whether divorced, married, parenting younger children, parenting older children, Glennon’s memoir is like meeting your best girlfriend for coffee. You know, the wise friend who gives you permission to set boundaries, love yourself, defy societal expectations and for the love of all that is, to just live. —BB

Post image: Sincerely Media/Unsplash


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