An insight into one teenager’s life with Asperger’s. 4/5.
Thank you to Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book. The State of Grace is published this Thursday, 6th April.
The blurb: Grace has Asperger’s and her own way of looking at the world. She’s got a horse and a best friend who understand her, and that’s pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn’t make much sense to her any more.
Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it’s up to Grace to fix it on her own.
Whip-smart, hilarious and unapologetically honest, The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas is a heart-warming story of one girl trying to work out where she fits in, and whether she even wants to.
Being a teenager is complicated for most of us. Navigating a world of mean-girl politics, annoying parents, evil teachers and a new interest in boys and/or girls, all while in the middle of a hormone storm, is a tricky business. Add to this a lack of sensory filter and a difficulty picking up the non-verbal cues most of us read without trying, and you have an idea of the world in which Grace is doing her best to get by.
I enjoyed The State of Grace very much. It’s a good coming-of-age story with a solid plot and sympathetic central heroine. However, the best aspect of the book was how successfully the writing gave me a sense of what being Grace was like. When reading the passages describing situations Grace struggled to interpret and her experiences of sensory overload, I found myself feeling incredibly uneasy and suffocated. It always came as a relief when she managed to escape these moments and take a break, usually by fleeing to the stables and spending time with her horse, Mabel.
The secondary characters are also entertaining and believable, although I feel there’s an essay to be written on “the crucial role of useless or absent parents in YA fiction”. Although, as a parent, I found myself wanting to give Grace’s mother a good shake, it’s certainly true that if the parents in the YA genre were more capable and present, I doubt anything interesting would ever happen to the stories’ protagonists!
Finally, if you are a fan of horses (even just the fictional kind – I suspect Black Beauty fans would enjoy this), this is a book you’ll appreciate. Grace’s horse Mabel is as important a character as any of the humans in the book.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul