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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, big-hearted, laugh out loud novel ... and it's about Christian extremists!?!, 11 Mar 2011
This review is from: Grace (Paperback)
Morris Gleitzman's treasure of a novel is an absolute tour de force - how do you tell the story of a child's troubles from within an unidentified extremist Christian sect and make it funny? Well Gleitzman does it - as he does in his other tough-topic novels (Once which was about the Holocaust and my favourite, Boy Overboard about a boy fleeing the Taliban).

His particular brand of magic is to tell the story from within the disarming innocence of a child - with comic effect. The young protagonist Grace knows only the Bible-led life she lives within her sect, outsider-shunning fanatics. She speaks in disarming bible speak - with one of the best novel openings I've read since Patrick Ness's The Knife of Never Letting Go - "In the beginning there was me and Mum and Dad and the twins. And good luck was upon us and things were great and talk about happy families, we were bountiful. But it came to pass that I started doing sins. And lo, that's when all our problems began." Her so called best friend's idea of eye-rolling put-down is: "You are so judged". Hilarious!

The simplicity of Gleitzman's writing makes this readable by much younger ages. I think his work will be best appreciated by the slightly older, more knowledgeable reader ... the comedy of Gracy is funniest if you have an idea about Bible language and if you have an awareness of religious extremism. But I guess it will still be funny to someone who's never opened a Bible before. If you are a Christian, don't worry, Gleitzman tells this story with a loving, generous spirit and at no time does he disrespect Christians or Christianity.

And lo, it was so good I was laughing and reading and walking and almost got hit by a car. But I didn't get hit so I felt bountiful and gave thanks that Morris Gleitzman is such a fine writer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grace, 18 April 2011
By 
Sarah (Feeling Fictional) (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Grace (Paperback)
Grace has been brought up as part of an extreme religious group and has to abide by the very strict rules set by the church elders. She must keep her hair long and pinned up neatly in a bun, she must never under any circumstances talk to anyone who isn't a part of her community - the outside world is full of sinners who are destined to go to hell - and she must never, ever question the elders. Her parents, especially her father, have always encouraged her ask questions but this causes problems with the elders and leads to her father being expelled from the church. Grace may have been told that she should act as if her father is dead but she is determined to find a way to bring him back home so they can be a family again.

Although this book is aimed at a younger audience than most of the books I read I'm so glad I gave it a chance and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Grace is one of the best young female protagonists I've come across in a long time and it is a joy to read the story from her perspective. She has a child's natural curiosity and questions everything around her which is something that often gets her in trouble but she is brave enough to stand up for what she believes in even when she has good reason to be fearful of the outcome. Her speech is peppered with religious references - hardly surprising when the only book she is allowed to read is the bible - and often caused me to laugh out loud as I was reading.

With less than 200 pages Grace is a quick and easy read and one that is easy to devour in one sitting. Although it covers serious topics it doesn't come across as preachy and includes plenty of humor alongside the horror of discovering more about the church group. It gives a real insight into what it can be like growing up as part of an extremist group and just how difficult it can be. This is a book I'd highly recommend for all ages and I'm looking forward to picking up some of Morris Gleitzman's other stories, if they're anywhere near as good as this one I'm sure I'll be in for a treat.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grace, 1 Feb 2011
By 
Jenny, Wondrous Reads (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Grace (Paperback)
If you haven't yet read one of Morris Gleitzman's fantastic books, where have you been?! He's the author of Once, Then and Now, a series set in WWII that I consider modern children's classics and must-reads for everyone. He writes these incredibly thought-provoking, heartbreaking books, but he still doesn't seem to be getting the huge recognition he deserves. I want this to change and I hope Grace, his latest UK release, will reach a wider audience.

Grace is a short book at only 181 pages, but it tells the powerful story of a young girl living a stifling life of religious rules and regulations. Her family belongs to what is described as a 'special' Catholic Church, where women must have long hair and stay at home, non-members are not to be touched or socialised with, and they employ the belief that only members of their church will go to heaven. I haven't read many books about religion, as it's not something I feel particularly strongly about. The beauty of Morris Gleitzman's story is that it doesn't try to force the reader to think about their own religion or preach the importance of faith, which I appreciated. As always, his writing seems almost effortless, and the simplicity of his sentences proves once again that he is a worthy author for this age group.

Grace is a gem of a character, one that only comes along every now and then. She's compassionate to everyone and everything, even though most of the people around her, including church elders, are the exact opposite. She's forward thinking and inquisitive which, in her situation, causes nothing but trouble. Her parents have raised her to ask questions and learn, and to always treat others with respect. Time and time again she goes against her church's beliefs, and shows her inspiring strength of character. Even when faced with outsiders, she treats them as she'd treat anyone else - as if they're normal people deserving of everyday courtesy.

This book reminded me of Carol Lynch Williams' The Chosen One, which deals with similar themes and issues in the same precise way as Grace. They both share brave female protagonists fighting to break out of their suffocating chains, and both books left me feeling grateful for my freedom and choice. If you read and enjoyed The Chosen One, or even if you didn't, you really should give Grace a chance. It's so much more than it appears to be, and is really the story of one determined girl's struggle and sacrifice to save her family.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Faith, belief, love - a wonderfully emotive read, 17 Sep 2014
This review is from: Grace (Paperback)
Grace is a contemporary story of belief, faith and family. It’s about being true to yourself and your beliefs and standing up for your religious freedom and right to think freely.

Grace and her family are part of a small religious community. Her Uncle has just been made an elder. A special role in their church and it is a time of celebration. But sadly for Grace, she seems to sin despite her good intentions. Her school project sparks outrage from their leader Mr Gosper. It sets in motion a chain of events that will shake the very foundations of Grace’s world.

As always, Morris Gleitzman delivers a powerhouse of a story in a beautiful simple way. The voice of the main character Grace leaps off the page and carries an important message without it ever feeling like a lecture or sermon.

At the heart of this story is a girl who believes in God. She is raised in a small religious community which is a branch of Christianity. Most likely a sect but the author never states the exact group. And in essence that is irrelevant because any system of belief can be corrupted and abused by man. I think I liked this book so much because it didn’t shy away from such a big topic. It explored it through the eyes of a bright, innocent, loving girl and made it easy for me (and young readers) to understand.

It was fun to read about a character who used words like “afflicted” and “wrath”. There aren’t many contexts where a Middle Grade character could use this dialogue and make it work but it really does here and it is rather endearing. There are also many references to bible stories which make this book really great for discussion and exploring Christian beliefs.

I admire Gleitzman for the risks he takes in this book. He puts Grace in extremely dangerous situations and deftly resolves them so satisfyingly.

Overall, Grace is a wonderful novel for readers 8+. Some children who have questions about faith will find this book comforting. Those who have no beliefs will understand those who do a little better. And those who love a great thrilling story, full of love, which undoubtedly enjoy this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book, 3 Feb 2014
By 
Jane Grant "Rachel" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Grace (Paperback)
In read this with my 9 year old daughter who picked it up randomly in the library. We both loved it !! The author has picked a complex and emotive topic which you wouldn't normally associate with children's reading - but he just does it so well. Fabulous story with an enormous subject area - provoked lots of discussion in our house. Loved it so much I bought a copy for my nephew.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and horrific, 11 Jan 2014
By 
R. Strode "Rosie Strode" (near London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Grace (Paperback)
This book vividly recalled parts of my own childhood in the Exclusive Brethren. The oppressive atmosphere of brainwashing and hypocrisy was all too real. Yet the charming style and fast-moving story always have an aura of hope and good humour, and although this is a kids' book I thoroughly enjoyed it even though my childhood is over 40 years away!
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Grace
Grace by Morris Gleitzman (Paperback - 3 Feb 2011)
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