Cover Image: Saving Grace

Saving Grace

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Member Reviews

This wonderful debut novel by Debbie Babitt blew me away. If you like a good southern-based thriller/drama and coming-of-age story, you are going to love this book. 

Saving Grace is a story about finding your identity in a town that wants to put you in your place. It examines whether people can be both good and evil, and whether forgiveness is enough to absolve you of your sins. 

As promised by Scarlet Books, Mary Grace is one of my favorite protagonists in a long time. While she is no hero, regularly referring to herself as wicked for reasons both real and imagined, Babitt pulls the reader in and arranges them firmly on Mary Grace’s team. Past tense Mary Grace has some regrets, but current-day Mary Grace is a strong woman who loves her town and struggles to bring it peace. She isn’t perfect, but that only proves to make her more relatable. 

This book touches on a lot of important social issues: bullying, racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and suicide and mental health. The town of Repentance is way behind the times, even in the present-day chapters. The commentary on all different kinds of discrimination feels extremely fitting in today’s climate. Unwed female teachers are still referred to by first name. One man becomes a scapegoat just because he’s different from everyone else in Repentance, with his storyline coming to a head in a way that is particularly timely. I appreciated watching Mary Grace go from a kid making racist comments just because she had heard the adults in her life say them, to a woman who can think for herself who regrets the racist child she was.
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Scarlet has put out some amazing titles this year, and 2021 is shaping up to be another fantastic queue. From the cover to the blurb, I was eager to request this one and excited to be approved. 

In the tightknit town of Repentance, Arkansas, Mary Grace wrestles her personal demons while trying to maintain law and order. A mother with a troubled past, Mary Grace struggles to find the balance between good and evil, convinced she's damned but striving to do the right thing. When a man from her past resurfaces in Repentance, the line between memory and present-day, she falls headfirst into turmoil. A young girl is missing, just like her best friend who went missing all those years ago, and if history has its way, events will be repeated. And someone else may end up dead. 

I loved this book. I finished it in one sitting and regret nothing. 

Mary Grace is a dynamic protagonist with edge and grace. She's not a hero, but you want to root for her, largely because of Babitt's diction and storytelling prowess. MG's voice is nostalgic yet pointed. Her observations about the world are dictated by her own self-reflection, a fact that felt so relatable and authentic in my reading. 

My favorite parts of this book were the coming-of-age flashbacks. We see Mary Grace navigating through the toughest part of adolescence: body changes, the end of childhood imagination, and the intricacies that come with the friendships between young girls. One particular moment reminded me of a highly-recognized scene from Stephen King's Carrie, but instead of relying on sensationalism of the embarrassment, it's a stark, brutal moment in puberty many women have encountered, and I think many readers will relate to, or at the very least empathize, with Mary Grace's churning emotions. 

Along with its entertaining and gripping plot, there's also some insightful commentary on social issues, among them: bullying, suicide, mental health, racism, sexuality, classism, and all the discriminations that arise when "the way it's always been" meets transition head on. Given our current climate, this read feels timely and oh-so important.

At its heart, Saving Grace is a story about identity, damnation, redemption, and the lengths we go to in order to find ourselves. Are people both good and evil? Can a person be forgiven and still remain damned? A fast-paced psychological suspense with layered twists that will keep you on your toes until the very last line, Saving Grace is a 2021 must-read. 

I'd recommend this title to anyone looking for a strong female protagonist narrative, fans of Carrie or Dolores Claiborne, or anyone who loves a good coming-of-age mystery. 

Big thanks to Scarlet and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.
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I received an advance copy of, Saving Grace, by Debbie Babitt.  I did not like this book, it was gruesome for no reason.  I did not connect with the characters at all.
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To be honest, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to read this book, but I am so glad I did. I found every character realistic, yet flawed in a way that made him or her completely relatable. The plot is fast and kept me reading far longer than I'd planned. I truly hope Debbie Babitt finds the readers she deserves!
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What happens when girls go missing 24 years apart? Is it a copycat? Is it a coincidence? 
This was good, but I got confused every once in a while. There were a lot of flashbacks and a lot of characters to keep track of. The ending was a surprise. Recommended.
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Mary Grace Dobbs had a brutal childhood, one that was only made bearable when she befriended a newcomer. But all that changed when her friend vanished, never to be seen again. Years later, Mary Grace is the sheriff in that same small town and another child, a sixth grader has disappeared. Mary Grace is fighting against the tide in a town filled with prejudice, hate, intolerance and ignorance, but this is a battle she can’t afford to lose – she has a 6th grade daughter of her own
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