Grace by Morris Gleitzman
|Grace by Morris Gleitzman|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Grace clarifies her relationship with God, church and family in this sweet-but-serious novel from one of Bookbag's favourite writers. It's irresistible.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 192||Date: February 2011|
|External links: Author's website|
In the beginning there was me and Mum and Dad and the twins. 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.
This is exactly how Grace talks because she lives with her family as part of a separatist fundamental Christian sect. She goes to a church school. The school bus driver is a church Elder because she mustn't talk to or touch an outsider as outsiders are unclean. She can't eat outsider food without purifying it first - even ice cream must be microwaved. She wears her unruly, curly hair in a bun and woe is upon her when wisps free themselves from her hairpins.
It doesn't sound like much of a life, does it? But actually, Grace is very happy. She basks in the love of two affectionate parents and she has a particularly close bond with her father who encourages her inquisitive nature and loves nothing better than to answer her questions - about life, love, God, even metaphysics. Grace's father likes to ask questions too. But the Elders aren't big on questions. Submission, obedience and acceptance are their bywords, and questions are more like heresies to them.
And one day, Grace's father asks one too many questions. And the Elders expel him from the church. Grace is horrified and hatches plans to bring him home. And as she follows them through, she begins to see the community that raised her - and in particular her grandfather - in a new and worrying light.
I pick up a new Morris Gleitzman book with a smile on my face. Always. He never lets me down. And, of course, he hasn't let me down with Grace. It's a lovely little book with a deeply sympathetic character, a lightness of touch, and some laughs along its way. But of course, it's also deadly serious - with its themes of religious sects and intolerance, authoritarianism, the status of women, and the strength of loving family bonds.
It's not an anti-religious story. Grace herself is very religious and so is her father. They both have rewarding relationships with God. It's not a sectarian story; not my-God-is-better-than-your-God. The people who do help Grace in her hour of need aren't part of her community; they're outsiders and agnostics. It is a story that sets its face against intolerance and rigidity of mindset. But mostly it's what all Morris Gleitzman's stories are: a serious message wrapped up in greatness of heart and lightness of touch.
My thanks to the good people at Puffin for sending the book.
If they're interested in the issues raised by Grace, they might also enjoy The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams, which is about a young girl in a polygamist sect who is asked to marry her sixty-year-old uncle.
You can read more book reviews or buy Grace by Morris Gleitzman at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Grace by Morris Gleitzman at Amazon.com.
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