Tuesday 13 November 2012

Review: Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners

Grace Grows

 Grace Grows
 Author: Shelle Sumners
 Publisher: St. Martins Griffin
 Publication date: October 30th 2012
 Source: Netgalley
 My rating: 4.5 stars

Grace Barnum’s life is precariously balanced on sensible choices and uncomfortable compromise. She dutifully edits textbooks that, she fears, may be more harmful than helpful to kids. She is engaged to a patent attorney who is steady and reliable. She has a cautious relationship with her fascinating father, a renowned New York painter, and she prefers her mom slightly drunk.

Always a planner, Grace feels prepared for most eventualities. Until the responsibility-challenged Tyler Wilkie shows up. Fresh in town from the Poconos, Tyler has warm eyes, a country drawl, and a smile that makes Grace drop things. Worst of all, he writes devastating songs. About her.

Tyler reaches something in Grace, something she needs, but can't admit to. Something she wants, but won't succumb to. Tyler Wilkie loves Grace Barnum and ruins everything.  And Grace grows.

 Oh, the heartache!  The swoony, achy feel this story gave me!  I felt LOVESICK over a freaking book!!  I couldn’t stop reading. I was so bowled over with angsty feelings and I just had to know how it ended. This was another one of those books that I read long into the night.  I peeked at the clock at my bedside after I finished and it was 5:30 IN THE MORNING!  Even when I closed the book and my eyes I still couldn’t fall asleep because the scenes kept replaying over and over again in my head.  

This story begins with the quote:

“How Tyler Wilkie wrecked my life..”

The Grace we first meet firmly believes this statement.

Twenty-seven year old Grace is at point in her life where she thinks everything is on track and how it should be.  She has a job editing educational textbooks.  She’s been living with her steady boyfriend for more than half a year.  He’s ten years older and a successful patent attorney.  They have a comfortable relationship, nothing too exciting, and plan on getting engaged when they’ve lived together for one year.  Everything is figured out and well-ordered.  Or so it seems. 

On closer inspection, Grace’s “dream” editing job is not so much.  She’s often tasked with removing bits that are deemed offensive, questionable, or controversial.  The mention of condoms in a sex education text book must be removed.   In a story, fruit salad is substituted for ice cream, because you wouldn’t want to encourage unhealthy eating.  Then the ratio of male and female must be even for equality sake.      
These kinds of changes are slowly chipping away at Grace’s soul, but she plods along and doesn’t speak up, in fear for her job.   

Then there is her boyfriend.  What I noticed from the beginning is the sheer amount of time they spent apart, even when they could be together.  In my mind, if you don’t want to spend time with your boyfriend/husband, most of what they do doesn’t appeal to you or what you do doesn’t appeal to them, you’ve got problems.  He might tick all the appropriate boxes, like being able to provide a stable and secure future, but if you can’t meet with your passions and mind, someone else will creep in.  Guaranteed.

In spite of Grace’s intentions, this is what happens.  This is where we meet Tyler Wilkie, and this is where he wrecks her life. 

Tyler is twenty-seven, like Grace, but does not have his life ordered AT ALL.  He’s come to New York to try his hand a becoming a singer.  He definitely has an abundance of talent, but he’s a college drop-out and doesn’t even have health insurance *GASP*!  I have to tell you, if I were Grace, I’d be running far, far, away as well!  I'm so about responsible!  She runs into Tyler outside of her apartment, he’s a dog walker for a neighbor, and they strike up an unlikely friendship.  She’s drawn in by Tyler’s outlook on life.  He sees things with fresh eyes.  He wants more, but she continually pushes him away, and so she should.  She’s committed to someone else.   I hate cheating books so I was pleased that this wasn’t one of them.   This story takes you on their journey with obstacles a plenty, but I loved every single page!  There’s a slow change in Grace, and in Tyler, each changing and growing because of each other’s influence.   And oh, man, did I fall head-over-heels in love with Tyler Wilkie!!   

I found the writing of the story subtle, it didn’t beat you over the head telling you how you should view or think of a character or situation, and you’re left to make your own conclusions.   I felt like I made all the same discoveries or revelations at the same time Grace did.   There were a few times I did want to slap Grace upside the head and tell her to get a clue, but I could see her point of view.   I wanted these two to have their HEA after so many close calls and misses! 

Like I said, I couldn’t stop reading this until I knew what happened.  I have to give a high rating to a story that claims my attention so absolutely.  I’m still haunted and consumed.  


Pooja. S said...

Wow. Grace Grows sounds so...wholesome and I LOVE the title! Ek, I would've ran a million feet away from Tyler as well. The health insurance thing :O definitely interested in reading this one. Awesome review, Jasprit :)

Pooja. S said...

Whoops, I mean Rachel! I thought that was Jasprit's signature for some reason. *sheepish*

Keertana said...

Rachel, I'm going to go bankrupt someday buying all these contemporaries you recommend!(; I would have never picked this one up on my own, but I really want to read it now. Although these stories are predictable, it's one of my favorite story lines and I always love seeing how the protagonists grow and become better people. It's such an intriguing journey and I definitely can't wait to meet Tyler now either! Fantastic review, dear! :D

Eunice said...

Rachel! This sounds like a very sweet and fun read! For a book to keep you up until 5:30 in the morning says a lot. I love opposite couples and how their feelings developed and how they eventually balance each others out. Like Keertana, I can't wait to meet Tyler too. This will have to go on my tbr! Great review, Rachel. :)

Jenny said...

Ummmmm I need this book immediately Rachel! Any book that makes you stay up till 5:30 in the morning devouring it is a book I have to have in my hands asap. I love the sound of Tyler, and the books that have me all tied up in knots and dying of angst are the ones I always go back and reread again and again. CAN'T WAIT!

Jennifer said...

Swoony aches, makes you feel consumed and it has heartbreak? sounds like my type of book, LOL. Such a sucker for books that tug on the hearstrings :D Awesome review, Rachel.

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) said...

I've added this to GoodReads as soon as I saw your rating! I've been reading more and more contemporary romance lately and there's no one I trust more than my favorite vanilla queen.
Thank you for the wonderful review, Rachel!

Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings said...

Well that opening line sure grabs your attention. Books that keep you up way past your bedtime are the best. I want to know more about this since you said it haunted you and consumed you. Lovely review!

Henrietta @ Leisure Reads said...

Staying up till 5:30 in the morning? The story must be really good!! I like that both Grace and Tyler changed and grew because of each other’s influence. I'm going to add this to my wishlist. Thanks for the review, Rachel!

Unknown said...

Oh, wow. 5:30 am? That tells me all I need to know! Grace Grows sounds like the perfect Contemporary Romance, and I am dying for those lately. Gorgeous review, Rachel. Thank you for bringing it to my attention!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to recycle the comment yet again because it's really worth repeating: wowwwwwww 5:30 in the morning? I haven't stayed up so late since I binged on Hunger Games and Catching Fire. ;) Excellent review, Rachel! It sounds like a must read for sure. :) And it's a bit off-topic but those two dogs look EXACTLY like my dog I owned a few years back...

Arlene said...

Okay, something that had you reading until the early morning hour... I've got to give it a try. Beautiful review Rachel. You piqued my interest. XD

Vegan YA Nerds said...

Wow, I love how much this story sucked you in and held you captivated! The cover really caught my eye but I hadn't heard of it until now - wonderful review!

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