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Saving Grace

by Debbie Babitt

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454572,121 (3.25)None
For twenty-four years, Mary Grace Dobbs has been searching for salvation. Orphaned at eleven, she was forced to go live with her Bible salesman uncle, wheelchair-bound aunt, and a cousin who tortured and killed small animals. At school, a bully made her life a nightmare. Everything changed when a newcomer to town became her only best friend, and changed a second time when that friend and another classmate vanished two months later, never to be seen again. Today, Mary Grace is the first female sheriff of her rural town, a position that doesn't sit well with some of the locals. Keeping order and her demons at bay becomes an impossible task when the Black drifter suspected in the earlier disappearances returns to Repentance . . . and another sixth grader vanishes.? With old prejudices and new secrets spilling out into the open, the modern world soon illuminates the village's darkest corners. The case becomes even more fraught as a cult of white supremacists brings its gospel of hate to Repentance and violence explodes, claiming more lives. Racing to find the missing girl while fearing for the safety of her own sixth-grade daughter, Mary Grace must confront an unspeakable truth?and face a decision no parent should ever have to make.? Set in a remote mountain town, where the secrets run as deep as the hollows, Saving Grace?is at once a spell-binding tale of innocence lost and a twisty, edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller. This startling debut novel introduces a captivating protagonist whose concept of good and evil can shape a young girl?then and now.?… (more)
2022 (1) 22 Suspense (1) ARC from Library (1) dnf (1) fiction (1) imported (1) mystery (2) signed (1) thriller (1) to-read (21)
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Showing 4 of 4
The book is preposterously idiotic, painfully boring and a complete waste of time. If you choose to read it, Read the summary on the fly leaf or on the back and skip to about page 270. Prior to that absolutely nothing happens and nothing is revealed.
I couldn’t figure out how a book this bad got published, not only is the reveal totally unbelievable but the reader is given no clues along the way because the author has the story telling skills of a rock. Yes on top of everything else this book was painfully boring. I didn’t care who was killed or why because the victims were barely fleshed out.
This is what is wrong with books today!
It’s like they have a checklist
1. Heavily religious people showing how blind and ignorant they are of what’s happening around them.
2. Have the story take place in the south or in this case Arkansas, because they have lots of white trash religious zealots.
3. Have the characters be racist.
4. Have characters who hate minorities.
5. Tell the story both in the present and in the past.
6. Have an author from the “industry” who lives in NYC and at best traveled to the location they stage the book in, so they can confirm how backwards everyone is.
I am truly conflicted about what to do with this book,
Try to sell it to a used bookstore and get some money, or throw it in the trash thus preventing anyone else from wasting their time reading it! ( )
  zmagic69 | Mar 31, 2023 |
A totally fresh mystery in a world choked with a million mystery novels. It is very typical in the beginning with a "lost girl plot". With a new sheriff Mary Grace Dobbs in charge from here the typical plot flies out the door. There are twists and turns right till the very end. The novel returns to Mary Grace's childhood the which lays the perfect groundwork for what happens in the present day. I can't believe that this is the author's first book. I look forward to book two. A movie maybe? ( )
  muddyboy | Sep 12, 2021 |
Saving Grace by Debbie Babitt is a highly recommended (maybe) debut novel of suspense.

Set in two different time lines in the small town of Repentance, Arkansas, Saving Grace follows Mary Grace Dobbs' search for her salvation from her past. In 2019 Mary Grace is the first female sheriff and the single mother to Felicity. In 1995 Mary Grace was an eleven year old orphan living with her aunt and uncle when two of her sixth grade classmates went missing in an event that rocked the town. Mary Grace still has guilt over the events in 1995. Her long-held guilt could be over her temper, a bully who made her life difficult, her cousin who was sadistic to animals, or her feelings over her parent's death. When a man who was a suspect in 1995 returns in 2019, it brings a host of emotions across the town, especially when a sixth grade girl disappears.

While the story will hold your attention for the most part as you try to figure out why Mary Grace has so much guilt, the actual novel is a bit choppy and uneven. The narrative alternates between the events of 1995 and 2019. The switching back and forth in time as well as the tense, first and third person, was not as successful in this novel as it has been in others. There are enough hints and suggestions in both timelines that imply something awful is coming, which will keep you reading even during certain parts that seem repetitious and rather long-winded and slow.

Mary Grace is a character who is hard to analyze and get a read on why she feels so condemned all the time. In both timelines, Mary Grace constantly bemoans her cursed state and lack of salvation and you won't learn the reason why until the very end. Granted the ending is really a shocking twist and revelation, but getting there was a struggle at time. Part of the issue could be the constant referral to what she did, to her reprobate state, but then nothing, no disclosures, for so long that you begin to doubt that anything of any importance actually did happen to her beyond the typical adolescent traumas. Nothing is really what it seems.

Character development is actually following the same rocky road. Because you don't know why Mary Grace feels cursed and evil and you don't see any indication of her behaving that badly. It seems like she may just need some therapy and perhaps medication. At the same time the townspeople are really reduced to caricatures of a type rather than unique individuals. It also felt like there was a bit of stereotyping the residents of an area of the country. (3.5 rounded up)

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penzler Publishers via Netgalley.
http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2021/02/saving-grace.html
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3858095806 ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Feb 24, 2021 |
Read my full review here: https://www.howdidthatbookend.com/saving-grace-debbie-babitt/

This 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.

I finished this suspenseful read in just over a day, eager to get to the end and learn all of the town’s secrets. The plot was well thought out and I did not guess the ending, which is the mark of a good, unique thriller for me. Many red herrings kept me guessing right to the end.

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.

Though this has nothing to do with the story itself, I was bothered by one aspect of the formatting. Throughout Part 1, the book switches back and forth between "then" and "now" chapters, with the Then chapters told by Mary Grace in the first person and the Now chapters following her as an adult but told in the third person. In Part 2, most chapters remain in the present day, with the exception of Chapter 38. This flashback is italicized and shows Mary Grace as a child told in third person omniscient. Why wasn't this chapter formatted the same as the rest of the “Then” chapters, with Mary Grace in the first person? The multiple changes in narration and timeline were a little jarring at times.
( )
  caroline.bookends | Dec 9, 2020 |
Showing 4 of 4
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For twenty-four years, Mary Grace Dobbs has been searching for salvation. Orphaned at eleven, she was forced to go live with her Bible salesman uncle, wheelchair-bound aunt, and a cousin who tortured and killed small animals. At school, a bully made her life a nightmare. Everything changed when a newcomer to town became her only best friend, and changed a second time when that friend and another classmate vanished two months later, never to be seen again. Today, Mary Grace is the first female sheriff of her rural town, a position that doesn't sit well with some of the locals. Keeping order and her demons at bay becomes an impossible task when the Black drifter suspected in the earlier disappearances returns to Repentance . . . and another sixth grader vanishes.? With old prejudices and new secrets spilling out into the open, the modern world soon illuminates the village's darkest corners. The case becomes even more fraught as a cult of white supremacists brings its gospel of hate to Repentance and violence explodes, claiming more lives. Racing to find the missing girl while fearing for the safety of her own sixth-grade daughter, Mary Grace must confront an unspeakable truth?and face a decision no parent should ever have to make.? Set in a remote mountain town, where the secrets run as deep as the hollows, Saving Grace?is at once a spell-binding tale of innocence lost and a twisty, edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller. This startling debut novel introduces a captivating protagonist whose concept of good and evil can shape a young girl?then and now.?

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