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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A genuine good read!
This is a wonderful story told by a wise narrator, who looks back over the years to his first love, the tragedy that followed, and the purpose that he discovered for his life. I had not read any of Evans' novels before, and after reading a short summary, I was afraid that this would be overly sentimental and saccharine. My fears were groundless. The story is believable,...
Published on October 13, 2008 by BrianB

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but disappointing . . .
Grace is a fictional story intended to highlight the wretchedness of child abuse in our society. It does accomplish this very well and Evans does his usual good job developing characters so real you think you really know them. My complaint is a lack of a meaningful plot, parents who were portrayed as simply not observant, and a poorly written ending. The plot was many...
Published on February 8, 2009 by J. Lykins


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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A genuine good read!, October 13, 2008
By 
BrianB (Northern California) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Grace: A Novel (Hardcover)
This is a wonderful story told by a wise narrator, who looks back over the years to his first love, the tragedy that followed, and the purpose that he discovered for his life. I had not read any of Evans' novels before, and after reading a short summary, I was afraid that this would be overly sentimental and saccharine. My fears were groundless. The story is believable, realistic, and well told. There is nothing pretentious or preachy here, just a heartfelt expression of the author's faith. The sadness and tragedy are not nuanced or downplayed. I cried several times in this book. It is a sad story, and the ending is very uplifting, but it does not bring a relief of sadness. I found it to be very realistic.

The writer brings the worldview of a 14 year old boy clearly into focus. He shows Eric's worries, awkwardness, his lack of control over his own life, and the beginnings of his independence from the adults around him. Reading about Eric's struggles, I remembered once again those intense feelings of adolescence.

The story is told in a colloquial style, which lends verisimilitude to the teenager's voice. He doesn't use proper grammar throughout, but that fits with this novel. The characters in the story are basically good, but with many flaws. The author describes how the boys torture insects during the long summer. The three main characters fight, hurt, and love each other just like the teens I knew and know.

In summary, this is a story that I can recommend to everybody. It deals with mature subjects, but in a respectful and realistic manner. I read it practically in one sitting. Then I gave it to my teenage son to read. I would not do that with many books.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grace changed me forever, October 8, 2008
By 
K Kline (Hendersonville, NC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Grace: A Novel (Hardcover)
There are many reasons I love books from Richard Paul Evans. He's on my very short list of authors for whom I wait, albeit impatiently, every year for a new book. I always wonder if this is going to be the book that falls short of my expectations. I mean, really, how can authors keep writing great books again and again? But I have yet to be disappointed with Richard's novels. Grace probably hit me harder and shook me more than any of his previous books. I don't cry over Richard's books like many do, but this one broke me up. I will not soon forget the feelings it invoked and the changes its message caused in me. A truly wonderful book that can and will change lives. Most of the time I only read a book once. This one I will read again--and again.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Enjoyable Book, October 7, 2008
This review is from: Grace: A Novel (Hardcover)
"Grace" touched my heart and has left me a better person. Not only is this book beautifully written, it also brings awareness to critical issues facing society. The characters are charming and witty. I felt like I was reading about my brothers and childhood friends. Their concerns and experiences display courage and deep love, lessons we all need constant reminders of. It is my favorite of Richard's writing - hands down. I love it! I treasure this story and am excited to share it with my family and friends. It is one I will read and cherish over and over again. One read is not enough.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Fast, But Not Light", November 5, 2008
By 
Eowyn "writingpro" (2nd star to the right, and straight on til morning) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Grace: A Novel (Hardcover)
I finished reading Richard Paul Evans' newest release, Grace, last week. I held off on writing a review because I wanted to ruminate on the novel awhile, let it roll around in my head and "marinate" heart and soul. I also wanted to take my time because you can't rush a review of Grace. It's not that kind of book. Here's why:

When I read the Author's Note regarding the 1874 child abuse case of Mary Ellen Wilson, I almost put Grace back on the library shelf. I can't get near that topic without one of two reactions: dissolving into a soggy heap of tears, or wanting to personally thrash the stuffing out of the perpetrators. As the mother of four boys and the Children's Ministries Co-Director for our church, child abuse enrages me beyond words. It also rips my heart out. Frankly, I wasn't up for either emotion the day Grace came into the library (It took awhile. I was #23 in the "On Hold" queue). Tempted to put it back, I refrained from doing so for just one reason: I own every title Evans has ever written'. I've never been disappointed. So, on the strength of Evans' prior work, I decided to trust him with this new book. So I stuffed Grace into my bag en route to the YMCA with my youngest. Poolside while Josiah splashed down the water slide, I gingerly withdrew Grace and started reading.

Grace opens with a recap of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl and some grandfatherly reflections from protagonist Eric Welch on Christmas Day 2006 (p.5). Told in the first person, the story unfolds in flashback fashion during Eric's teen years and moves from October 1962 to early January 1963. Eric's father, a construction worker, is unable to work due to Guillain Barre Syndrome. The family of four, which includes Eric's ten year-old brother and best friend, Joel, is forced to move from southern California to a rundown, low-rent part of Utah. (I have a good friend with GBS. I've never seen this debilitating disease in another novel.) We struggle with Eric through the first four chapters as he endures the slings and arrows of being "the new kid" in middle school and all the attendant traumas and woes that unhappy scenario typically includes. In Eric's case it's exacerbated by being poor and from out-of-state to boot.

We meet fifteen year-old Grace in Chapter Five. She's foraging for food in a dumpster behind "McBurger Queen," Eric's part-time (scum bag) employer. On page 34 we find out that Grace is a runaway: "I'm not going home." But she has no where to go. Besides, there's something about Grace (and grace) that's ...unexplained. Mysterious. Something that causes us as well as Eric to pause...

Unwilling to leave Grace roaming the streets alone on a cold October night, Eric brings her to the "clubhouse" he and Joel built behind the family's sprawling, dilapidated home. The next 240 pages detail the tender uncertainties of First Love, selflessness and sacrifice, courage in the face of overwhelming odds, the Cuban Missile Crisis, family and emotional struggles, and Eric's rage at the people who "coulda, shoulda, woulda" protected young Grace from her predacious stepfather - but didn't. The willful ignorance of neighbors, school officials and law enforcement receive a withering indictment that's all the more effective for its understated subtlety:

"I sat alone staring at the back of a pew while people who didn't really know anything about Grace talked about her as if they suddenly cared." (p. 292). Evans gently but unequivocally shows how any willful blindness or ignorance makes us all complicit when it comes to crimes against children:

"You killed her. You and Dad and Joel and her pathetic, worthless mother and those stupid, idiotic policemen who just couldn't wait to be heroes. ... You all killed Grace...' (p. 295)

If the story stopped here, it would have been poignant, but Evans doesn't let it go. Not quite. He doesn't leave us outraged, wrung-out, hopeless and helpless. Instead, he subtly intertwines themes of God's grace, redemption and restoration throughout this carefully crafted story of a teen runaway (see the bottom of page 296). This reaches its zenith in an Epilogue that is both hopeful and heart-wrenching. It is in these final, gripping pages that we see how tragedy transforms a painfully shy, self-conscious fourteen year-old boy "with acne and a bad hair cut" into a tough-as-nails, take-no-prisoners prosecutor whose life is forever and irrevocably changed by those late autumn and winter months of 1962 and a girl named Grace:

"I have spent my life hunting down and prosecuting people like Grace's stepfather. I carry Grace's locket into every trial. I've earned a reputation as a fierce courtroom combatant who takes every case personally. What Grace saw in the candle was true of me as well. I am feared. ... Today I continue my crusade. I have testified about child abuse before state lawmakers more times than I can remember. I've lived to see child advocacy become a public concern. I am grateful that the world finally has the courage to open its eyes. My wife asks me when we can retire, but I tell her I'll die in the saddle. With my last breath I'll continue to fight for these children. I cannot save them all, but I can save some of them, and that's worth doing. There are other Graces out there." (p. 305, 306).

I was personally relieved that Evans avoids any graphic details regarding Grace's family history, relationships or the experiences that led to her running away from home. Consummate storyteller that he is, Evans drops subtle clues and hints throughout the story and allows us to fill in the blanks without assaulting us with additional traumatic narrative.

In terms of format and style, Grace features Evans' usual short chapters and his trademark "diary entries" that preface each chapter. The style is vintage Evans, luminous and evocative, introducing us to three-dimensional characters whom we come to know, love, and miss as plot, climax, and conclusion unfold with great sensitivity and sagacity. The book closes with A Letter from Richard Paul Evans detailing practical help readers can provide via The Christmas Box Initiative and Operation Kids. Web sites and a toll-free phone number are included.

All in all, Grace is a fast - but not a light - read. I finished the book in an afternoon. I rate it 4.5 out of five stars. It just wasn't as strong as The Gift and Finding Noel. This opinion may be due to the combined effects of sauna-like humidity, enough chlorine to choke a whale and countless interruptions from an errant beach ball - all part of trying to read beside an indoor pool.

At any rate, I wanted to stand up at cheer at the final page of Grace. I plan on a re-read - just as soon as I restock my Kleenex stash.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I discovered Grace, October 7, 2008
This review is from: Grace: A Novel (Hardcover)
AMAZING! I devoured this book. This is one of Richard's best books! This incredible tale touched my soul! These characters share their hearts and opened mine! I immediately donated to the Christmas Box Lifestart Initiative! It made me remember those relationships in my past that have left an impression or shaped my life. For those I am truly grateful.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars POWERFUL--GRACE WILL TOUCH THE LIVES OF PERHAPS MILLIONS., October 13, 2008
By 
Harold Wolf "Doc" (Wells, IN United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Grace: A Novel (Hardcover)
"Grace" is a heart-touching story covering a few short months of 1962. The life of teenagers. Family love and family hurt. Grace is a meaningful Christmas story of giving and receiving. Grace is a story filled with finding faith through troubles and pains. But a runaway teen, Grace, one of the 2 main characters of the book, also found Christmas joy, and hope in the flickering of a candle flame. There is a life-time of soul and love packed into the written memory of the fictional young pair, Grace and Eric. They learned more of life in 3 months from the inside of a crude "clubhouse" than most of us learn in a lifetime.

Richard Paul Evans, through his inspired writing, shares that knowledge. We can learn from the youth. You WILL NOT be able to stop reading this book until you reach the last page, guaranteed.

Taking a bit of leeway with 16-year-old Grace Webb's Christmas poem written to Eric: "I WOULD"...If only I could buy everyone this book. I would.

This is a must-buy gift for teenagers. Of course any age 12 and above, including seniors like myself, will enjoy it completely. Be warned: your heart will be tugged. Early in the book, and continuing through the reading, one wonders, how can this story have a satisfactory ending? But it does--as the book title promises--Grace.

Yes, Mr. Evans has done it again. I wish I could afford the movie rights for this one. Surely it will happen, and that will be a blockbuster as well as the book. THIS READ WILL BE THE BEST FEW HOURS YOU WILL SPEND READING THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What the world needs now..., November 5, 2008
By 
This review is from: Grace: A Novel (Hardcover)
This was the first time I'd read one of Evans' novels; I had seen one of the made-for-TV movies and thought it too contrived and sentimental. But I tried "Grace" because I needed a break from all the harsh and serious things which have occupied my mind, and it was both refreshing and heartbreaking. The cynics will say that stories like this are foolish and unrealistic; that people in the real world are not compassionate and selfless, and life stories never have happy endings (or, in the case of this novel, an ending where good comes out of pain). The rest of us will have to pity them, because we know better. There's a lot of tragedy out there - and far too few people willing to do some good for someone else. Maybe that's why we need writers like Richard Paul Evans, who have just enough imagination to show us the kind of people we can be.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally Tender Book . . ., October 7, 2008
By 
Anonymous (Salt Lake City, UT) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Grace: A Novel (Hardcover)
"Grace" is an exceptionally tender book that is sure to capture your interest and touch your heart. Just like a flame, our lives need to be nourished, strengthened and protected in order to grow. A wrong word, action or decision can quickly dim our flame. "Grace" teaches us that life and love have depth and it reminds us that age does not necessarily determine wisdom. A must read for all!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do Not Miss This One!, October 26, 2008
This review is from: Grace: A Novel (Hardcover)
I have always seemed to enjoy Richard Evans' holiday books, and this years book, Grace, was no exception. It was just a wonderful story, beautifully narrated, a story that deals with family dysfunction, and mature subject matter.

The narrator recalls his first love in 1962 at the age of fourteen..........

"My memory, like my eyesight, has waned with age and I pray I can get the story right. Still, there are things that become clearer to me as I grow older. This much I know: too many things were kept secret in those days. Things that never should have been hidden. And things that should have.

Who was she? She was my first love. My first kiss. She was a little match girl who could see the future in the flame of a candle. She was a runaway who taught me more about life than anyone has before or since. And when she was gone my innocence left with her".

This is one book that you will want to start and finish in one sitting. Also, if certain books tend to bring a tear to your eyes, I recommend you have the tissues handy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gave it a chance...., November 13, 2008
By 
L. Sisler (Ohio, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Grace: A Novel (Hardcover)
When I first got into this one I was skeptical, but kept reading. I have always been a fan of Richard Paul Evans. Recently re-read The Looking Glass, which is my all time favorite. I really think you have to read Grace in it's entirety to get the whole picture. Evans is always good at redemption stories. His writing is not preachy yet you feel the message he's trying to convey. Even after reading about how other readers had cried, I was determined I wouldn't since I already figured the ending was going to pull at the heart. However, emotions are not something we can easily control, and Evans is a master at weaving words to pull at the soul.
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Grace: A Novel
Grace: A Novel by Richard Paul Evans (Hardcover - October 7, 2008)
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