Finding Grace – Laura Pearl
Last year I was delighted when I won a copy of Finding Grace written by my friend Laura. Most excitedly it arrived just in time to be tucked into my hospital bag along with the Tim Tams (chocolate coated biscuits). As all mummas know, essentials for a stay in the maternity ward include chocolate and a brand new book to savour, for those moments when your newborn is asleep and you are slowly going mad looking at the walls of the maternity ward. Finding Grace will always be part of my memories of Bella’s birth, as in the 20 hours between Bella’s birth and when we booked out, I managed to begin and finish reading Finding Grace. After labouring through the night, I was exhausted and should have been sleeping any moment I could whilst Bella slept, but I became hooked on the story.
Reading and reviewing a book when you ‘know’ the author was a different experience. Whilst Laura and I have yet to meet (we live on opposite sides of the world) we have been connecting over our blogs for more than a year. There are similarities in our personalities and our lives; we are both practicing Catholics married to practicing Catholics, we’re madly in love with our husbands, we have lots of sons and love son dynamics, and neither of us were ever considered ‘cool’ and we’re good with that:) so I’m always keen to get to know Laura more, if we ever do meet I’m certain we’d talk nonstop for hours and hours. Laura’s my role model, she not only dotes on her sons but loves her daughters in law and grand-babies to bits, I want to be warm, giving and loving just like Laura.
When you read a book written by a friend whom you are wanting to deepen a friendship with, you read said book with a different mindset, as if gleaning for further insights even though your friend has clarified, though her characters share a couple of characteristics of people in her life, she has not based the novel on her life you still wonder… therefore your reactions to the characters of the story become more personal which makes it harder to review, as I’m aware I can be a harsh critic.
My thoughts, when the reader becomes so engrossed in a story that they really engage with the characters, liking and disliking them, then the author has done a good job. Long after putting Finding Grace down I was still thinking about the characters, plotting sequels for the other characters, I really wanted to know the story of one of Grace’s childhood classmates but alas Laura assures her readers Finding Grace is a stand alone and her next book, Erin’s Ring is totally different.
Synopsis, Grace Kelly (not THE GK) a thirteen year old is inspired by a comment of her father’s to become a saint. The book is set in the early 1970s a challenging time for young people as the world recovers from the sexual revolution and young Catholics are not exempt from this shake up. Grace is raised in a Catholic home and attends a Catholic highschool, she calls upon Our Lord, Our Blessed Mother and the saints to help her navigate the rocky waters of growing up in this era. The author has been authentic to the period, to the culture, some of the phrases used made me smile as they were so corny and so 70s.
To be honest Grace in the beginning really irritated me, I so wanted to shake her and talk her into having a better sense of self identity, of her worth, she was so worried about her looks, she badly needed self confidence. I don’t recall ever being that painful at 13, she was embarrassingly obsessed. As her character developed in sanctity she focused less on the shallow. Grace’s father bothered me, he preached at Grace, I don’t take well to that sort of approach. Grace’s mother I liked and was saddened that her and Grace were not closer and Grace’s brothers were extremely likable and admirable young men. Tom Buckley, Grace’s friend was a young man of impressive character, he had moral strength and consideration for others, no wonder Grace ‘fell for’ him, certainly an admirable young man.
Grace suffers lots of teen angst, battling with her own insecurities, whilst having to navigate the moral issues of the 70s, including teen pregnancy and abortion, issues which continue to be part of the challenge of young people today. The answers to moral issues of the 70s ultimately are no different for today’s generation and Laura dealt with them very well. We see Grace develop from a young insecure girl into a young woman of depth, we watch her show compassion to others who have chosen different paths to hers and we watch her romance with Tom Buckley grown and mature. I was thinking about the novel long after I put it down and I’m eager to read Laura’s next book.