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Stand Up Anyway

Tracy Banghart's Grace and Fury lives up to her last name.

Stand Up Anyway

BOOK REPORT for Grace and Fury (Gracy and Fury #1) by Tracy Banghart

Cover Story: Big Face: Makeover Edition
BFF Charm: Eventually, Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: Sister, Sister
Bonus Factor: Feminism
Factors: Nail-Biting Suspense, Series Starter
Anti-Bonus Factors: Prison, Men
Relationship Status: Adopt Me

Cover Story: Big Face: Makeover Edition

These aren’t the biggest of the Big Faces I’ve seen, but they certainly draw the eye. I know that these two women are different, but they look enough alike that it’s almost like the girl on the left with the minimal makeup is the “before” and the girl on the right the “after” in some sort of teen classic movie makeover scheme.

The Deal:

Serina and Nomi Tessaro live in a world in which women have few rights. They’re not allowed to read, they’re not allowed to pick their own husbands, they’re not allowed to love who they want to love … the list goes on. One thing a young woman can do, however, is become a Grace, a member of a harem that serves the Superior (i.e., the King).

As the eldest—and the prettiest—Serina’s been training her whole life to become a Grace, and Nomi her handmaiden. But Nomi has other dreams, and where Serina’s demure and reserved, Nomi’s outspoken and brash.

When Serina’s picked to be in the running to become a Grace for the Superior’s Heir, she’s elated; Nomi, on the other hand, dreads the trip to the capital city and all the pageantry that goes along with the choosing of the Graces. During one such event, Nomi sneaks away from the party … and finds herself face-to-face with the Heir.

In a startling turn of events, the Heir chooses Nomi to be a Grace over Serina. And then Serina ends up taking the fall for a secret Nomi’s been hiding for years; rather than become Nomi’s handmaiden, she’s sent to a prison on a remote and dangerous island.

Both sisters find themselves in positions they could have never imagined themselves in—but both will also do whatever it takes to make things right.

BFF Charm: Eventually, Yay

At the start of Grace and Fury, Serina is not someone I could see myself hanging out with. She’s too concerned with being a Grace, and all the trappings that come with. She wouldn’t have much time for chatting about books—if she was allowed to read, that is. I get her reasons: her family won’t have to worry about anything if she becomes a Grace, and it’s better than many of the alternatives. And as much as I appreciate that, we would just have so little in common that bridging the gap might be near impossible. (She does become much more interesting as the story progresses.)

Nomi, however, is a lot more my style. She’s not so worried about appearance, she yearns for more than her prescribed lot in life, and she has an active imagination. It would be much easier to hang out with her and not feel judged or like the competition, even when she becomes a Grace. As much as she tries to fit into that world, it’s obvious that she’s rough around the edges. I really dig her passion for changing the status quo.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

You might not think that either of the Tessaro sisters would have time for romance, given their situations. But they do! And it’s decently swoony, too.

Talky Talk: Sister, Sister

Grace and Fury is told in alternating chapters in Serina and Nomi’s POVs. Banghart does a great job of explaining the world through their eyes, and it’s especially engaging to see their thoughts on the worlds that are polar opposites of the ones they thought they’d find themselves in. It’s also interesting at how similar they really are to each other, when they seem so very different at the start.

Bonus Factor: Feminism

For a book about a society in which women have little freedom, there’s a surprising amount of feminism in Grace and Fury. Although Serina and Nomi don’t realize their strength at the beginning of the novel, by the end they’re finally realizing how truly powerful they are.

Factor: Nail-Biting Suspense

About ⅔ through the book, I realized something that shot my anxiety level up a notch or 11 until the other shoe dropped near the end. I literally said, “oh no no no” out loud at one point. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but wanted to make anyone who might be interested in reading this aware. It might not be a book to pick up if you’re already feeling on edge.

Factor: Series Starter

Grace and Fury is a No. 1. I’m not sure how many more books are planned, but there’s at least one more book up on Goodreads. I, for one, am glad, because there are plenty of storylines as yet unfinished at the end of the novel.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Prison

The prison Serina is sent to is a brutal place, and the women there are forced to do despicable things to survive. (There are only hints of any sort of sexual abuse, however, just FYI.) It serves a purpose, but it’s still pretty heartbreaking to read about such a place.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Men

Ugh, men. (Especially men who think women are property or lesser creatures to be mistreated and who’ll do anything to hold on to even the smallest vestiges of power.)

Relationship Status: Adopt Me

I don’t have any siblings, Book, but I’d love to be a part of your family. You’re going places, and I want in on the adventure.

Literary Matchmaking:

  

● For more ladies fighting for what’s right, check out Lesley Livingston’s The Valiant.

● Similarly to the relationship between Serina and Nomi, the sisters in Meagan Spooner’s Hunted have an antagonistic, yet loving, relationship.

● And if you want more “beauty queens in survival situations,” you might also enjoy Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.


FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Little, Brown Books, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Grace and Fury is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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