Score: 96/100 (9.6 out of 10)
This is a phenomenal novel in so many ways! At first glance, you'd think this would be some kind of chick-lit book with perhaps some kind of spiritual angle, but this book is far more than that. It far exceeded any of our expectations!
The main character, Judith, is sent by her grandmother, the eponymous Grace Lee, on a road trip through the country—a road trip that she'd dreamed of taking herself had she not become so ill with leukemia. Through this guided bus tour, which could've come across as mundane or even boring in the hands of a less skilled writer, we actually experience a tremendous, or even life-changing adventure along with the character, meeting interesting new people and learning new things.
And, oh, the people she meets! Judith, a somewhat highfalutin woman with some anxiety about people, encounters an aspiring musician, a historian, a Vietnam veteran, and a little girl suffering from a terminal illness among other interesting people (these are just some that stood out to us). It is difficult to say which of these encounters is most interesting, but we would dare say it is Judith's encounter with “Jukebox Johnny” the aspiring musician. This encounter is interesting because it begins very poorly. We are quick to judge the character of Johnny as a rude and lewd cowboy with no scruples. However, he is much more than that as the reader eventually learns.
Also incredible about this book is that we experience American history along with Judith. Through this history, we—along with the character—gain a new sense of appreciation for the country, the military, the native peoples, and even humanity as a whole. Case in point: Judith's stop at the memorial of the Oklahoma City Bombing is not just a sobering reminder to us of the deaths of Americans to a profound tragedy, but also of loss itself. This goes hand-in-hand and accompanies the solemn tone of the novel, which focuses on loss, coping, and grieving.
All throughout this unorthodox hero's journey, Judith is learning new things about herself and growing as a character.
There are also some great quotes that come from this book.
For example, the Vietnam veteran, Albert, tells Judith, “Scars remind us that we're fallible... But it's the scars we can't see that remind us how strong we are. They're the hardest to heal. And we don't have to fight in a war to have those.”
The songs/poems in this book are also incredibly beautiful and fit the tone and feel of the book.
We're giving “Finding Grace” our highest rating yet (9.6/10) because it's one of the best fiction books we've read in a while. Yes, it drags a little bit, especially at the end, but all in all it does exactly what it needed to do.
Check it out on Amazon!