Grace Barker has led a hard life. Abandoned by her mother and sister then raised by a dependent father, Gracie never learned the skills she needs to be a success at life. Plagued by her poor decisions and a history of alcoholism, prostitution, and theft, Gracie the Boats (as her father used to call her) is having trouble keeping herself afloat. When the story opens, she’s been sober for a year, working as a care worker, and fostering her dependent daughter’s son. This tenuous hold on normality doesn’t last, however, and Gracie’s carefully constructed life comes crumbling down around her in the course of two days. Will Gracie be able to correct her poor (both metaphorical and actual) vision?
Grace narrates indecent acts using her own rules of grammar and spelling. Grace is illiterate so her unconventional writing style is initially hard to follow. Once the reader settles in, though, the story flows with its own inevitability. Grace is unintentionally funny and surprisingly insightful, and the pathos of her life is simultaneously hard to read and compelling. The reader can’t help but wish for better for Grace: better self-esteem, better support, and better choices. The poetry of her simple language will stick with the reader long after the book ends.
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