Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Grace & Serenity by Annalisa Crawford

Grace & Serenity by Annalisa Crawford
Published in the UK by Vine Leaves Press on the 7th July 2020.

G for my 2020 Alphabet Soup Challenge

Living on the streets is terrifying and exhausting. Grace’s only comforts are a steady stream of vodka, and a strange little boy who’s following her around.

At nineteen, Grace has already had a child and endured an abusive marriage. But she’s also had her baby abducted by her vengeful husband and been framed as a neglectful mother. Even her own parents doubted her version of the story. So she did the only thing that made sense to her—run away.

The streets are unforgiving. Winter is drawing in. And Grace isn’t prepared for the harsh realities of survival. At her very bleakest, a Good Samaritan swoops into her life and rescues her. With a roof over her head and food in her stomach, she longs to see her baby again.

But nothing ever comes for free.

Grace & Serenity is a heartbreaking novel which explores how easily childish dreams can be smashed when confronted with the callousness of the adult world. Grace is only fifteen when ninteen-year-old Neil sweeps her off her feet at a party. Even after he uses her pregnancy as an excuse to abandon her for months, the socially conditioned desirability of marriage-and-happy-families leads Grace to immediately accept his eventual proposal, unwittingly putting herself and her unborn child into danger as she ignores or underestimates all the aspects of his behaviour that should ring alarm bells.

The novel is narrated entirely in the first person by Grace herself and I particularly loved how Crawford portrays the glaring differences between how Grace perceives herself and the immaturity of her actions. She is an unreliable narrator too, and I often felt as though I was being led to dismiss her words as unbelievable even when physical evidence backed her up. Grace's rapid slide into isolated homelessness is all too plausible though. Crawford vividly describes Plymouth's urban landscape and I could visualise this city in a different light after having been shown it from Grace's perspective. 

I would recommend Grace & Serenity to readers who enjoyed Angelica Stone by Susi Osborne or The Tender Birds by Carole Giangrande. Crawford's novel is a dark coming of age story that I frequently found upsetting. It is ultimately a rewarding read however and a book that should be pressed into the hands of all fifteen-year-olds, boys as well as girls, as a cautionary tale.

Meet the author 

Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, and dog.
Crawford writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories, with a hint of the paranormal.
Over the years, she has won several competitions, and had many short stories published in small press journals and online. Highlights include being placed 3rd in the Costa Short Story Award 2015 and being longlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and Bath Short Story Award in 2018.

Author links: 
WebsiteTwitterFacebook ~ Instagram

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1 comment:

  1. The difference in narration of how Grace percieves herself and the choices she makes sounds like an incredibly important one, especially when it comes to choices like this. It sounds sad :(