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  • Writer's pictureCaitlyn Lynch

Book Review: Saving Grace by Debbie Babitt

Set in Repentance, Arkansas, a rural town in the South’s Bible Belt, ‘Grace’ is Mary Grace, the first female sheriff of Repentance. A single mother of a 12 year old girl, when one of her daughter’s friends goes missing, Mary Grace can’t help remembering what happened more than two decades before… when two girls she knew well were murdered. Is history repeating itself? Will there be another victim? Can Mary Grace find the missing girl before it’s too late… or is this Mary Grace’s own sins coming back to haunt her?

I really didn’t see the twists coming here, but I have to admit that I was feeling pretty impatient by that time to know what Mary Grace’s own internalized guilt and conviction she was evil was all about, since she kept harping on about it in her internal monologue. And, without actually revealing any spoilers, I was definitely left with the sense of ‘is that it?’ when we found out the truth.

The overly religious evangelising by some characters here turned out to be something of a red herring and I wondered why it was necessary, before realising that it’s actually just part of setting the scenery of the novel. I’ve never lived in a small town in the Bible Belt, but I could almost feel the stifling judgement, the fervor of the true believers as they searched for a scapegoat, for sinners to point their fingers at. That aspect of the writing is truly well done, as are the twists at the end of the story, but my frustration with Mary Grace’s own character and the fact that the pace was slow enough to drag at times mean I’m not entirely sold on this. I’ll give it four stars.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.

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