Finding Grace

Finding Grace

4.3 6
by Alyssa Brugman

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RACHEL HAS JUST graduated from high school and thinks she knows everything. Well, maybe not quite everything. Then she meets the mysterious Mr. Preston, who offers her a live-in job looking after Grace—a brain injured woman with a lovely house, grasping sisters, feral neighbors, and a box full of unfinished business. As Rachel tries to cope with the demands of


RACHEL HAS JUST graduated from high school and thinks she knows everything. Well, maybe not quite everything. Then she meets the mysterious Mr. Preston, who offers her a live-in job looking after Grace—a brain injured woman with a lovely house, grasping sisters, feral neighbors, and a box full of unfinished business. As Rachel tries to cope with the demands of her employment and the start of college, she’s also determined to fit together the pieces that were Grace’s former life. The more she finds out about the woman in her care, the more Rachel finds herself.

Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards’ Shortlist for YA

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, November 2004: Rachel is graduating from high school when she meets Alistair Preston. He is an imposing man who later slips Rachel a classified ad for a caregiver ("carer"), for a woman with a severe brain injury. Rachel takes the job and after several weeks realizes that she knows nothing about Grace, the woman for whom she is now responsible. Finding a box of letters hidden in a bookcase, Rachel seeks to find out more about this woman and how she came to be in this condition. The novel is set in Australia, so language, place names, and popular references will not be familiar to American readers. There is some adult language, though it is not used by the main characters. Grace's neighbors are rude people who use language, and a boot, as a weapon. The elderly men from down the street become Rachel's friends when they stop in to check on Grace and Grace's cat, Prickles. During the course of the novel, Rachel starts college at the "uni," and meets a Taiwanese cello player, Harold. By the end of the novel, she becomes accustomed to the blank look in Grace's eyes and gradually works to allow Grace the finer experiences in life, as Mr. Preston has asked her to do. There is some slapstick comedy along with poignant moments as Rachel comes to learn about herself while she cares for a woman who cannot tell her own story. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Random House, Laurel Leaf, 227p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Janis Flint-Ferguson
Children's Literature
Rachel, a college freshman, takes a job as caretaker for Grace, a brain-damaged woman, to help pay her college expenses. Set in Australia, humor and Rachel's interesting personality keeps things moving in this story. For instance, Rachel meets Harold, a fellow student and calls him "Hiro" because his foreign pronunciation of "Harold" sounded more like Hiro to Rachel. Then Rachel invites Grace on her dates with Hiro. Though the care of a person who cannot follow every-day, expected behavior is hard for Rachel, the difficult assignment does not harden Rachel to her task, and she decides to make a career of caring for brain-damaged people. Little hope is held out for Grace, but Rachel sees a spark in Grace's eyes and feels there is a chance for recovery. The kindness and humane treatment Rachel shows Grace appears to be the best therapy Grace could ever receive. Alyssa Brugman, an Australian author, has written a good and inspirational story. 2001, Delacorte Press/Random House Children's Books, Ages 12 to 18.
—Jennie DeGenaro
Children's Literature - Heather Robertson Mason
The move from high school to college is a right of passage for many teenagers. It is a time when they find a new apartment, find a full-time job, and try to find themselves. Rachel shares this experience with many eighteen year olds. What sets her apart is that her first apartment is in a spare room in an old house and her first job is taking care of a brain-damaged woman named Grace. While the summary sets readers up for a melodramatic meltdown, this story is actually a very sweet tale of finding happiness. As Rachel tries to find out what would make her happy in life, she finds clues to what Grace's life was like before her accident. The main characters are very realistic, and Rachel is very entertaining as the story's narrator. Other than some minor references to drinking, there is nothing inappropriate in the novel; nevertheless, high school students will be able to relate to it easier than middle school students. One caveat, the story takes place in Australia, so some terms may be unfamiliar to American readers.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Rachel is just starting college when a local attorney who met her during graduation hires her to care for Grace, his former coworker and friend, who has suffered brain damage. The teen approaches the job with her typical perfectionism, but without much compassion. However, as Rachel begins to unfold and piece together Grace's past, she discovers a woman who once lived and loved. As Rachel opens herself up to a new world of experiences, she is forced to admit that she doesn't know everything. Brugman has written a novel that is both funny and heart-wrenching. The characters have a refreshing creativity, are perfectly rounded, and vividly brought to life as they interact with one another. Rachel's quirky observations create laughter, and her evolving sense of humanity never fails to bring a smile. Grace's story is full of shocking surprises that unfold like a mystery; coupled with Rachel's personal growth, it drives the plot forward as readers long to learn more.-Leigh Ann Morlock, Vernonia School District, OR Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An engaging portrait of a recent high-school graduate as she embarks on her first job as a live-in "carer" for Grace, a brain-injured woman, and simultaneously begins college. Brugman brings to life a young woman who one minute can say, "I'm eighteen and know everything," and the next is tripping over her feet and trying "a new blush avoidance tactic." Told in the first person, the reader is privy to Rachel's refreshingly smart and funny take on her trials and tribulations, her offbeat way of viewing the world. It is however her relationship with Grace, her growing empathy, that is at the heart of this Australian import. A mystery of sorts, Rachel tries to piece together clues from Grace's former life and finds out a lot about herself along the way. Some of the plot elements, particularly the circumstances under which Grace becomes brain-damaged, are excessive. Yet young readers will connect with Rachel's authentically adolescent voice, her journey toward "finding Grace." A relatively new writer, Brugman is the real deal. (Fiction. 12-15)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Alyssa Brugman is the author of Walking Naked. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Finding Grace 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked this book off the teen shelf at my local library and after reading the book jacket (and a truly stinky, poorly written mystery prior) decided it was worth a try. What a find! This book is quirky, funny, well written and a very interesting and touching story. You will love (or hate, depending) the characters who are richly drawn and very unique. The main character, Rachel, is a hoot. This Australian writer has true talent and I look forward to reading her other book, 'Walking Naked.'
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was a real good book, wich will make people think. I liked Rachel's know-it-all attitude and how at the end everything she thought she knew was not all the time correct. And the bottom line is that no one knows it all (including the omniscient Rachel)...i would reccomend this book to young adults and up. I found it a really good that would go good with a cappuchino. Time to sit back and read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Finding Grace is a great book and is for all teaches people not to judge disabled people by the way they act. you should always get to know them before u say anything about them. this is exactly what Rachel learnt. early in the book she said that Grace freaked her out, but later on she said that she didn't know why she thought Grace was freaky....i love this book and recommend everyone to read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was GREAT. it gave me a new understanding of brain damaged people. Rachel learns how to cope with the woman she is taking care of. Everyone should read this!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like it plus my name (first) is the same as the authers