Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Grace Grows

Grace Grows

5.0 8
by Shelle Sumners

See All Formats & Editions

Grace Barnum's life is precariously balanced on sensible choices and uncomfortable compromise. She dutifully edits textbooks that, she fears, may be more harmful than helpful to kids. She is engaged to a patent attorney who is steady and reliable. She has a cautious relationship with her fascinating father, a renowned New York painter, and she prefers her mom


Grace Barnum's life is precariously balanced on sensible choices and uncomfortable compromise. She dutifully edits textbooks that, she fears, may be more harmful than helpful to kids. She is engaged to a patent attorney who is steady and reliable. She has a cautious relationship with her fascinating father, a renowned New York painter, and she prefers her mom slightly drunk.

Always a planner, Grace feels prepared for most eventualities. Until the responsibility-challenged Tyler Wilkie shows up. Fresh in town from the Poconos, Tyler has warm eyes, a country drawl, and a smile that makes Grace drop things. Worst of all, he writes devastating songs. About her.

Tyler reaches something in Grace, something she needs, but can't admit to. Something she wants, but won't succumb to. Tyler Wilkie loves Grace Barnum and ruins everything. And Grace grows.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Tightly controlled and emotionally constrained, textbook editor Grace Barnum is leading a step-by-step life in Sumners’ compelling if slightly patchy debut. Living with her often-gone boyfriend, Grace is uncharacteristically “dressed like a call girl” the day she meets aspiring singer Tyler Wilkie. From then on Grace and Tyler share a completely chaste friendship that hovers on the brink of being an affair. Grace refuses to admit her feelings for Tyler, or even think to tell her boyfriend how much time she spends with the scruffy musician. When she realizes Tyler is writing songs about her, she panics and does all she can to push away this chance at genuine, world-shattering love. The story’s focus on its frustratingly stubborn heroine, her well-developed family ties, and the confusing dance between longing heart and shuttered psyche creates a slow yet satisfying, engaging quality that keeps the pages turning. Agent: Laurie Liss, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

“I loved this novel, and not just because of the dogs. Grace Grows is enormously fun and tender, a new take on the whole opposites attract approach to love ... and sex.” —Julie Klam, New York Times bestselling author of You Had Me At Woof

“Grace Grows is a funny and romantic page-turner with a swoon-worthy hero and a wonderfully down-to-earth heroine. A great read, and original songs are a cool bonus!” —Melissa de la Cruz, New York Times bestselling author of Blue Bloods and Witches of East End

“Grace Barnum is a charming and relatable character torn between playing it safe and going for it. You'll find yourself smiling and swooning as you fly through Sumners' witty, honest and delightful novel about taking a chance on love...” —Elisabeth Robinson, author of The True and Outstanding Adventures of The Hunt Sisters

“Shelle Sumners sparkling debut novel is romantic, funny and wise. You will root for Grace Barnum as she lets go, takes a chance and falls in love.You will swoon as a troubadour wins her heart the old fashioned way, through poetry and persistence...and to think he's from the Poconos. You just never know. ” —Adriana Trigiani, New York Times bestselling author of the Viola series and The Shoemaker's Wife

“The story's focus on its frustratingly stubborn heroine, her well-developed family ties, and the confusing dance between longing heart and shuttered psyche creates a slow yet satisfying, engaging quality that keeps the pages turning.” —Publishers Weekly

“Readers will fall for the swoonworthy hero and root for the couple to overcome each obstacle.” —Booklist

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.04(h) x 0.86(d)

Read an Excerpt

GRACE GROWS (Chapter 1)

day zero: my unravelment begins

(unravelment: is that a word?)

The first time I met Tyler Wilkie, I was dressed like a call girl.

By pure, titillating coincidence, my strategy for work that day was cleavage. The big guns. Or, in my case, the medium, B-verging-on-C ones. Because yesterday, having dressed like a Mennonite librarian for our meeting with the textbook lobbyists from Texas, I'd sat there mute and limp while imagination was besieged by the powers of ignorance.

Forbes and Delilah Webber loved my blouse with the Peter Pan collar. Delilah called me "the sweetest little thing" and "precious." They promised to recommend our middle school Teen Health textbook for statewide adoption if we agreed to:

a) Remove all information regarding condoms.


b) Change the word imagine to suppose. Imagine being "too like the word magic—it might upset some people."

They also asked us to get them orchestra seats to The Lion King.

After the meeting, I begged my boss to refuse the Webbers. My traitorous coeditor Edward, who happens to be from Texas, capitulated and offered to do the edits, reminding me that we "don't mess with Texas" and its four-hundred-million-dollar book-buying budget.

We were meeting with the Webbers again today, to show them the changes. I didn't know what I could do to stop the anti-imagine machine. I had tried to come up with a plan all the sleepless night, and I had nothing. This ship was going to sink, but I decided that I, their "sweetest little thing," could at least try to look taller going down. I could project confidence and strength. Defiance. Sex. A tall, cruel, European dominatrix vibe.

It was so not me.

I donned the black pin-striped suit my mother gave me for Christmas two years ago, which I have worn exactly once. To a funeral. Only I hiked the skirt up a couple inches and wore my push-up bra. Found an ancient pair of stockings in the back of my drawer. Then I squeezed into the black, four-inch-stiletto-heeled, pointy-toed shoes I bought on sale at Lord & Taylor to go with the suit. I pulled my hair into a low, severe knot, and put on mascara and lipstick. Red.

I pulled on my raincoat and grabbed an umbrella, my laptop, and the twenty-pound green leather shoulder bag that contained All I Might Conceivably Need, which might include (but was not limited to):





lip balm


hair band

big hair clip


book (Lolita, it happened)


bottle of water

bag of raw cashews

70% dark chocolate bar

appleblack pen

red pencil

black Sharpie

red cardigan sweater

tacky vinyl zipper bag with photo of fuzzy kitten on it, stocked with:

various-sized Band-Aids

small tube of antibiotic ointment

antihistamine and antidiarrheal tablets


Tylenol with caffeine

Tylenol with codeine


nail file


water lily oil

hand lotion

travel-size Shower Fresh Secret


tea light and matches


tiny fold-up scissors with needle and black thread

ginger tea bags


pocket copy of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, for grammatical emergencies (memorized, but sometimes a tired mind becomes uncertain)

Oh, and one more thing: the silver pocket angel Edward gave me, wedged deep into a rip in the lining of the bag.

Thus aggressively attired and equipped for any eventuality, I headed down the three flights of stairs to the lobby.

Big dogs, barking.

I came around the last bend in the stairwell and saw them—our across-the-hall-neighbor Sylvia's prize-winning giant schnauzers—tugging at a guy who sat at the bottom of the steps with their sparkly leashes wrapped around his hand. He heard me coming and moved to one side, murmuring "sorry," as I stepped carefully around him.

When I reached the door, God help me, I looked back. Might as well have gone ahead and turned to salt.

He was rubbing his face.

"Everything okay?" I chirped, willing him to say yes so I could go. The dogs shifted their Batman-like ears toward me.

"Uh, not really. She left me a note." He spoke with a slightly countryish kind of drawl that reminded me, unpleasantly, of the Webbers. "Blitzen and uh...Bismarck here have just been groomed for a show and I'm not supposed to get their feet wet."

Clearly Sylvia was even more insane than I had suspected. And the guy looked pathetically bleak.

"Hold on," I said, and went back upstairs. I grabbed a cheap umbrella from the pile of extras in our hall closet and a box of zipper bags from the kitchen, and rooted around in our junk drawer until I came up with an assortment of rubber bands and a roll of masking tape.

I tiptoed back downstairs (the shoes), sat next to the guy, and bagged one of Blitzen's meticulously pedicured paws while she tickled my neck with her beard.

Once I had just about successfully finished the first foot, I looked to see if the guy was watching and learning.

He lifted his eyes from my chest and said, "Oh hey, thanks!" He grabbed a bag and got busy on Bismarck.

It took the two of us about six minutes to double-bag all eight paws. Then I lurched back up en pointe, belted my raincoat firmly across my waist, and picked up my laptop bag. The guy stood too, handed me Big Green, and startled me with a smile that was blindingly sweet. I blinked and lost my grip on the strap, but he caught it and resettled the purse firmly on my shoulder.

"Thanks, you really saved me," he said.

I held out the umbrella. "Here, take this. I think the rain's just about stopped for now, but you might need it later."

He smiled the smile again and tucked the umbrella in the pocket of his army/navy outerwear.

"I'll bring it back to you," he said. "What's your apartment number?"

I waved a hand. "Don't worry about it."

He took up the dogs' leashes and pushed the door open for me. Blitzen and Bismarck pulled him toward the park and I tippy-toed double time in the other direction, toward the subway.

"Hey!" I heard him call out.

I turned around. He was at the other end of the block. He mouthed the words thank you.

I smiled and shrugged. No big deal.

GRACE GROWS. Copyright © 2012 by Shelle Sumners.

Meet the Author

SHELLE SUMNERS has worked as a waitress, actress, copy editor, bookseller, and wedding chapel receptionist. Sometimes she only pretended to do these things while furtively scribbling notes for screenplays and novels. Shelle lives with her husband, Lee Morgan, and daughter in Pennsylvania.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Grace Grows 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Grace Grows is one of those deceptive books that sucks you in without you realizing it. You find yourself slowly enveloped by Grace's world and her very real character. And that's what's so wonderful. Sumner gives us someone in Grace with whom we can identify--if we are truly honest with ourselves. She's refreshing, funny, scared, and eventually brave. I loved her.
floridaromancegirl More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing and really sucks you in! I read it in one day and just couldn't put the book down. Wonderful characters and story line. Definitely a must read!
MCS-H More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVED this book, it was raw and real. Sometimes Grace made me so mad for her decisions regarding Ty but she was true to herself. I am in love with Ty. I vote for a book 2! HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
JKone More than 1 year ago
I got this book as a gift and read it in 2 days. I loved it! Sumners' knows how to draw characters that are real and tells their story with sharp wit and engaging dialogue. I cared about Grace (Big Green!) and Tyler and their story will stay with me for a long time.  Where is Sumners' next book? I'm ready for it!! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved loved loved this book! This book will be one of the few that I will probably read over again. I was very disappointed to learn that there are not more books by this author out yet. I will definitely be on the lookout for her next one.
csingh More than 1 year ago
Every once in a while I'll read a book I'll fall in love with. It's the characters, the story, the emotions they evoke in me, and how I feel and think about the book long after I've put it down. When I fall for a book, I also fall for its author because ultimately it's their blood, sweat, tears, and hard work I'm enjoying. Grace Grows was a book I wasn't expecting to love. Enjoy, maybe, but not love. Especially since I dragged my feet on starting the book. Boy did that change the moment I met Tyler.  You wouldn't expect Tyler and Grace to work together, especially since they are so different, but they did. I loved the dynamic between them and was rooting for Grace to let Tyler in from almost the beginning. Granted, their initial meetings weren't so great, but I could see that spark between them. I find it funny I liked Grace as much as I did. I've already mentioned she and Tyler are almost polar opposites in personalities. Tyler was ready to jump in and commit himself while Grace was hesitant and reluctant. I loved that their chemistry wasn't instant so much as it slowly developed over time. It felt a lot more like reality as opposed to fiction. This book had some really feel good moments. I did a lot of laughing, some crying, and a whole bunch of groaning. Both Grace and Tyler made some choices that I didn't agree with, but I couldn't judge or condemn them for it. They always had the best interests of each other at heart. I honestly do not understand why this book didn't go viral and have all 5 star reviews everywhere. I sincerely feel like this book is a hidden gem and you can't help but fall for Grace and Tyler once you meet them. I've been stalking, well following Shelle Sumner on Facebook and Twitter. I'm really excited to see she's been writing a new book. I honestly can not wait to read it. Her debut book stole my heart and I'm just eager to see what she does with the next one. If you happen to see this Shelle, I wouldn't mind more Grace and Tyler! :)
Princess-B More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book! I couldn't put it down. Grace is your sister or best friend. You follow her through heartbreak and discovery. I also liked the soundtrack on Sumner's website. Since music is important to the characters, it's nice to be able to actually hear the music!