Grace: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

A heartwarming and inspirational Christmas novel in the tradition of The Christmas Box, The Gift, and The Christmas List. The New York Times bestselling author of The Christmas Box and The Walk series returns with a holiday novel of hope, love, and redemption.

She was my first kiss. My first love. She was a little match girl who could see the future in the flame of a candle....
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Grace: A Novel

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Overview

A heartwarming and inspirational Christmas novel in the tradition of The Christmas Box, The Gift, and The Christmas List. The New York Times bestselling author of The Christmas Box and The Walk series returns with a holiday novel of hope, love, and redemption.

She was my first kiss. My first love. She was a little match girl who could see the future in the flame of a candle. She was a runaway who taught me more about life than anyone has before or since. And when she was gone my innocence left with her.

As I begin to write, a part of me feels as if I am awakening something best left dead and buried, or at least buried. We can bury the past, but it never really dies. The experience of that winter has grown on my soul like ivy climbing the outside of a home, growing until it begins to tear and tug at the brick and mortar.

I pray I can still get the story right. My memory, like my eyesight, has waned with age. Still, there are things that become clearer to me as I grow older. This much I know: too many things were kept secret in those days. Things that never should have been hidden. And things that should have.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Would it be Christmas without a tale from Evans (The Gift; The Christmas Box)? In the 1960s, Eric discovers his schoolmate Grace hiding in a dumpster after running away from her abusive stepfather. He offers her shelter in an old backyard clubhouse and becomes her best friend, not realizing the depths of her painful family life until it's too late. Years later, Eric, now a doctor devoted to helping abused children, reflects on this tragic period of his life. Touching and sad, this is sure to match Evans's previous successes on the best sellers list. [See Prepub Alert, LJ6/15/08.]


—Rebecca Vnuk
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416594390
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 10/7/2008
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 106,253
  • File size: 204 KB

Meet the Author

Richard Paul Evans
Richard Paul Evans is the #1 bestselling author of The Christmas Box. Each of his more than twenty novels has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, and there are more than seventeen million copies of his books in print. His books have been translated into more than twenty-four languages and several have been international bestsellers. He is the winner of the American Mothers Book Award, two first place Storytelling World Awards for his children’s books, and the Romantic Times Best Women’s Novel of the Year Award. Evans received the Washington Times Humanitarian of the Century Award and the Volunteers of America National Empathy Award for his work helping abused children. Evans lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife, Keri, and their five children.
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    1. Hometown:
      Salt Lake City, Utah
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 11, 1962
    2. Place of Birth:
      Salt Lake City, Utah
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Utah, 1984

Read an Excerpt


chapter

One

My memory of her has grown on my soul

like ivy climbing a home until it begins to tear and

tug at the very brick and mortar itself.

ERIC WELCH'S DIARY

DECEMBER 25, 2006

It's Christmas day. There is Christmas music playing from the radio in the other room. Mitch Miller's "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." It's a little late, I think; Santa's come and gone, as have our children and grandchildren. They've left an impressive mess in their wake, but I don't care. As I get older I've come to treasure any evidence of family. Snow is falling outside and all is peaceful and still. In such moments it is possible to believe that the world could still be good.

Something profound happened to me today. It started innocently enough -- as most life-changing experiences do -- with a request from my grandchildren to read them a Christ-mas story, "The Little Match Girl." I've never been a fan of the tale, but, like most grandparents, I'm not one to deny my grandchildren. As I read to them, something happened to me; by the end of the story I was crying. Four-year-old Ebony Brooke tried to console me. "It's okay, Grandpa," she said. "It's just a story."

It's not just a story, there really was a little match girl and she changed my life in ways I'm still trying to understand. Even the grandchildren sitting before me wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her. As important as she is to me, I've never shared her story. It's finally time that I did.

My memory, like my eyesight, has waned with age and I pray I can get the story right. Still, there are things that become clearer to me as I grow older. This much I know: too many things were kept secret in those days. Things that never should have been hidden. And things that should have.

Who was she? She was my first love. My first kiss. She was a little match girl who could see the future in the flame of a candle. She was a runaway who taught me more about life than anyone has before or since. And when she was gone my innocence left with her.

There is pain in bringing out these memories. I suppose I don't really know why I feel compelled to write at this time, only that I am. Maybe I want those closest to me to finally know what has driven me for all these years. Why, every Christmas, I occasionally slip away into my thoughts to someplace else. Or maybe it's just that I still love her and wonder, after all this time, if I can still find grace.

Copyright © 2008 by Richard Paul Evans

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Reading Group Guide


This reading group guide includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Richard Paul Evans. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

She was my first kiss. My first love. She was a little match girl who could see the future in the flame of a candle. She was a runaway who taught me more about life than anyone has before or since. And when she was gone my innocence left with her.

As I begin to write, a part of me feels as if I am awakening something best left dead and buried, or at least buried. We can bury the past, but it never really dies. The experience of that winter has grown on my soul like ivy climbing the outside of a home, growing until it begins to tear and tug at the brick and mortar.

I pray I can still get the story right. My memory, like my eyesight, has waned with age. Still, there are things that become clearer to me as I grow older. This much I know: too many things were kept secret in those days. Things that never should have been hidden. And things that should have.

Discussion Questions

1. "It's been said that parents should give their children roots and wings." To what extent is this statement true of Eric and Joel's parents? How might Grace modify this expression to describe the role her mother plays in her life? In your experience as a child and/or parent, how do you interpret this statement?

2. Why doesn't Grace explain to Eric the true nature of her dilemma earlier? Howdoes the author's decision to reveal Grace's character gradually affect your appreciation of her difficult situation? How does Grace's plight as a runaway make her especially prone to falling in love with Eric?

3. How does his father's suffering from Guillain-Barré syndrome facilitate Eric's concealment of Grace? How might having a relative who is seriously ill predispose Eric to behave with kindness toward Grace, when he first discovers her? In what respects is Eric an atypical teenager? How is he typical?

4. How does the threat of nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis intensify Eric and Grace's feelings for each other? How does the crisis affect Eric's immediate family? How does the author's decision to set these character in this era impact your appreciation of the novel?

5. How does their Halloween encounter with Stan, Grace's stepfather, affect Joel and Eric? Why does Stan abuse them verbally when they trick-or-treat? Why doesn't Grace's mother make more of an effort to protect her daughter from her husband?

6. "I just don't think God wants us to do good things because we're scared. I think he wants us to do good things because we're good." What does Grace mean by this remark? How is the morality of Eric's actions complicated by the depth of his feelings for Grace?

7. Why is Grace successful at concealing her pregnant condition from Eric and others for so long? How does the revelation of her pregnancy affect their relationship? To what extent is Eric justified in taking offense when Grace describes him as a naïve boy who believes everything everyone tells him?

8. "Hawaii was just someplace I've always wanted to be, the way some people think of heaven." Why does Grace lie to Eric about having come from Hawaii? Why is she so moved by Eric's recreation of a Hawaiian meal for her on Christmas? When Grace writes in her diary, "Eric is my Hawaii," what does she mean?

9. Why does Eric ultimately reveal Grace's whereabouts to the police? Why does he blame his parents for what ultimately happens to Grace, and to what extent do you agree with him? Why doesn't Grace say anything to Eric as she is led away by the police, and what does her silence suggest about her premonition of what will happen when she is returned to her home?

10. "My whole life I have hoped for redemption. Redemption and grace. I don't deserve it, but I still hope." How does Eric's career path as an adult reflect the enormous impact of his childhood friendship with Grace? To what extent does he seem to have found both redemption and grace in his chosen profession?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Would you and members of your book club like the opportunity to receive a free, signed copy of a book by Richard Paul Evans? Sign up at the author's official website to join his mailing list, and enter yourself in a weekly drawing for a signed copy of one of his books. While there, you can also learn more about Evans's interesting life story, and read more about his many bestselling books: http://www.richardpaulevans.com/index.php

2. What makes a multimillionaire decide to give back to those less fortunate in his community? Would you like to learn more about Richard Paul Evans and how his phenomenal success as an author led him to other philanthropic endeavors? To learn more about his efforts to provide emergency shelters for children at risk, visit the Simon & Schuster website to watch a video interview with the author

3. In Grace, Eric's moving encounter with a young, innocent woman who is victimized prepares him for a career in social justice. How have you been affected by those less fortunate than you? When have you have felt compelled to help a stranger? Along with fellow members of your book club, brainstorm some ways that your group might contribute to those in need. For example: in lieu of a regular meal with friends at a restaurant, volunteer together at a local food pantry or homeless shelter.

A Conversation with Richard Paul Evans

Q: Grace takes place during the darkest days of the Cuban missile crisis. What led you to set the novel during that turbulent era of American history?

A: I initially chose the era because it was a time when society had still not accepted the existence of child abuse and, historically, there were thousands of youth in America roaming the streets. I chose the October of the Cuban Missile Crisis because I wanted to show the contrast of global destruction juxtaposed against the destruction of an individual life. As someone once said, "If the entire universe should explode, the moon and stars disappear and the earth collapse on itself, you still only die once."

Q: How do the characters and plots you explore in your novels germinate?

A: First, the characters. With the exception of Richard in The Christmas Box, Eric, the novel's male protagonist, is probably more like me (as a boy) than any character I've ever created. Grace's character just came to me-a beautiful, strong yet damaged female character who is, like all my favorite characters, a study in contradictions. She is smarter and more mature than Eric, but beholden to Eric for his goodness.

I'm not sure where the plot came from. I started out writing a story about a wealthy man who takes a bet to live homeless for a month and I ended up with Grace. I'm always amazed at the inspiration that comes to me.

Q: Grace's character remains elusive in the novel, though we get a glimpse of her innermost thoughts in her diary excerpts. Was it your intent that she remains something of a mystery to your readers?

A: I chose to keep Grace somewhat mysterious for the sake of the book's climax. The twists near the end have surprised most of my early readers. Also, the story is told from Eric's perspective for obvious reasons -- Grace isn't around at the end to tell her story. I included Grace's diary to get some insight into her experience that wouldn't happen otherwise in a novel written in first person.

Q: Why did you decide to allude only indirectly to Grace's abuse?

A: Again, I wanted to lead the reader into her story. It would have weakened the impact to begin by laying out her whole experience. Also, this is told from Eric's point of view. As he learns more about Grace he grows and matures. In this way the reader, and Eric, have the same experience. (Though I expect my readers are much more likely to figure things out in advance.) The reading experience is like turning the burner on full and watching the water start to boil.

Q: If Grace were made into a movie, as several of your novels have been, what actors could you happily envision playing the roles of the protagonists?

A: I'm a huge Dakota Fanning fan, so I would cast her -- though she'd have to age up to the role. I'm not sure who the boy would be, though Haley Joel Osment would be good if he's not too old by now. I could see Mary Steenburgen as the mother.

Q: To what extent do you set out consciously to examine or explore religious themes in your novels?

A: At one time in my career Barnes and Noble bookstores categorized my books as religious fiction. Though I am active in the LDS faith, I am fascinated by all religions and have studied many of them. I find myself seeking out the commonalities of our different religious experiences with hopes of encouraging, through my writings, the most hopeful, loving and redemptive qualities in all of us.

Q: In your experience, how do readers who are not religious respond to your work?

A: Quite well, actually. I don't remember ever receiving a negative letter from someone in that regard. (Although I have received letters from people angry that I don't promote a certain religion.) I've never been accused of promoting a religious agenda. They usually say things like, "though Evans is obviously a Christian, he doesn't flog you with it..."

Q: Who are some of the authors you most admire and why?

A: That depends if you mean as writers or people. In terms of writers, I tend to read more non-fiction than fiction and I love the works of Marianne Williamson (brilliant), the late M. Scott Peck, and one of my new favorites, Erik Larsen.

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced in narrating Grace from the perspective of an adult looking back on his experiences as a fourteen-year-old?

A: It was a little tricky, as Eric the boy was frightfully naïve and I had to be careful not to allow him knowledge he wasn't ready for. I just put myself in his shoes. I guess I haven't lost the inner child. ;-).

Q: Can you discuss in a bit of detail the Christmas Box House International, its aims, and your involvement?

A: I am the founder and Chairman of the Christmas Box International. Our original goal was to build emergency shelters to help abused and neglected children. We've done well in that regard and to date we've housed nearly 20,000 abused children. Our goals have taken an ambitious leap this year as we launch the Christmas Box initiative, our objective being to give aid to every youth in America transitioning out of foster care. The statistics on these youth are appalling and I believe we can help these youth break the cycle of poverty and abuse and live productive, happy lives.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 74 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(54)

4 Star

(13)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 74 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A touching story with a surprise ending...

    This is one book that you can't put down once you start it. The ending was certainly not something I had expected. Actually, as I turned from page to page, I really had no idea how the book would have to end.
    I was enthralled with Eric, who on the surface seems like any typical teenager but as the story moves, you sense how trusting he is, and how compassionate he is towards Grace, and the love that develops between them as she shares her horrible secret and his urge to protect her at all means. In the end, you get the anguish he felt towards his family, as well as his anguish and the blame he had for himself for giving in and not being there. It was a world that no teenager should have to go through, whether as the abused child or a child forced to keep a secret for someone they care deeply about.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This book wrapped itself around me

    Enjoyed the writing style of this author previously, so had a pretty good idea of the heart-touching quality of his work. This story was so intricately wound around the characters, that, by the end of the story, I had a bond with the 2 main characters. I must say the ending caught me by surprise or at least my reaction to the ending was a surprise to me. I think Mr. Evans got completely real and opened up eyes and hearts with this one. I hold this one dear and would share it with my family.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 18, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jaglvr for TeensReadToo.com

    If one were to look up the definition of "grace," this is what one would find: a virtue coming from God or disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency among others. But either of these definitions could apply to the beautiful story written by Mr. Evans. <BR/><BR/>GRACE is another amazing story written by the author of THE CHRISTMAS BOX. For those who have never read anything by Mr. Evans, GRACE will not disappoint, and will most likely lead you to read the rest of his works. <BR/>For those that are already fans (such as myself), this is another wonderful novel. Many of Mr. Evans' stories celebrate the Christmas season. Though not completely revolving around the holiday, GRACE reaches into the heart and touches all that is special with the Christmas spirit. <BR/><BR/>Eric's life is far from wonderful. After his father hurt his back, the family packed up everything they owned and moved from California to Utah. Money has dried up in the summer of 1962 and, to survive, his family moves into the house left vacant by the death of his maternal grandmother. The house is falling apart, but they are together and have family nearby to help them. <BR/><BR/>To help with finances, Eric works at McBurger Queen after school. It's there, while cleaning up after closing, that he discovers a girl "dumpster diving" (sorting through the Dumpster for food). He recognizes the girl from one of his classes, but doesn't want to embarrass her. Instead, he invites her inside and offers her the food that would otherwise be discarded. <BR/><BR/>While she is eating, he learns her name is Grace. She admits she is running away. Eric can't fathom what a girl his age will do to survive. Without thinking of the consequences, he offers up the only place he can think of, the clubhouse in the far corner of his backyard that he built with his younger brother, Joel. <BR/><BR/>He sets Grace up in the clubhouse with a heating pad for warmth, a flashlight, a transistor radio, and a supply of sleeping bags. As time goes by, the two become friends. He sneaks her food when he can. She sneaks out when it seems safe, and passes her time in the clubhouse with a collection of books from the library. <BR/><BR/>But her family starts a frantic search for Grace. Announcements are made at school. Flyers are put up around town. And eventually it makes the evening news. Eric is terrified he will be found out and that they will find Grace. He vows to keep her secret. His resolve grows more so when she reveals the reason for running away. <BR/><BR/>Eric is only fourteen, and the pressure from all sides start to mount. He knows Grace can never be turned over to her family, but what can a teenager do to help her in the end? <BR/><BR/>Eric berates himself as a grown man that he couldn't help Grace more. He continues to search for the grace he doesn't feel he deserves. Reminiscent of the ending of Saving Private Ryan, the main character searches for the goodness that he hopes he has lived up to in the eyes of those that have gone before him. <BR/><BR/>Mr. Evans has a way of bringing forth buried feelings. GRACE touches you deep in the spirit and makes you want to be a better person. With the upcoming Christmas season, may we all show a bit of grace to those around us.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Touching to the heart,but brings tears to your eyes,Iwould recommend all teens to read this book.

    My name is Kimberly,i was reading the book Grace it was a great story and very emotional.Eric was fourteen when he moved to California with his mom.dad,and little brother Joel.Eric got a partime job working at a local restraunt BurgerMcQueen,there he met a girl Grace who was a runaway looking through the dumpster for food.When Eric saw her he said nothing but asked her if she wanted to come in and get something to eat.After work Eric asked to walk Grace home but said she ranaway Eric had no idea what was going to happen next,Eric said she could stay in his and Joel's clubhouse for a little while.Eric kept her a secret for months after a couple months Grace and Eric started going out in public but tried not to get noticed.at the end of the story someone said they seen Eric with Grace, when the police showed up at Eric's house Eric was scared he didn't know what to do.The police asked Eric where she was he told them in the clubhouse out back in the paster,the police took Grace back to her mom and stepdad,Eric tried to stop them but he was to late,Eric went to school the next day but did not see Grace he knew something was wrong,when he got home Eric's mom told him that Grace was dead and that she was pregnant by her stepdad.
    This book is great for teens who are pregnant and having family problems,it teaches you about responsibility.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2013

    Amiti

    I wonder who it is! The only suggestion I can make is that I think you're going from too many perspectives at once… it's kind of hard to tell who the main character is anymore. Other than that, AWESOME! ~Amiti

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    i love

    i love this book it was so romantic and it really came to me. i love tennage love.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2013

    So is this a true story?

    Please answer:):D

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  • Posted January 14, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Loved this beautiful story!

    I loved the story, beautifully narrated by John Dossett, (which is awesome) who looks back over the years to his first love and the tragedy that followed and his purpose in life.

    It is a very sad but uplifting and inspirational story which was well written. It is raw with the feelings of a teenage boy as he cares for this abused girl and protects here at such as young age. He was an old soul. Sometimes it is good to remind adults of what struggles face adolescence teens today. Definitely a must read by Richard Paul Evans.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2012

    Thats my name

    Thats

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2012

    Excellent read

    Not your stereotypical hollywood happy ending....I LOVED IT!!!
    It felt more true to life.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2012

    Love

    Love

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  • Posted April 23, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Evans does it again with this poignant Christmas tale.

    Evans does it again with this poignant Christmas tale.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2011

    LOVED IT!!! Made me cry at school

    I read this whole book yesterday. I couldnt put it down!!! I finished it before the school day was over. I started crying in language arts when she died (people stared at me... lol. It was kinda embarassing) and my english teacher (also named Mrs Johnson) thought i stabbed my self with my pencil or pen or something. But this was an AMAZING book! Im a sucker for tragic love stories (what almost 14 year old girl isn't?!) This was just as awesome as Nicholas Sparks books :) I cant wait to read more amazing books like this!!!! :D -Mik Mik

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  • Posted August 27, 2011

    Love it!

    This is a beautiful story. I cried and smiled and cried some more. Richard Paul Evans does not disappoint when he writes. Worth the buy and worth the read!!

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  • Posted July 17, 2011

    Sobbed my eyes out

    Grace was a brillant book I loved it! Sad but beautiful. I just wanted to freaking shoot and beat her stepdad though. Anyway I loved it and its a great read.

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  • Posted June 19, 2011

    Great!!

    I love this book, i have read it soo many times!!! I love it!!! :)

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  • Posted January 30, 2011

    a good read

    keeps you interested, a new story line I have never come across in any other storybefore. this book will toach your heart and make you care for the charactors in it. kept me up late reading

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  • Posted May 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Grace is a MUST READ

    This is the story of a runaway teenage girl and the boy who loved and protected her. It is about young love, child abuse, and heartbreak. Richard Paul Evans once again left me in tears. Bring a box of Kleenex.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2010

    Heart warming story

    Such a heartwarming story that touchs your inner spirit.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A good reliable R.P. Evans book - pretty much as expected

    Enjoyed this book as I have his other writings

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 74 Customer Reviews

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