When fifteen-year-old Grace Stanley's brother is killed in a car accident, she does what any typical girl would doshe loses it. She blames herself, denounces God, and gives up on school, her friends, and her churchgoing family. Then along comes a "saintly" and nerdy new girl, Philomena, who literally saves Grace's life and helps her find her way back to herself.
About the Author
KATHERINE SPENCER has written many books for children and adults, including eight books in the bestselling Cape Light series. She lives on Long Island, New York.
Read an Excerpt
People can be so weird. You think you really know somebodyyour best friend or even your mom or dadand then something happens. Something huge and unimaginable. Something that changes everything.
Afterward you realize you don’t know anyone the way you thought you did.
You don’t even know yourself.
That’s what I kept thinking the first day of school. I’d hardly even left the house since the accident. And now, as I walked down the hallway and sat in my morning classes, everyone seemed like a stranger, giving me funny looks, whispering behind my back. Maybe I’d expected some of that. But I didn’t expect people to stare right through me, as if I were invisible. As if I were the ghost, instead of Matt.
By the time lunch rolled around, I just wanted to see my friends. My mom had dropped me off late, and I’d missed meeting up with them before the first bell. The cafeteria was a complete and utter zoo, but it wasn’t hard to pick my gang out of the crowd. They were sitting in the usual spot, third table down on the left, next to the courtyard windows.
“Grace! Over here!” Rebecca saw me first. She smiled and waved. When I walked over, she jumped up and slung her arms around me in a quick, tight hug. For a second I felt like my normal old self again, instead of Harding High’s new sideshow, the girl whose brother had died that summer.
I dropped into a seat at the end of the table and took out my lunch. Sara Kramer was in the middle of a story, as usual, making everyone laugh.
“. . . so then this really hot guy walks up and says, ‘I can get it open. Let me try.’ He yanks on the door and practically tears the locker right off the wall. I swear, he was like a superhero or something. And he was totally hot . . . Did I mention that part?” She sighed and rolled her eyes. “So I get my books out. Finally. But then I can’t close the door because the Mighty Hunk has bent it totally out of shape. Now I have to go down to the office and tell somebody, and they’re probably going to charge me to fix it. But the worst part is, I didn’t even find out his name . . .”
She took a sip of her soda and sighed heavily. Sara is our drama queen. She can’t help herself. She can leave a room for two minutes to get a drink of water and relate an entire adventure when she gets back.
“I know who you mean.” Andy Chin nodded. “Shaggy brown hair? He has on an orange T-shirt with a surf logo?”
Sara leaned across the table. “You know him?”
“He’s in my chem lab. I don’t think he’s that hot.”
“In matters of taste there can be no argument,” Sara declared in an elegant tone. “And that boy is totally tasty.”
Andy laughed and took another bite of salad. Quiet and incredibly smart, Andy never loses her cool. She always eats healthy stuff she brings from home in a plastic container and has a pin on her knapsack that says, meat is murder.
“So, what’s his name already?” Rebecca prodded.
“Rob Schneider, I think.” Andy shrugged. “Something like that.”
“He’s not new.” I shoved my half-eaten sandwich back into the plastic bag. “He transferred last spring from Ridgefield. He used to hang out with Matt sometimes.”
Suddenly quiet, they all turned to look at me.
Sara looked embarrassed. “That’s right. I guess I did see him around last year. Maybe he’s been lifting weights over the summer . . . Grace . . . ?” Sara’s blue eyes widened. She’d been so absorbed talking about her mystery man, this was the first time she’d taken a good look at me. “Whoa . . . you totally cut your hair. When did that happen?”
Andy and Rebecca exchanged swift glances. I could tell they’d noticed my hair but didn’t want to make a big deal over it. I’d basically been hiding out in my room for a month and a half, ever since Matt’s funeral. But the haircut was a recent development. As recent as last night, in fact. In sort of a fit, I’d just chopped it all off. I felt so different inside, I wanted it to show.
I’d done it in the bathroom with a pair of sewing scissors. My mom was in her bedroom watching TV. I could hear the sound of a home-decorating show through the half-closed door.
With Matt gone, our house felt empty and strange and lonely. Some nights I would go to my parents’ room and stretch out beside my mom on the bed. We didn’t really talk. We didn’t have to. We each knew what the other was feeling. Other nights I’d sit on the floor in the dark hallway outside their door, wanting to be near my mother but not wanting to actually face her. Our dog, Wiley, would drop down next to me. Wiley missed Matt, too. He just couldn’t say so.
Wiley and I would sit there, side by side, listening to the TV babbling away and my mom crying quietly, pulling tissues from a box on the bed, thinking no one could hear her.
Meanwhile my dad would disappear into his home office in the basement right after dinner and stay at his computer until everyone else went to bed. Sometimes I’d hear the keyboard tapping away. And other times nothing at all. He never used to work at home, but since the accident, he did it a lot.
It had been easy last night to sneak some beers out of the fridge and up to my room. I’d never had muchinterest in alcohol. None of my friends drank. But now I felt like, why not? A nice buzz sure softened the edges and helped numb the pain. I’d felt scared about coming back to school and the beers helped that, too. That’s when the makeover impulse had struck, I guess.
I cried when I finally realized what I’d done. Another beer helped that, too.
After the initial shock I decided I liked the choppy look of it. It was out there. Edgy. The new Grace. So of course I had to find an outfit this morning that matched the hair, something radically different from my usual look, which was a semigrunge, no-slave-to-fashion-but-no-nerd-either style.
I’d tossed aside a T-shirt and cargo pants for a short denim skirt, then made it even skimpier using those handy scissors again. I layered a few tank tops and found a pair of awesome Indian earrings that dangled practically to my shoulders. Not quite my usual style.
This morning guys who had never given me a second look were drooling all over my history text. I didn’t mind. What was the point of being so good all the time and dressing like such a nice girl, anyway? Life is short. I wanted dessert first.
Sara still stared at me.
I shrugged. “I cut it last night. I just felt like it. Guess I needed a change.”
She nodded quickly. “It looks great. Honest. It’s just really . . . different.”
I knew she didn’t like it. That’s what people mean when they say “really different,” right?
My poor mom had actually gagged on her coffee when I showed up in the kitchen. My father had left very early for a business conference in Baltimore, sparing me his reaction. At least until tomorrow night.
“I think it looks cool. I’d love to cut my hair. Long hair is such a pain.” I could tell Andy was trying hard to be positive, because she never talked that way.
Hey, it’s okay. You don’t have to act all perky for me, I wanted to say.
I caught myself. It just reminded me again that I was in a bad place and my friends felt sorry for me. Maybe that was why it had been so hard to see them this last month and a half. After the funeral it was hard to see anybody.
Rebecca glanced across the table, her brown eyes soft and sympathetic. “What’s your schedule like? Who did you get for trig?”
“Nurdleman. Just my luck.”
Sara made a face.
“Bad break. I heard he’s tough.”
“The worst . . . Ma” I tried to say more, but I couldn’t get past my brother’s name.
Matt, who’d been an honest-to-goodness math whiz, had promised to get me through trig, no matter what. I was certain now I’d never pass on my own.
“Did you say something, Grace?” Rebecca looked confused.
“Never mind.” I shook my head. I suddenly missed the rest of my hair. The way I could conveniently hide under it. And as much as I’d wanted to see my friends, I didn’t feel like sitting with them anymore. I wasn’t even sure why.
“Listen, I need to take care of some stuff . . . with my guidance counselor.”
“Okay, but wait a sec.” Rebecca looked at Andy and Sara, and these slow, mysterious smiles appeared on all their faces.
“We have something for you. It’s a surprise.” Sara looked excited. She loves surprises.
I used to love surprises. But I didn’t anymore. Surprises made me feel nervous now.
Copyright © 2006 by Parachute Publishing, LLC
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
After the death of her brother, Grace Stanley starts acting strange. She dumps her old friends, starts drinking, starts lying to everyone, starts hanging out with the popular kids, flunking her classes, missing study sessions, and skipping school.
But then something happens; Grace just snaps. Later, her parents confront her about missing classes and flunking math. They tell her that this isn't like her and that they didn't realize that she was having so much trouble.
She feels like she can't talk to them because they're always at church. But then Grace meets a girl named Philomena. She helps Grace with everything. See what happens. Find out what makes Grace say "enough!"
Grace has a lot of feelings and you get to hear them through her point of view. I think this book was excellent. It was thrilling and I didn't want to put it down. I recommended it to all of my friends when I was finished; it made you want to read more and more!
When something tragic happens in teenager Grace Stanley's life, she loses control of herself and becomes someone she never thought she'd be. Life was so easy for Grace before her brother died in a car accident over the summer. After his death Grace begins to lose her faith in God and begins to seclude herself from the world. Once Grace goes back to school she gets herself into all sorts of trouble, that make the reader want to keep flipping the pages to see how far she goes, in the book "Saving Grace".
Author Katherine Spencer makes Grace's brother Matt a big part of the story. Grace gets the reader to know him well making his death extremely emotional for those reading this book.
Grace's grief is extremely believable due to the fact she completely idolized her brother. She adored him for his individuality and his single mindedness. Grace finds it difficult to believe he is actually gone forever and she sadly blames herself for his death.
Grace's parents use church to relieve their sadness. While they spend most of their time at church volunteering, they are oblivious to how badly Grace is coping with the loss of Matt.
As Grace starts 11th grade she befriends the popular crowd, ditches her old friends, lies to her parents, cuts classes, and uses alcohol and pills to treat her grief and stress. When her problems start to build up it becomes too much for her to handle.
I couldn't imagine going through what Grace did without any real support. Grace wouldn't have recovered if it weren't for the new girl in school named Philomena. Philomena eventually befriends Grace at her lowest point in the story and helps her find herself and brings back her faith in God. Philomena seems almost like a miracle sent from God (or Matt). Her mysterious life and her gentle heart make her seem close to angelic. The book doesn't directly tell you who or what Philomena is, making you decide for yourself.
This book had such an extremely moving and grappling plot that kept me constantly reading. This story seemed special to me because I felt I could relate to Grace even though I never really lost someone that close to me. I think any teen could relate to Grace and get something out of this book. For this purpose I highly recommend the book to anyone willing to take an emotional adventure.
teen book club book. it was a little weird. like...emo person saved by angels weird.none of my teens really got into it either. only one girl actually gave a thumbs up.
Oh My Gosh this book is like so awesome touching and moving in many different ways. i may only be 13 but this book is verry aweome in my mind you'll have to buy it to here the end of the book!!