Thursday, June 6, 2013

Review: Stages of Grace by Carey Heywood


Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance...

When facing death a mourning period is to be expected. But what if it's not a person but a relationship that dies? Grace and her boyfriend Jon have been together for three years. They live together and have shared many beautiful memories. Those memories are what keep Grace from admitting Jon has changed and is no longer the man she fell in love with.

Afraid of being alone and holding on to something that no longer exists Grace is a shadow of her former self. Her daily objective is to hide her pain from the world. Then, an unexpected letter sets off a whirlwind of potential life changes. In life sometimes the hardest thing to do is let go.

Leary says:

Stages of Grace is a story that follows the main character, Grace, through the five stages of grief as she goes through the process of deciding whether or not to end her three year relationship with her boyfriend Jon.


These stages are central to the entire story. At first I had a hard time connecting with Grace. As we being learning about what has transpired in her relationship with Jon over the last year I found myself thinking that she was a bit weak and unable to stand up for herself. I took a little break from reading the story to sit back and put myself in her shoes and I realized that if I were in the same situation I most likely would have had the same reactions.

Grace and Jon were madly in love for two years and had a fantastic relationship. Jon was easy going and loving in the beginning but over the last year his personality has done a complete 180. All Grace wants is it get the old Jon back and to be happy again but is that even possible? Does the Jon she first met still exist?

As each stage passes Grace becomes a stronger character. Her life really begins in change when she receives a letter that takes her from Ohio to Florida. What happens in Florida and the people she meets are the catalyst to the final stages of grief. We meet a few fantastic characters about half way through the book that speed up the final stages.

I definitely enjoyed reading this book. Even though it was a light read I did find myself feeling the same emotions as Grace but it wasn’t a gut wrenching roller coaster ride which was a great change. We got partial glimpses into the relationship between Grace and Jon when everything was amazing. These glimpses gave me the ability to connect with Grace during the first couple of stages as I felt anger for the loss of what use to be.

I felt that there was a lot of development during the first two stages but as the story continued I found the story to be a bit underdeveloped. After I took my reflection time in the beginning I was extremely connected to the story but as Grace was entering Bargaining and Depression I felt myself drifting.  During the Acceptance stage I was able to reconnect with Grace and thoroughly enjoyed her relationships with the new characters. Overall I thought it was an enjoyable read and I was delighted that even though it was about the ending of a relationship it was still lighthearted.

* 3.5 Stars *

Elle says:

In college, I minored in Psychology and when I saw in the synopsis where this story tied in to The Five Stages of Grief, I was intrigued. Carey Heywood brings a new twist to the rise and fall of a relationship.

Stages of Grace introduces you to Grace, a twenty-something who is stuck in a relationship rut with her long-term boyfriend, Jon.

The story is told through her point of view and is mostly done through Grace’s inner monologue. I typically prefer books to have a fairly equal balance between dialogue and narration (or what I call “showing and telling”). To my surprise, I found Grace’s narration enjoyable. Heywood won me over by incorporating thorough imagery and detail, with a moderate amount of dialogue, amongst characters that are either easy to fall in love with or very easy to hate.  When all of the elements combine in Stages of Grace, the final product is a heartwarming story about building relationships and finding closure.

Grace and Jon’s relationship starts just like any other. They are absolutely smitten with one another. Through flashbacks in Grace’s narration, the author highlights the happier moments between the couple.

Locked in the gaze of the bluest eyes I had ever seen, Jon leaned in to kiss me. I had felt lit from within, as though every nerve ending on my body was emitting heat.

These tender moments are a stark contrast from Grace’s relationship in present day.

I used to live for the weekend, for curling up with a good book or taking a day trip somewhere fun. Nowadays, weekends seem like staring contests until Jon finds some reason to scream at me.

“Don’t worry Grace. You have nothing I want to see.”

The author takes you on Grace’s journey through the Five Stages of Grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance) as she tries to cope with her failing relationship.

Now all I feel is as though I am walking a tightrope suspended over a deep canyon with no hope of making it across.

As Grace progresses through each stage, her character adapts and changes. She forms new friendships, embraces new experiences, and is given the opportunity at a fresh start, all while trying to mend the broken parts of her life. The transformation Grace’s character undergoes within these pages makes her relatable and likable.

With each paragraph, I could see Grace’s confidence grow, as she was one step closer to finding her place and purpose in life. I never stopped rooting for her to reach the final stage of Acceptance.

Overall, I found Stages of Grace to be a delightful journey through the ups, down, and sometimes new beginnings of a relationship. The story is a quick read that’s easy to follow and you can’t help but fall in love with the characters. I recommend adding this book to your TBR list as well as becoming a fan of Carey Heywood’s on Facebook and Goodreads to keep up with what she is publishing next.

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I make up stuff and write it down. Here are some things that make up who I am, in no particular order; Books, Swedish Fish, Rivers, Kids (I have some), Husband (I have 1), Dog, Wuss, Reader, Elephants, Mermaid Shows, Belgian Chocolate, Plastic Rings, Fizzy Water, Abs (I don't have them...well yes, I have them but they're nothing to look at I meant Abs that I like to look at), Twitter (@careylolo), Making up Words, Chair Dancing, Old Movies, Cartoons, Belgian Waffles, Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, People, Kayaks, Screen Porches, Laughing, Colored Paperclips, Junky Green Laptop, Golden Rule, Falling in Love, Jumping in Puddles, Spellcheck, Windy Days.

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