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[Young Adult Fiction (Ages 12-17)]

Seventeen-year-old Darcy Prentiss has long held the title of ''town slut.'' She knows how to have a good time, sure, but she isn't doing anything all the guys haven't done. But when you're a girl with a reputation, every little thing that happens seems to keep people whispering -- especially when your ex-best friend goes missing.

But if anyone were to look closer at Darcy, they'd realize there's a lot more going on beneath the surface. Staying out late, hooking up, and telling lies is what Darcy does to forget. Forget about the mysterious disappearance of her friend. Forget about the dark secret she and her cousin Nell share. Forget about that hazy Fourth of July night. So when someone in town anonymously nominates Darcy to be in the running for Bay Festival Princess -- a cruel act only someone with a score to settle would make -- all of the things that Darcy wants to keep hidden threaten to erupt in ways she wasn't prepared to handle and isn't sure if she can.

1 pages, Audio CD

First published May 16, 2017

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About the author

Gillian French

9 books409 followers
Gillian French is the author of five novels for teens: GRIT, THE DOOR TO JANUARY, THE LIES THEY TELL, THE MISSING SEASON, and SUGARING OFF (Algonquin Young Readers, Fall 2022). Her short fiction has placed in many competitions, including Writer's Digest and Zoetrope: All Story contests, and has been published in such magazines are Weirdbook. She holds a BA in English from the University of Maine, and lives in her native state of Maine with her husband and sons, where she's perpetually at work on her next novel.

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5 stars
283 (17%)
4 stars
599 (36%)
3 stars
596 (35%)
2 stars
149 (8%)
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32 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 289 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,744 reviews1,305 followers
May 16, 2017
(I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“We may not have been friends anymore, but Rhiannon was my age, sixteen last summer, and one way or another, she never came home again.”

This was a contemporary story about a girl whose ex-best friend had gone missing the year previously.

Darcy was an okay character, and I thought it was really unfair the slut-shaming she had gone through. Everyone seemed to think that she was sex mad, which wasn’t the case at all, and she even got turned down for a job because of it!

“Sorry, honey pie, this is a family business.”

The storyline in this was about Darcy working picking blueberries over the summer with her sister and cousin, and there was also a storyline about her ex-best friend Rhiannon going missing the previous summer. The mystery in this was very low key though, with a lot more emphasis on Darcy’s day-to-day life, and her reputation than what had really happened to Rhiannon. We did get a bit of romance, and a storyline about Darcy being nominated for Bay Festival Princess, as well as a bit of a competition going on to see who could pick the most blueberries, but it all felt a bit like people picking on Darcy.

“It’s not fair and it isn’t right, but it’s always, always harder on the girl.”

The ending to this tied things up pretty well, and I was pleased that at least part of the mystery was solved.

6.5 out of 10
Profile Image for Melki.
6,040 reviews2,390 followers
July 16, 2020
A bio? Darcy Celeste Prentiss. Lives in the ass-end of nowhere. Rakes berries. Flunks algebra. The end.

Darcy can't wait to get through her senior year so she can leave her gossipy, small town behind, and travel. But before she can do that, there's summer to be endured, and her job raking blueberries. At work every day she can't avoid the guy with whom she shared one insignificant experience the previous summer. She also can't avoid the rumors that have been flying since that night . . . rumors being spread by people who used to be her friends. Darcy does like to party, but does that really make her a tramp?

Darcy spends her time off hanging with her sister and her sweet cousin, Nell, but all is not great with them, either. Something happened to Nell last summer, and no one wants to talk about it. Then there is the mystery of a missing girl. And, to top everything off, someone has entered Darcy in a beauty pageant. Tongues are already wagging about that:

"Nobody's gonna be handing out any crown to some trashy-ass slut who gets so wasted every weekend she doesn't know whose backseat she's been in."

As far as I'm concerned, this is YA done right: no vampires, no life-or-death contests, no surprise magical realism - just real teens facing real issues. I'll be on the lookout for more titles by this author.
Profile Image for Lori.
541 reviews320 followers
May 19, 2017
I don’t read many thrillers or mysteries and Grit by Gillian French made me ask myself why. This book was pretty amazing. I was hooked from the first page until the last.

Grit is a small town story. I’ve lived in a small town my whole life and I can attest that Gillian French captured the suffocating feeling of a small town perfectly. Grit is full of atmosphere. You can almost feel the dusty heat and hear the whispered gossip as you’re reading. The setting and descriptions were one of my favorite parts of the story.

Darcy was a hard character, but I liked her. She made bad decisions and did reckless things but her heart was always in the right place. She cared so much about her family. I really loved their dynamic. She lived with her mother and her sister and her aunt and cousin lived next door. They were all close but they didn’t always get along, or even like each other. It felt very realistic.

Grit takes on a lot. There’s two different mysteries that are somehow interwoven. There’s Darcy’s budding romance and her reputation as a slut. The story deftly handles some really tough issues like rape and slut shaming. For such a small book it had a lot going on, but it was never too much. Everything was executed so well.

I was really left guessing throughout the book. I usually unravel a mystery before it’s revealed, but I didn’t with this one. I had no idea how everything was going to turn out. I also really liked that the story had an eerie feeling throughout the book. It added some much more to the story.

Grit was a captivating debut. I highly recommend it. Make sure you have a lot of time to spare before you start it because you won’t want to put it down.

Read more reviews on my blog, Pure Imagination
Profile Image for Kristin Cipolla.
273 reviews33 followers
November 22, 2016
Loved loved loved this book! Definitely one of the best YA's I've come across (and I've come across a lot)!
Profile Image for Nicka Cassandra.
149 reviews126 followers
July 24, 2017
1.5 stars!

I want to thank HarperCollins International for sending an egalley of this book!

I was buddy reading this with my friend Jayvee but unfortunately us being a bit critical about “observing” how the book was things turned out to be the least we expected it to be. I was so excited to receive a copy of this book because when I saw the synopsis of it at Goodreads I found it very interesting and promising also the positive reviews made me want to read it more. So that’s why we gave this book I try.

Grit was a disappointment for me. The plot was all over the place, there were too many things happening that I, the reader can’t focus on one thing then there will be another element of the story suddenly appears out of nowhere and to make it worse some of those weren’t even introduced properly. The progress of the book was VERY SLOW I was in the middle of the book and still nothing exciting was happening. I thought it was about this missing girl, the harvesting contest, the pageant then there’s issues about the characters that weren’t clearly explained and the romance OH MY GOD. I didn’t feel any kilig or something. I feel that the romance in this book isn’t really necessary and also some of the characters.

There was also a hint of racism found in this book. You are warned!

Side note, the book ended on the different side of it, it’s like the first part of the story didn’t happen at all. I was like, “Where did this came from?” The author kept throwing unnecessary plots. Wish the author could’ve focused on a main plot so that there will be a main storyline to follow and things could’ve pick up in that way.

I gave this book 2 stars because I appreciate the effort of the author in writing this book and I liked how quick I was able to read this, it didn’t made me feel that I had to stop reading it. But still…. I was rooting for it!
Profile Image for disco.
599 reviews220 followers
April 21, 2018
Grit has a lot going for it. The cover is perf. The characters are all very unique and likeable enough. The “small town syndrome” is contagious, and the story is particularly interesting. The absolute best thing about this novel though, is the atmosphere. Gillian French’s way of describing the setting, the sweltering heat, the berry-raking madness, the feeling of the town’s judgement – sticks with you. At times I felt like I was living in the story, it draws you in so well.

The main character Darcy Prentiss kind of takes one for the team. She isn’t your everyday heroine and she doesn’t want to be. I liked this about her. A lot of pretty terrible shit happened to her... and she just kept looking out for everyone else. It felt like a true representation of what high-school summer life is like.
Profile Image for Imogene Dacanay.
139 reviews64 followers
May 13, 2017
Primarily, this book disappointed me.

The book was a bit different than what I thought. I expected conflicting mysteries, some sort of character insanities and mind-blowing twists and turns.

Instead of having read those, the author just showcased the daily life of the main character. The story revolved around Darcy's journey, her continuous mention about the thing that happened on the fourth of July, the sudden disappearance of her former best friend, the problems that she's currently facing and their preparation for the beauty pageant. Speaking of, I still don't understand the part that the pageant played, what's its concern, why is there a need to make a storyline with a pageant or what message it's trying to convey.

I don't understand a lot of things. The story focused on too many activities at once. Turning the pages, I kept on waiting to be exposed to the real mystery, with hopes of finally reading a surprise revelation. So much is going on with the plot. I struggled looking for the main point of the story.

I admired Darcy Prentiss' character, she's a strong girl who gives importance to her family. A girl full of determination. Someone who doesn't care about what other people say to her. I liked how she handled all the issues about her, the slut-shaming and all. She managed to force a smile and laugh at the insults. I guess I focused more on this kind of real-life issues (sexual assaults) than the mysteries.

Aside from the characters' strong voice, what kept me reading this novel is the writing style of the author. French was able to use figures of speech that sometimes I tend to forget that the confusing plot is pissing me off. I appreciated her style.

Altogether, I think Grit has a lot of potential, and it would be an okay read if the plot wasn't as busy as it was. Just some cleaning up will do.
Profile Image for Natalie Walton.
Author 2 books145 followers
May 28, 2020
Almost reminds me of a much milder, more teen-friendly version of a (and I'm not just saying this because of the shared name) Gillian Flynn book. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Heather~ Nature.books.and.coffee.
678 reviews164 followers
April 15, 2019
This was a good YA mystery. It takes place in a small town,and Gillian does a fantastic job describing the suffocating feel of it.  I loved the atmosphere, and the setting in it self was a big part of this book. I loved the high school summer vibes I got. The characters were well developed and likeable. The main character Darby is one tough cookie, but I really liked her. She has had alot of bad things happen to her and she was still caring about everyone else. This story had 2 mysteries to it ..and they come together nicely.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,037 reviews26 followers
November 18, 2017
For a debut author, Gillian French is going to be one to watch. Darcy is a wild child, a teen who likes to drink and go with boys and she's got a reputation to match. She works hard on hot summer days raking blueberries, competing with the boys and the migrant farm workers. The specter of a missing girl is hanging over the town and the sheriff thinks Darcy knows more than she's saying, plus she's been nominated for Festival Princess, which might just be a mean joke. There's a lot going on, but French knows how to create characters with depth and Darcy, for all of her flaws, has an iron core and strength that readers can admire. Looking forward to French's next book. Review from galley.
Profile Image for Cindy.
229 reviews
February 4, 2017
Wow! Grit is a story most people want to sweep under the rug. Kudos to Gillian French for writing about it.
There are many things going on in this novel but the underling issue is still in the forefront. Darcy is the main character who you can't help but love. She is who she is and she owns it. She has so much love for her cousin who is in special education classes that she will do anything for her........until she can't any more.
I really loved this book. The true, raw emotion, the feeling that this was real, because we all know it happens, the love of three cousins and the one guy who just might be a good guy and not a creep.
Profile Image for Charlotte  Black.
346 reviews20 followers
February 6, 2017
Grit is a solid and intensely sincere story with a dark tale that's rugged and sharp.
The characters are all flawed. Some more so than others.The writer did a great job enabling me to escape to the small fictional town of Sasanoa near the Penobscot river, Maine. A tiny community where everybody knows everybody else's business. Your life and what you make of it gets to be heard by all, young or old.

At the heart of the novel is a missing girl. Rhiannon was Darcy Prentiss' friend up to a year ago. Not necessarily best friends but they used to hang out, chat about guys they wanted to get off with, talk about their school peers, and visit the quarry or the drive-in movie at night to get drunk or smoke some weed. At school Darcy became uncomfortable with Rhiannon when she started asking questions about Darcy's cousin, Nell. Darcy's life spins into a downward spiral the night Rhiannon disappeared. They'd been with Kat, Darcy's other go-to friend but no one knows where Rhiannon went. Or if they do know they're not telling.

It's summer and harvest time. Darcy's working at picking blueberries for a summer job. She needs the money to buy new school clothes and books for her senior year. She lives with her sister, Mags, and her mother. Her father died when she was eleven in a stupid tragic accident leaving them all to fend for themselves. They've done okay but there's not very much money around that doesn't get spent on bills or Darcy's mum's smokes. Nowadays her mum loves nothing more than to smoke and remembers her days with the girl's father. She's somewhat idle. Sometimes food isn't bought. Sometimes there's no milk in the fridge. They all live life near the grindstone and life is tough. In a trailer on the grounds of their house lives Darcy's aunt Libby and her daughter, Nell. Nell is a lovely but simple. She's smart, though, in her own way, beautiful and truthful to the core. But under the surface, and even though she's almost nineteen Nell is treated by her mother like a twelve-year-old. Darcy, Mags and Nell spend most of their time together and Darcy is very protective of her cousin but in a different way than Nell's mum.

Darcy can't escape the shadow of Rhiannon. Even as work starts with the blueberry picking a police car turns up and the rumours start. Have they found Rhiannon? Do they know where she went? Or why she disappeared? Did she go with someone?

Soon the police are at Darcy's home again asking more questions. What happened the night she disappeared? Who was she with?

Rhiannon's disappearance dogs Darcy's day-to-day living like a stone in a shoe. The police won't let it go, they think Darcy is hiding something. Even Darcy's family isn't convinced she's telling the whole truth. And Darcy isn't. But that's the point. She isn't telling anyone what she knows. And because she's keeping this gigantic secret that could rip a huge hole across not just her family but the town also, Darcy buries the secret by 'escaping.' She goes out with her friends who do anything to have fun and just have a laugh out loud. That means making out with boys and a whole lot more. But Darcy will protect Nell at all costs.

From the outset, Grit is a truthful and sometimes painful attempt at making us want to look further below the surface. Not everything is cut-and-dry and crystal clear. Not everything is what it seems. Without the support system guiding Darcy to do the right thing, either by friends or family, she's forced to make decisions that are defeatist at best and head turning at worst.

Gillian French has proven her worth with this dark, deep and gritty tale that twists and turns even until the end

- CBx
Profile Image for Hillari Morgan.
320 reviews37 followers
December 31, 2017
What a perfect title for this text! (just a side note) -- So I know Gillian French's husband, Darren, and my husband knows both Darren and Gillian. My husband also wisely guessed that I would be excited to read a book by a fellow Mainer and one that I have connections with, so he purchased her debut novel for me for Christmas. I was excited to dive into it, although admittedly nervous, as I wasn't sure if this would really be "my" kind of book. It took a bit to get into (for me), but I shouldn't have been nervous because once I did, I was pulled right along.

Gillian French has masterfully created characters that I felt like I knew. Maybe it was because of being from Maine and understanding so many of the references, but I was effortlessly drawn into her world.

It doesn't take long before you can feel the pain that is deep-seeded in Darcy; the confusion and innate protection offered by Margaret; and the quiet acceptance and simplicity in Nell. French took her time in building these characters so that they really meant something to the reader. I greatly appreciated that. It also helped a lot in the story, as at times, the action was muted. The development certainly still flowed, but in a non-confrontational way. Meaning, YA today has become a genre that is fast-paced with deaths smattered throughout the storylines, hard-hitting topics, and nonstop action (we have to play to our audience, right?). Grit definitely had some heavy ideas that hit you hard, but the clincher of it all isn't fully realized until the end, which made the story almost quiet.

While this book offered little for complaints from me, there is one thing that stuck with me through the entirety of the read. The voice that was offered in this text was one that I would have sworn was historical in nature. 60's, 70's, 80's - I could really have applied it to any decade - but I really never would have said it was something that was happening in present time. While I understand that all that was written still occurs yearly in Maine, the tone of the writing and the storyline really placed these events and these characters in the past, at least in my head. While this isn't really a bad thing it is something that offered some slight confusion when French would throw out things like cell phones and the Internet.

There is no denying, especially for a debut novel, that Gillian French is a gifted writer and one that I will pick up again. I am proud to support someone from our small part of the world.
Profile Image for Teresa.
829 reviews12 followers
February 22, 2017
Loved this book....once I picked it up I couldn't put it down. What I loved most about this story was the ties and relationships between the Prentiss family; Darcy, Mags, their mother, aunt and the innocent Nell. All these women are dealing with some sort of sorrow in their life and it makes them all act out in different ways...I found their relationships to be the most intriguing. BUT.....I can't forget the relationship between Jesse and Darcy...that was pretty special as well.
A wonderful, gripping debut novel that has me excited to see what Gillian French will come out with next.
Thanks to HarperCollins for the ARC!
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 18 books2,499 followers
March 24, 2018
I thought this was nicely done as a slowly unfolding mystery with well-paced clues and a nice amount of character development all around. The Gillian Flynn comp lends itself to some psychological thriller expectations that aren't what this book is going for, I think, but for those who like straight-up mysteries with a slower burn, this is a good one.

CW: some very early fatphobia that doesn't notably carry throughout, instances of racism
Profile Image for Karen.
1,419 reviews107 followers
May 8, 2017
wow... I'm definitely the odd person out. I see all the 5 stars but I barely made it through this one.
Grit brings up a lot of issues and then never addresses any of them.
I hung in there for Darcy and the family dynamics, which were wonderfully written but the multiple plot lines went nowhere.
Profile Image for Luke Reynolds.
653 reviews
December 30, 2017
ARC Review (3/6/17, received from Sarah Prineas)

I feel like the odd little duckling out with this one. The premise for Grit sounded like it could have been a winner, and the little positive review hype out right now made me excited, not gonna lie. To me, this seemed like a The Female of the Species situation (even Mindy McGinnis blurbed this), and although I went back and forth on whether to read this constantly, I caved and decided to read it immediately. After all, I'm all for interesting combinations of plot, and the missing ex-best friend, references to sexual assault, dark secrets, blueberry harvesting, and beauty pageant had me intrigued.

Too bad this fell flat on its nose. Grit could have worked incredibly well if it was cleaned up in its plot, especially in the first third. A lot happens, but it doesn't move anything along at all, and despite some great similes in the writing, I couldn't care about anything. The second third was surprisingly in stride, reaching the perfect balance of light and dark (or grit, he he), tension and awesome sisterly love given in spades. Then the ending came along and ruined everything, leaving loose ties and not resolving anything well (it all felt incorrect with the tone of the book). Even despite some genuinely good writing and some great dynamics among characters, Grit attempted too much and fell hard.

So what happened? The plot is the perfect place to start. Darcy Prentiss is spending the summer before senior year raking blueberries, since that has somewhat become a tradition. Her family is made up of her levelheaded older sister Mags, her beautiful and purehearted cousin Nell (who also attends Special Ed classes, which I found surprisingly well touched upon), her smoking mother, and the grouchy Aunt Libby, Nell's mom, who Darcy despises due to her open criticism. All three girls work in the barrens and harvest the small blue fruits that make up so many breakfasts, but there's a lot Darcy hides underneath her hard work and playful banter with her sisters. There's the secret she's been keeping for Nell ever since an event last year broke her cousin's heart. Then there's the reason why Darcy had a falling-out with her best friend, Rhiannon Foss, and what happened the night she disappeared from the small town of Sasanoa, Maine. Those feed her partying and her status as the town "slut," but it also led to a terrifying drunken incident that occurred during last year's Fourth of July that involved the absolutely vile Shea Gaines, who is now going out of his way to torment and harass Darcy to no end.

But that's not all. Darcy receives word from her mother that a telephone message was left to confirm her nomination as a Bay Festival Princess. She'll compete in a pageant with a bunch of other girls at the end of the summer. Darcy is convinced someone is putting her on stage as a joke in order to publicly humiliate her a la Carrie, but she begrudgingly participates as Nell will be alongside her and seems excited about the whole thing. Things get messy from there, with Darcy having to gather courage to be honest about her experiences when Rhiannon's case is reopened, compete with Shea for the top blueberry harvester title to get back at him, but also experiencing maybe more than a fleeting attachment to older harvester Jesse Bouchard. Looks like this summer's gonna be one to remember.

Do you see what I mean by a busy plot? So much is going on in Grit that it's hard to tell what French wanted the main point of the novel to be. It seemed she was trying for a story revolving around Darcy and her experiences while knowing she could crack at any minute, but with all the different threads, not enough time was spent on anything. Also, most of the storylines didn't click together. I could understand Darcy wanting to protect her cousin and the incident she experienced, and I did enjoy the blueberry harvesting bit, but where did the missing girl and the beauty pageant come from? The former felt added to create drama, while the second attempted to add some lightheartedness to the story but felt glossed over when it was mentioned. It actually didn't feel necessary at all, even though it seemed like it was going to be important.

I also was mixed on Darcy as a protagonist. While I enjoyed the dynamic she had with her older sister and cousin (their conversations where they played card games and had fun were the best parts of the book), she wasn't particularly interesting as a character. I felt bad that she was associated with everything bad just because of a thing she did sophomore year that circulated, but she didn't really try to challenge those rumors or her reputation. By the end of the novel, I found her incredibly selfish for trying to escape from her own problems and trying to solve her cousin's when her cousin could do that on her own. Even though the book ended on an incredibly sad yet kind of hopeful note, it made Darcy seem like a savior when that honor should have belonged to Nell, who I ended up really liking because she was precious and didn't deserve all the sad stuff that had happened to her in the past.

Darcy and Jesse's romance didn't do anything for me, either. Jesse was obviously the good guy that was perfect for Darcy, and she has had a crush on him for a while, but when you have their first extended conversation consist of them making out and almost having sex, it looks less like a genuine relationship and more like a heavy dose of insta-affection. Some of their moments were cute (and the dynamic flipped; usually Darcy made the first moves) when they actually took the time to not rub their bodies against each other, but I really didn't care at the end of the day.

The writing was probably the saving grace that kept me going. French was able to craft some interesting and cool similes that I couldn't help but note, and her way of capturing the people that made up Sasanoa was appreciated. I did feel like she brushed over issues that could have been addressed (the very obvious racism towards the migrants from the townspeople that worked on the blueberry farm, ), but for the most part, the gritty (ha) edge the book was going for was somewhat achieved by the second third in at least capturing the absolutely sinister edge between Darcy and Shea (which I lived for) and livening it up with some genuine sisterly love.

But everything fell apart with the ending. Just when I thought I would like this debut, all the plot points came to an abrupt end and felt halfhearted. Everything the book was setting itself up to be just dissolved, and the book ended in a completely different vein from the rest of the story.

Lastly, can we please stop creating manipulative police officers in YA when it's very clear the teens aren't being honest at all? The shtick is old and annoyed me when it was very obviously shoehorned in to add some drama that would eventually force Darcy to be honest.

In the end, Grit was disappointing. The premise had so much potential, but the delivery was uneven in its thirds and the plot felt over-baked. With some cleaning up, I could see this novel working better and actually being good, but from where it stands right now, it's simply okay.

I'm not gonna lie, though: I really do want to see the finished copy for this. I was invested with my notes for this ARC, and I want to see if some of the formatting errors are fixed and if some other things will receive that same treatment. I honestly doubt it, though.
Profile Image for Katy Upperman.
Author 4 books309 followers
March 29, 2018
3 Things Awesome Things About GRIT

1. Unique. I feel like Grit might be a divisive novel among YA readers; it's quite different from most of the books available in the category. That said, I loved it. It's a slow burn mystery set alongside a raw (and really sad) coming of age story, and just as its title conveys, it is gritty. 
2. All the atmosphere. Gillian French has a gift for setting scenes with very specific, vivid details. The summery rural Maine existence MC Darcy experiences is almost palpable.
3. Girl Bonds. Darcy's closest friends are her older sister, Mags, and her beautiful cousin, Nell, and I thought the depiction of the girls' complex trio was very well done. They bicker, but they're also fiercely loyal to one another. Darcy's relationship with her mom is also notable; it was interesting to see how they related to one another in light of their similar personalities and character flaws.
Profile Image for Donna Davis.
1,784 reviews247 followers
May 1, 2017
Sometimes there is so much in a novelist’s heart that their debut novel tries to do too much. Perhaps that is what happened here. I expected to enjoy Grit, and I tried to engage with the story, but every time I thought we were on our way, it turned out we were going somewhere else. Regardless, my thanks go to Edelweiss, Above the Treeline, and Harper Teen for the DRC, which I received free in exchange for this honest review. It is scheduled for release May 16, 2017.

The novel starts out strong. Darcy Prentiss is a rebellious teenager, and the voice of the rural working class of Maine is a resonant one, and it’s what keeps this from becoming a one-star review. The teens of the small town of Sasanoa rake blueberries for summer spending money. The story devolves around the disappearance of Darcy’s best friend, Rhiannon; there are so many side stories and diversions here that I feel as if Rhiannon gets lost in the muddle.

The mores of this tale are to some degree set to the values of the Caucasian middle and working classes of 1950. All teenagers are assumed to be heterosexual by the default of the story line, but there are a lot of novels that still do this, and if it were the only issue here I would have smiled, nodded, and moved on. The plot, however, is partly teen romance, with girls that have crushes on this boy, that one, and the other, and the plot is also partly about our protagonist’s obsession with—wait for it—the local beauty pageant.


I keep turning the pages, waiting for this story to either become a real mystery, or to take us somewhere important. There are some tense moments in which the local kids are forbidden to mix with the migrant workers; immigration is a huge issue right now in the USA, and so my pulse beat a bit quicker as I waited to see where French would take this thread. I could happily forget all about the missing-or-dead ex-pal Rhiannon if some sort of social justice theme was in the offing. Instead, this aspect of the story leads nowhere and is abandoned. I am sad.

During a conversation that Darcy overhears between her mother and aunt another red-hot issue is raised and again, my heart beats quicker. The aunt refers to Darcy’s clothing and says,

"'She's asking for it. Every time she walks out that door in those skimpy little shorts with her shirt cut way down to here, she's asking for it.'"

I think perhaps this is where things will start to move, perhaps using the narrative to explore body image issues among teenagers along with stereotypes and the slut-shaming that sometimes causes girls to hate themselves and sometimes hurt themselves, or perhaps to look at sexual assault and the way that society enables sexual violence by blaming the victims. But once again, the opportunity is squandered.

Add to this strange, wandering plot some nasty stereotypes about fat women and we end up with a story more likely to do harm than good, although there is really no message here powerful enough to do much of anything. We find our way back to Rhiannon eventually, but it’s a waste because the momentum has been lost. When the story is finally over, I am delighted to be finished with it.

In the end, we have a resonant setting with dubious characters to populate it and a plot that has too many dead ends to gain momentum. Clear focus and assistance from a high profile editor might make this story a winner, but as it stands now, I cannot recommend it.
Profile Image for S.M. Parker.
Author 4 books187 followers
November 6, 2017
Gillian French stuns in this fierce contemporary set amid rural poverty and prejudice. Toward the end of the novel, Hunt, my favorite close-lipped, one-word, sees-all character (no spoilers) tells the main character, “You’re funny and you got some grit, which ought to count for more than it does.” And it should. French explores all the ways in which society condemns a girl for having curves, opinions, and desires. With a mystery at its heart, GRIT peels back the layers of a dysfunctional patriarchy (duh) and shines a light on a few strong women I flat out fell in love with. There is a gorgeously real and flawed romance, sisterly bonds, the deep running pride of motherhood, loss and aspirations. Darcy Prentiss might think she lives a small life while raking blueberry fields and riding in trucks with boys, but she’s the every girl—trying to figure all her shit out. I highly recommend French’s book, but only if you’re a fan of supremely well-drawn characters, a few hundred pages you’ll want to call home…and grit.
Profile Image for Bookworm LLC.
730 reviews23 followers
February 9, 2017
Wow! Grit is a story most people want to sweep under the rug. Kudos to Gillian French for writing about it.
There are many things going on in this novel but the underling issue is still in the forefront. Darcy is the main character who you can't help but love. She is who she is and she owns it. She has so much love for her cousin who is in special education classes that she will do anything for her........until she can't any more.
I really loved this book. The true, raw emotion, the feeling that this was real, because we all know it happens, the love of three cousins and the one guy who just might be a good guy and not a creep.
Profile Image for Katharina.
510 reviews89 followers
December 22, 2016
I liked this SO much more than I expected to! Raw and fierce style, great and varied characters, complex female friendships and family relationships.
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,189 reviews1,020 followers
May 8, 2017
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

This book was a bit different than I expected. I don't know what I expected exactly, but something a little more thriller-like, a little more mysterious. But really, this is mostly a story of Darcy's journey, and the obstacles she has to overcome.

I liked how strong Darcy was, and how important family was to her, too. But sometimes I wasn't really connecting to her, which was tough, but I liked her determination a lot. Her family was extremely close- her aunt and cousin even living on the same land. And sometimes that made for some family troubles, but they were fiercely protective of each other, which I really liked.

The story follows Darcy through a difficult summer. She's working a very hard, physically laborious job, all while trying to overcome some really nasty and unfair rumors. There is a lot of slut-shaming being thrown Darcy's way, and it is not okay. Then there's the disappearance of a former friend, and the town is quite focused on that, of course.

And then... there's a beauty pageant. And honestly, I am not really even sure why this needs to be a thing? Maybe it is so we can see that Nell is capable of things that her mom refuses to let her do? But as a side character, who the reader already knows is capable, I don't see how this changes anything. Meanwhile, at work and socially, Darcy is facing harassment from a horrible dude. It was just... a lot of different stuff going on, and I kind of wished it was whittled down just a bit.

Bottom Line: I liked that Darcy was given a chance to change and grow and discover, but I don't know that she needed all these storylines in which to do so. Had one or two been cut out, the focus on the others probably would have made me a bit more connected to the book.

*Copy provided for review
Profile Image for Annie ⚜️.
501 reviews16 followers
December 18, 2018
I don't think I realized this was YA. I really think I have to be in the mood to really appreciate these.

I'm not sure how I feel about this yet. One thing I know is god I hate how these girls devalue themselves. It's so sad and scary and I just want to hug them and say oh honey, you are worth so much more.

This story is poignant and full of interesting and well painted characters. Each one made me want to know more about them - the mom, the landlord, the aunt, the friends, the sisters. Makes me wonder if there might even be more stories coming.
Profile Image for Rose.
1,879 reviews1,065 followers
July 5, 2019
Review to come soon. I felt the same about this book that I did about French's other novel - there's a good story here, but it meanders far too much to stick as a compelling mystery. I felt myself drifting focus quite a bit during my read of the novel though curious to see how it would resolve. There were moments I could get into the character's head and feel her struggle, but too many times the narrative veered off and cut its own tension. 2.5 stars overall.
Profile Image for Hannah R..
20 reviews3 followers
April 10, 2018
I really enjoyed this book, it was very interesting. I couldn't put this book down, it was such a good book but the ending was a huge let down
Profile Image for Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Books).
518 reviews345 followers
May 18, 2017
Different than I was expecting, but I still liked it. Darcy was a character I won't be forgetting anytime soon. She was head-strong, tough, and fearless. It wasn't really as thrillery or mysteryful as I wanted, but had a cool atmosphere about it. Definitely will read more from this author!

I've been interested in this book ever since I first heard about it. I mean, it has all the ingredients that make this something I would like: "town slut" issues- CHECK, secrets- CHECK, beauty queen pageant- CHECK, a missing girl/murder mystery- CHECK.

The synopsis mis-led me a little though, because while I was expecting this to be a mystery/suspense book, it was more a coming-of-age/character study book. Which, I'm fine with, but I was hoping the mystery aspect was bigger.

So let's talk about what I liked about this book because I did really like it.

The Atmosphere. I loved reading about this small, dusty, agricultural town in Maine. It was interesting to read about these girls who were farming for the summer!! I'm sure there are lots of people who do this, but I've never really read about any of them, so points for being different!!

Darcy. As main characters go, Darcy ranks up there with some of my very favorites. She's smart and tough and fearless. I loved the relationships that she had with her sister and cousin (they were like the 3 musketeers), and the complicated relationship she had with her mom and aunt. It felt real.

So much of this book was about Darcy dealing with her past. The past she had with the missing girl, the past she's had with guys, and the past her dad left her. I liked that she was a wild card-- you never knew which direction she was going to head in, and I liked that she stuck to her guns. Darcy is not going to change who she is because you don't like her. She's unapologetic about that-- and I loved that about her.

Nell was also a stand-out character. She was portrayed as innocent and sweet-- a girl that has a learning disability and is sheltered and watched over. I knew she had more in her than that, and I was glad I wasn't wrong. I think Nell is going to have a lot of life to live, and I think she's going to live it-- someday...

The romance was my least favorite part. I didn't really "get" the appeal of Jesse. He was just a guy, and was pretty much just there so we could see how bad the other guys talked about Darcy. There wasn't anything wrong with the romance, I just wasn't wowed by it.

OVERALL: It wasn't as mysteryful as I was hoping for, but that turned out to be not a problem. The atmosphere and coming-of-age story was more than enough to hold my interest. I definitely recommend, and I'll definitely be reading more from Gillian French!!

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