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Review: Saving Grace by Ann Grant

If you heard that Saving Grace by Ann Grant was the story of a perfectionist who tanks after a debilitating fall and ends up leaving her husband and kids, you might think you didn’t want to read that story.  You’d be making a big mistake.  With humor, insight into the human spirit and, well, grace, Ann Grant tells a captivating tale of love, frustration, anxiety, and (no spoilers here) an attempt at recovery.

Grace and her husband, Rob, have been married almost ten years and have two sons and a daughter.  She’s a high-earning corporate lawyer and he is a phys ed teacher and coach.  The days leading up to Grace’s fall are hectic ones, likely no different from any others.  Work, hockey practice, ballet, hockey games, cooking, cleaning, and friends.  Grace is at the top of her game professionally and she and Rob seem to have designed a life they love.  The only hint that their lives have ‘issues’ are a couple mentions of credit card debt and her occasional sense of having to ‘do it all.’

But, as the twelve-step programs tell you, you can’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.  Grace’s insides are in a knot, and a broken arm and ribs injure her psyche as much as her body.  Or maybe they don’t.  Maybe those internal knots were already frayed.

Saving Grace takes you into the mind of an anxious woman who comes to wallow in her pain and believes the only way out is to end her marriage.  You root for her, but come on, wouldn’t a good kick in the pants get her to see things aren’t so bad?  Wait, you can’t, she’s been hurt.  So you take the roller coaster ride with Grace and Rob and watch the hurt their children feel and see some friends peel away.

What’s missing from this discussion of Saving Grace?  First, a reliance on painkillers that the reader sees coming, but Grace does not.  Lots of good sex.  And a lot of thoughts about good sex and then…no interest in sex.  How can a woman who seems to have it all fall so much further than down a flight of steps?

Grace ultimately begins a shaky path toward recovery only because her company’s short-term disability insurance won’t keep paying even the paltry sum it does (remember those credit card bills) unless she enters an intensive rehab program that deals with physical and emotional health.  She’s groaning every step of the way, convinced everyone else needs to get with her program, and it’s a long time before there is an inkling that she can be successful.  You’ll need to read the book to learn if she is.

You might be tempted to say Grace’s story is not realistic.  Her parents let her move back in and her dad gives her spending money.  Her best friend stays loyal, she has good insurance, and her employer does not dump her.  Rob seems to still love her.  It might not be someone else’s world, but it is Grace’s, and there is a sense that she has led a life that deserves the support.  Will it be enough?

Saving Grace is told from Grace’s point of view, but Grant deftly lets her readers know the pain and humor of the other adults — especially Rob, her mother, and her best friend.  You do get a sense of the dismay and sadness her children feel, but it’s not their story.  If readers are fortunate, perhaps Grant will one day tell their tale.

In the meantime, for a look at the extent that internalizing worries affects Grace’s life and all around her, read Saving Grace by Ann Grant.  You’ll laugh and cry, and you might want to read some of those sex scenes in private.  I give Saving Grace five stars.

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