Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Finding Grace, by Alyssa Brugman

Grace had a brain injury. That's just how she was.
She spent a lot of time sitting in her leather wing-backed chair just staring out the window. I didn't really know what was happening inside her head and I didn't really think about it.
I was eighteen and knew everything. Well, not everything, but I did know a great deal about a great many things. For example, I knew that time healed most wounds and those that it didn't you simply got used to.
That was before I met Grace or Mr Alistair Preston.

Rachel, just after finishing high school, gets a job as a live-in carer for a woman named Grace, who has an acquired brain injury. Grace can walk and eat, but Rachel has to make sure she goes to the loo, has to put her to bed and make sure she doesn't hurt herself.

At first Grace scares Rachel, with her blank stare, slack lips and drool, but soon Rachel comes to realise there is still someone in there, that Grace hasn't disappeared completely. It's so beautiful, every time I read this, to watch Rachel learn and question herself and her understanding of the world.
Mr Preston is Grace's lawyer, he's the one who picked Rachel. When he comes around he speaks to Grace lovingly, buys her shoes and very good wine - he doesn't treat her like everyone else does. His dedication and guilt and grief is heartbreaking.
Rachel is hilarious. She sings out loud as she walks down the street, uses a snorkel in her car because the windows hardly open and the radiator blows coolant in through the vents, she blushes horribly (frack - her attempts to hide the blush from the handsome boy she meets in her first uni lecture - I couldn't laugh enough!) and has an extremely unique perspective. I love her.

Mama Bear sent me this the year after I finished school, when I was working in Scotland, and it was so wonderful that I couldn't bear to part with it and it became part of the massive haul I brought with me when I came back. I don't remember when I met Alyssa Brugman, but I must have, and I also must have told her that story.

If you have not yet read this remarkable novel, then shame on you. Get thee to a library (or a bookshop). It has a very pretty new cover, which looks like this:

published by Allen&Unwin in 2006


  1. wow - great review! I have not read. I am shamed! I will get thee to a library or some such depository of things bookish.

  2. Oh ~ it;s been a while since I read this one but I so agree with your thoughts. She's a gorgeous and funny writer. And thank god for the new cover ~ the old one didn't exactly appeal to me... (no offence, haha)

  3. simmone - huzzah!

    nomes - time for a reread! the new cover is pretty, but in a kind of white-bread way...i think maybe too stylised or bit cheesy? i like the funky old one better, for me at least.

  4. Hello Kate!
    I have just finished reading this book and loved every page. :-)
    Alyssa Brugman is such a talented writer and I will be reading more of her book.
    Loved your review!! Oh and I have the book with the original cover which I think is fabulous.

    1. Hello Peggy! I'm sorry for the late reply to your comment. I'm so so glad you loved this book and then went out onto the internets to talk about it! Warms my hearts cockles. All the best!

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's one of those books I wished would go on and on, as I loved Rachel's character and wanted to know what was going to happen the next day and the next.... I highly recommend this smart, funny and touching read.

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