Grit, Gillian French: Book Review

When rumors overpower the truth.

grit gillian french book reviewHarper Teen / Gillian French
Grit Book Cover Grit
Gillian French
Young Adult
Harper Teen

His presence beside me is like heat, like weight, something I’ve carried around on my back too long.

It’s summer in rural Maine; when seventeen-year-old Darcy Prentiss isn’t raking berries with her sister, Mags, and cousin, Nell, during the day, she’s drinking and swimming with the boys in the quarry by night. She knows how to have a good time, just like anyone else, but when you’ve been designated the town slut, every move you make seems to further solidify your “trashy girl” reputation.

But the fun is what’s been keeping Darcy’s mind off the things she can’t forget: a disturbing secret she shares with Nell, the mysterious disappearance of her ex-best friend, and that hazy Fourth of July party that ended with Darcy drunk, on her back, wondering how she let it get this far.

Then someone in town anonymously nominates Darcy to be in the running for Bay Festival Princess—a cruel, almost laughable gesture that can only be the work of someone with a score to settle. Everything Darcy has been trying to keep down comes bubbling to the surface in ways she wasn’t prepared to handle…and isn’t sure if she can.

This review contains quotes from the novel.

*Special thanks to Harper Teen for allowing us to read Gillian French’s Grit.

At the center of Gillian French‘s debut novel, Grit, lies a girl who is left to confront her dark truths.

Darcy Prentiss is enjoying as much as she can during a summer in Maine. During the day, she is raking berries with her sister and cousin. At night though she is drinking and swimming with the boys. But she is considered the town slut because of her extracurricular activities. It doesn’t help that she is spending so much time drinking with the boys in a two-piece swimsuit either. But she would rather have a good time than a boring night doing something else.

Darcy has a lot of rumors circulating about her. Whether they are connected to her relationships with boys, or how late she stays out at night, or about the countless lies she’s told. But Darcy has secrets deep down that no one would ever believe, and some of the hidden details concern her cousin, Nell, and also the fight she had with her missing ex-best friend, Rhiannon. Darcy knows something about the disappearance, but will not tell the authorities or her parents because the secrets she hides could ruin everything for her. Darcy struggles with this throughout the book because she knows something that could help the police find her friend, but she would rather keep what she knows as a secret. And that’s why she goes out so much with the boys and drinks so much because she wants to forget everything that has happened.

“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.”

-excerpt from Gillian French’s Grit

After all of this went down, she is nominated for Bay Festival Princess by someone who is wanting revenge on her. The revenge has something to do with her knowledge of the disappearance of Rhiannon. Rhiannon knew a lot of details about Darcy’s cousin Nell, and Darcy didn’t appreciate that. Also, Darcy was with Rhiannon the night she went missing, so Darcy is stuck right in the middle of this investigation. Now someone knows of her involvement.

French’s debut was nothing I could expect. It was mysterious, dark and raw. Darcy was a character I could get behind because I know what it’s like to have rumors said about you. But Darcy was a strong protagonist that knew the truth about herself. She also had a lot going on but was able to deal with it throughout the novel. Also, the ending is completely satisfying. It was everything I wanted from this novel. I recommend this to anyone who loves a thriller young adult novel. Or anyone who just wants to read a mystery that will keep you up late into the night until you finish it completely.

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Jessica Duffield
the authorJessica Duffield
Contributing Writer
I am a junior in college. Books are my passion and I hope to work in book publishing once I graduate from journalism school.