Morris Gleitzman is bound to be in danger of being sent to the hot place downstairs for writing Grace. I’m concerned for his safety. His lovely new (for the UK) book Grace deals with religious fanatics, and this is never a safe topic.
This is a book about fathers. Grace has a lovely father. Her mum also has a father, albeit not quite so wonderful. There is an outsider father (i.e. not-the-right-religion kind) and then there is the father from upstairs, who is made lovelier than ever by young Grace, who must surely be a little miracle in herself.
Small religious sects are on the agenda in the book Grace, except the girl Grace doesn’t know this, because she has only ever lived within her small and exclusive group. They are the only Christians (just over 11,000 of them) who will go to heaven. At least they are not beset by doubts. I’ll say that for them.
Grace’s 4-year-old brothers Mark and Luke often play at smiting each other. Their mum is the daughter of a church elder and the sister of another. Her husband tries his very best, but whereas that makes him a tremendously good dad, he’s a failure in the eyes of the church.
Grace is the loveliest of girls, and the fact that she often misunderstands things is made up for by the fact that she thinks some really sensible thoughts as well. And she has little chats with God. I expect God loves her very much, but he might not be the one that Grace’s grandfather knows.
‘And lo, before I could work out a way of solving our family’s tribulations, things came to pass that made the problem even worse.’
Jonah and Daniel both have parts in the plot, when Grace tries her best to make everything the same as it was, before bad stuff happened. She truly loves everyone, except maybe Mr Gosper, but even for him she thinks nicer thoughts than he deserves. As her eyes open she learns that not everyone is as good and as loving as she had supposed.
So it came to pass that Grace learns outsiders are not all bad. And you can survive eating ice cream without microwaving it first.