Echoes of Grace

By The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Graciela—Grace—carries a don (gift) from her mother’s side of the family in being able to involuntarily experience “echoes” of people and past events, a skill that too often pulls her attention away from the real world. She’s having a particularly rough morning, distracted by echoes and her deteriorating relationship with her sister, when her beloved nephew, whom she was caring for, wanders into the street and is struck by a car. The trauma tips her into memories of a horrific sexual assault, compounding her grief and stirring up thoughts of her mother’s brutal murder twelve years ago. As in her Summer of the Mariposas (BCCB 12/12), McCall’s characters seek answers and understanding by journeying across the border to Mexico to interrogate their familial past. Generations of internalized misogyny and victim-blaming amplify the trauma of assault here, as Grace’s maternal grandmother shifts between solicitude and slut-shaming, and her paternal grandmother, while consistently honest, can also be cruel. Many readers will recognize the social rhetoric that holds women and girls responsible for the violations enacted on them by others, and even Grace judges her sister’s serial dating as a moral flaw. If Grace’s feelings for new neighbor Daniel prompt a somewhat unrealistic confrontation and sudden resolution with the echoes that have been haunting her, there is still satisfaction in the sisters’ reconciliation, the revelation of their mother’s past, and the revenge enacted on her murderer. Though the past continues to haunt Grace’s present, her hope steadily marches into the future. Includes an author’s note and resources page.