Grace Grows - Shelle Sumners
I won this in a First Reads Giveaway.

Summary:
I liked this book. It's a good solid romance and coming of age story. It's a fun, romanticized love story that feels glossy . It's a quick read, with a slow build up. It didn't really grip me to keep reading straight through, I could put it down and pick it up with ease, but at the same time I was entertained and wanted to finish it. It obvious how the story is going to go. It wasn't surprising or shocking or different. Like a Jodie Picoult novel without the suspense or tension. It's a slow running story about a couple and their love.

If you like romance or contemporary fiction, I'd recommend this book. I'm glad I read it, it was enjoyable. It has it's pros and cons, though if you're a fan of this genre I don't doubt you'll like this book.

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Good Things:

---Grace's voice - It comes through loud and clear. The narration really feels like Grace writing this book and you do get to know her very well through it. It's very convincing. Once you get to the end, you'll wonder about the author really being Grace or not. Lots of pop culture references from songs, books, movies, celebrities. I like how the format varied to tell the story accurately with IM and texts. I like how things are described and talked about in the book. The feel, and tone of the book was well done and fit perfectly.

---Style – Okay it's totally superficial and shallow I know but I love the cover and style of this book. I think that it is important for how the reader looks at a book initially with expectations and set up. You can't judge a book by its cover, but the cover is the first impression of a book and you know what they say about first impressions. I also really liked the separations of seasons with the shading, the chapter titles, style etc. It gives this awesome feel to the book and I think it really matches up with Grace's style and type. After all, wouldn't Grace the copy editor pay attention and care about such things? It's a beautiful book. I also really love the advanced reader's copy cover and am glad I got this copy since I'm not all that in love with the cover on the release book. (Not that it's a bad cover I just really prefer the advanced copy cover and I think that the advanced reader copy cover fits the book better.)

---Setting - It's places and people feel authentic. It's set in New York and unlike other books, you do see multiculturalism. There's a varied background of character from different religions, races, and orientations. The characters weren't stereotypes or just thrown in as tokens. It was nice to see a book set in New York, which is so diverse, really show how diverse it is. Too often in books or TV, the only main characters you see are white and there's little interaction with different people. Think how white washed the show Friends was. The only poor characters you see though just moved to New York and don't remain struggling for long. Of course, Grace is very well off with a good support system so it's really unsurprising and works out fine that way.

---Songs - The lyrics for the songs are actually included instead of the common trope of “Take Our Word For It”. There's even recorded versions of the songs on the author's website. That's a nice refreshing change and it does help the story. How else am I supposed to know why everyone is going gaga over the songs Ty is writing for Grace? It does help to understand the story from Ty's blow up, Ty's character in general and Ty's love for Grace.

---Characters – Now I'm a sucker for characters, from character driven stories to character progression. The characters were in general well done, thought out and authentic. For instance, Grace's Mom really makes sense as a character, her personality of staying strictly in control and neat to stay risen above the poverty that they went through before, the way she acts towards love and marriage due to her experiences.

---From my friends in the publishing industry (specifically text books) I can verify those stories in the beginning were true. There's a huge issue with Texas being a huge buyer of textbooks and altering them to be terrible, leaving important things out and being just plain wrong.


Cons

---As mentioned above I had some issues with characters which I will go into later due to spoilers and it being simply how I felt about them with regards to Grace's character progression and Ty's behavior in the beginning especially.

---The revel of that Grace is in love just felt a bit off, it didn't feel like there was much on Grace's side of the romance besides liking his smile. But liking someone's smile doesn't mean love. Maybe we were suppose to pick up on subtle clues like her lying about things to understand it? ( I don't think this is a spoiler since all the blurbs talk about Grace, Ty and love. I think I kept it general enough to work. )There were some other issues I had, though that information I will include below due to spoilers.

---There were some facts that didn't really add up or make sense to me. Like how does Grace's mom make enough money for the McMansion, and her expense tastes as a county prosecutor in New Jersey?

---There are several things very...romanticized, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I just had different expectations due to the quote on the cover saying “ a new take on the whole opposites attract approach to love...and sex.” In reality the book, had standard romanticized idealized perfect sex, the love story had followed the common tropes, and the book in general had implausible moments. It's glossy. It's perfection. It's a happy Lifetime movie. The worst thing in Grace's world, is Grace. The worst thing to happen in Grace's world, is Grace. No financial worries. No employment worries. Just love. Again, not a bad thing when you want to watch a Lifetime movie.
-----The only thing I could think of that would qualify for a new approach on sex in this book, is that the author talks about sex during pregnancy, husbands actually being attracted to their pregnant wives and the question of not just the newborn drinking the breast milk from the tap. Of course, the sex that got her pregnant was idealized perfection. No talk about awkward moments, or noises, or bumps, or condom issues or uncoordinated. It was multiple orgasms every time, having sex multiple times a day, for several days in a row. The sex while pregnant and after pregnancy was still the same perfection. It was briefly mentioned in the end how glad Grace was to not have a big belly in between them awkwardly, though we never got to see any awkwardness. Ever. In Sex. At least their friendship had awkward conversations and lulls, though it was done in a sweet cutesie way.
-----Want to do a new take on sex? What about the About 75 percent of all women never reach orgasm from intercourse alone -- that is without the extra help of sex toys, hands or tongue. Only a percentage of women who can have orgasms, only a percentage can have multiple orgasms. In fact, 10 to 15 percent of women never climax under any circumstances. Why not a story dealing with those kind of troubles, which is the reality for the vast majority of people though hardly ever mentioned in books like this. Can we get a love story that's cute, funny, tender and realistic? Of course, this is a generic complaint about books in this genre I have, it often gets annoying when book after book ignores reality. -(And I say this has a huge fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal fan)



Characters.
It's just the coming of age happens when Grace is nearly 30. It is a bit grating how truly naive Grace is considering where she lives and how old she is. I don't have a problem with her not swearing, that's just some people's preference. Grace just hides being doing everything strictly perfect and just ignores and avoids anything that is harmful, painful or just doesn't fit with her life and world view. Now Ty was surely meant to come off as the perfect rock star, which he did become later on.

However, with his creepy, bugging, not respecting boundaries behavior in the beginning of the book, I was hard pressed to like him. I really wanted Grace to kick him in the balls and run away. Ty set off alarm bells for me, it really could have gone very badly. Ty just slid around boundaries. He purposefully used tactics to manipulate Grace into doing things, like a Pick Up Artist. It completely followed the Dogged Nice Guy trope. That bugged me because I sincerely hate that trope. It's grating that nobody respects when a woman says no, because apparently the man knows her better and she should just listen to him, after all he's such a nice guy. Too often that cute little puppy dog following you around, begging you, slobbering all over you, uses his fangs on you. That's why so many women are wary and cautious. We can't tell if you're going to bite or not, so behaviors like Ty's just sounds off alarms. It really did make me not want Ty around. Don't be that guy. Learn to respect boundaries .

I liked him more towards the end, but in the same way you like the cute puppies on store display. (Safely behind the glass, of course) Yeah, they look all cute and perfect, you just know though there's more to the story. It's hard to love perfection, it's unbelievable and it makes you feel inadequate. I personally don't buy Ty. Why do you think most dog stories include how much the dogs mess up and drive you up the wall? The worse thing Ty did was show up late and not replace his phone right away, which is used a plot point.


Grace's progression bugged me a bit. In the end, it was mostly the people around her forcing her into things and into change. It was hardly her decisions, except for her job, keeping the baby and what last name she was taking on her marriage license. So it felt forced upon her, it had to be done for her family, for the story but Grace was a little child dragging her feet until the last moment. She just cried and ran from everything. Whenever she did make a decision to change, her life was just made easy by her family. She just fought herself making herself miserable until everyone around her made it all perfect again. She hated her job, and bam! - she gets a new one easily. She's good at her new job and her co-workers love her. She decides to leave her fiance, Steven, and everyone even Steven makes it a breezes for her to move on. She gets pregnant, decides to keep the baby and she, again, breezes through it because of the people around her. She's very privileged and lucky, with such a support system. The main issues are she makes herself miserable and can't make her own choices. Her family told Ty about the pregnancy. Her friend move Ty in with them. Her family got the wedding planned and rolling so Grace rolled with it. There aren't any real issues in Grace's world. Her family makes everything perfect. Ty is perfect. She doesn't think she's good enough, even though she tries, so she cries until her family makes it perfect. She's the naive spoiled child, even in the end, it doesn't feel like she changed much.

The big character progression can be summed up as Grace learns to not carry everything in Big Green and Ty learns to be on time for appointments.


Pregnancy & Childbirth

---Did Grace really read about pregnancy and infants? She kept saying that the baby was starving the firs 5 days until her milk came in but that's not true. The baby gets colostrum in small enough amounts for them and the baby isn't starving.

---I don't buy how sudden and visible the milk came in, squirting across the room. That just seemed like slapped together scene from a cheesy stupid movie. My experience was very different so the scene felt weird to me. Thought I have to admit the book did talk about nipple pain, so breast feeding wasn't completely idealized and glossed over.

---So she's over due. She's miserable. She, being the pregnant woman, irrationally decides to go to the couple's special place. Oh, she goes to their special place and of course, it causes her to go into labor. Yep, totally romantic perfect moment that has a fine place in this book, but not in reality. She keeps saying she has time since it's her first birth but what do you know, it happens quickly. Then she just out of the blue decides to have the child in a bath tub of water, even though she's been planning for a hospital. Yes, everything is fine. Yes, that's a fine choice. I don't like however, how its put up with “Of course natural is better, Grace just needed to follow her heart.” There's nothing wrong with having your child in a hospital and things can go wrong with home birth. That's why you need a heath professional to be there if shit hits the fan.

---Then during the birth how the hell did Ty know about the umbilical cord and having to remove it? One moment he's the stupid Panicky Father, the next he's making sure his son doesn't get strangled by the umbilical cord with ease. There were plenty of things glossed over, but at least the author brought up the urge to shit when in labor, how dirty that water must have been, the wait for breast milk to come in, and the placenta. No mention of hemorrhoids, or the bleeding, or stretch marks, or the lack of control peeing after birth.



Some Tropes in the Book Not Mentioned Earlier: (Not an exhaustive list)

Follows the Rule of Romantic well. Including (but not limited to)
---The Power of Love
---GazeHeld Gaze
---The Love Slap of Epiphany

--The Glamorous Single Mother
--Heartwarming Moments
For pregnancy and infants:
--- Lamaze Class
---A Baby Makes Everything Better
---What If The Baby Is Like Me
--- Paniky Expenctant Father