Unlike some of the romance fiction often marketed toward teenage women, Gathering Grace asks some very tough questions about life and family relationships. For example:
"What happens when you lose a member of your family?"
The challenging answer is, "you learn to live again." It is just plain difficult. From the very beginning of the story, we see the characters struggle with loss. Grace has lost her mother and grandfather; Ruth has lost daughter and husband. Movies that they would watch, food they order at their favorite restaurant - all of the routines and rituals of daily life have been disrupted. Grace and Ruth, along with the other characters whose lives are touched by these events, have to grow into living a wildly different life than either of them could have imagined.
"What happens when someone is different?"
Gathering Grace explicitly compares the fictional problem of having a superpower to the very real problem that many people face of having a non-traditional sexual identity. In the story, people who reveal that they have such Powers are persecuted, whisked away to be "healed," and are treated as a threat by the general population. When Ruth (one of Grace's grandmothers) confronts this fear directly, she puts herself in great peril. Ruth is well respected and financially secure; how much worse is it for a teenager with a Power? How would it be for a homeless, autistic child, like Kamikaze? Superpowers exist across gender and ethnicity and age; how they are expressed by the person and accepted by the community are sources of real conflict.
Using her experience as a classroom teacher, Victoria has developed activities in the context of Gathering Grace that encourage students into more engaging writing. However, she taught science, not English! Recommendations and additional activities to share are eagerly accepted.
For more information on how teachers could use this book Go to the author's website about Gathering Grace.