A Deep Place of Grace


Children - Preteen
258 Pages
Reviewed on 10/28/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

A Deep Place of Grace by Nancy Dort Rossow is a delightful pre-teen/young adult novel that traverses the topics of diversity, bullying, self-confidence, courage, and fear. Neeley Mahoney is a twelve-year-old girl in the deeply conservative city of Lincoln, Nebraska at the end of the 1950s. She just wants what every young teenager desires; to be liked, to fit in, to be normal but Neeley was slightly different from her peers. Already “blessed” with the gift of precognition, a near-death experience at their family’s lakeside cottage changes her life forever. She becomes aware of her guardian angel, Sera, who she is able to call on whenever she needs advice and comfort. When a black family moves into their exclusively white neighborhood in Lincoln, Neeley has to come to terms with the civil rights struggle and the issues of racism and social justice sweeping across America at the start of the 1960s. Neeley is drawn to Charlotte as a friend but realizes that as the only black girl at Neeley’s exclusively white school, Charlotte is going to be in for a rough ride. Can Neeley maintain her friendship with her current tight group of friends whilst still including Charlotte in her inner circle? Will Neeley have the courage to stand up for her friend when others treat her badly just because of the color of her skin? Neeley’s character and the strength of her convictions are going to be put to the test in this taut social drama at a time of immense social change.

A Deep Place of Grace is the perfect read for young people looking back into a tumultuous time in American history. Author Nancy Dort Rossow has created a scenario that even rings true today, as politicians try to scare white voters with stories of their neighborhoods being overrun by hordes of black mobs. She has drawn a lead character in Neeley that is likable, moral, and extremely easy to recognize and empathize with. Yet she is deeply troubled not only by her own gift of precognition but also by her overwhelming fear of what others might think of her and her actions, especially if she is seen to stand up for her black friend or act on the warnings she receives via her visions. I suspect the fact that the author has spent her life in the field of child psychology and counseling has given her such a deft touch in creating these realistic and highly believable characters and story arcs but the tale she has woven is as real and heartwarming as it is simple. The story was too short for my liking but that is simply because I was so invested in it and its participants. I wanted it to go on and find out what happened to these girls as they grew up, went to high school, and beyond. This is a tribute to the skill of the author and I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Young people will love it but even as many years away from young adulthood as I am, I truly loved it and that’s the highest compliment one can pay any author.

Susan Sewell

After reviving from a drowning incident, a pre-teen girl experiences visions and visits from her guardian angel in the young adult novel, A Deep Place of Grace by Nancy Dort Rossow. In the summer of her thirteenth birthday, Neeley Mahoney's whole world changes. Soon after Neeley and her family arrive at their summer cabin on the lake, Neeley drowns in the lake. Hovering on the outskirts of heaven, her guardian angel Sera sends her back to her body. When Neeley awakens in the hospital, she can still see and communicate with Sera. When she returns to the family cabin, Neeley begins having ominous feelings associated with visions of calamities. Scared and unsure of what to do, Neeley has a continual sick feeling in her stomach. As the premonitions increase, Neeley keeps her new abilities secret, causing her anxiety and fear to grow. Can Neeley learn to face her fears? Will she find a way to use her gifts to help others?

Thought-provoking and profound, A Deep Place of Grace by Nancy Dort Rossow is a poignant historical novel that addresses an adolescent's introduction to bigotry. Set in 1960, it is an astounding account of a girl's journey of accepting herself despite the consequences and confronting her destiny with courage. Skillfully written, it is a captivating tale that portrays the immoral and narrow-minded aspects of human nature that upright and moral citizens, even children, had to deal with in mid-twentieth century society. With a superb storyline and a relatable protagonist, it is an incredible story that I recommend to everyone from the ages of twelve all the way to a hundred who enjoy historical era novels that include a touch of the paranormal.

Lesley Jones

In July 1960, when vacationing with her parents and siblings in Nebraska, Neeley Mahoney falls into a nearby lake. The traumatic experience would be life-changing and introduce her to Sera, a Guardian Angel. Neeley now has extraordinary abilities that make her sensitive to others' feelings. This newly acquired power overwhelms the teenager and she decides to keep her abilities a secret from everyone. At a time of the Civil Rights Movement and as racial tensions build, Neeley soon discovers the harsh reality of racism when a black family called the Franklins move into the all-white neighborhood. The events that follow make Neeley realize that she didn't know those close to her as well as she thought. As Neeley longs for answers, Sera is always at hand to offer guidance. But Neeley just wants to return to her normal teenage life and remove the dark and disturbing visions that haunt her. In A Deep Place Of Grace by Nancy Dort Rossow, Neeley discovers the true meaning of courage and this inspires her to reveal her secret, but will she be believed?

From the first paragraph, A Deep Place Of Grace by Nancy Dort Rossow will sweep you up into the world of Neeley and her family. The descriptive narrative was vivid and colorful, with great attention given to the smallest of details. I loved the authentic dialogue between Neeley and her friends and family. The squabbles with her siblings and disagreements with her parents were extremely believable. The relationships between the characters were developed really well as the story progressed, especially Granny Mae and Neeley. The plot has some great twists which make you ponder about the complexities of human behavior; sometimes aggression and anger hide an alternative dark truth. The inclusion of historical events and people such as JFK, the Jim Crow Laws, and segregation made the story even more realistic. Neeley was a fantastic leading character; her warmth and empathy for others were astounding for such a young girl. The author has brought the relevant subject of racial inequality to a younger audience in a way they can understand and relate to. This novel will also inspire the reader to have the courage to speak out, celebrate unique qualities, and not to judge others quickly.