by Wendy Mass
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
One problem with reading an author’s series as they write it is that they don’t always stop where you (or they!) expect them to. Graceful is the fifth (and supposedly final) book in the Willow Falls series, though Mass said that about The Last Present, too (which I did not review but was very good). Another problem is that sometimes when their latest book comes out, it’s been a while since you’ve read the rest of the series so sometimes you forget details. I probably would have given this book five stars if I had re-read the series and the details had been fresher in my mind. There were several points at which the characters referenced a past event that dimly rang a bell but I wasn’t quite able to place its importance in the present moment of the story, so I definitely recommend reading these all in quick succession and in order!
Each book of this series has followed a different character or two and by the end of the series they are all friends even though they are different ages (I think the oldest set are 14 at the end and the younger ones are maybe 11 – so a significant age difference at that age which is pointed out once or twice). The series starts with Amanda and Leo when they turn eleven and discover the magic in their small town in 11 Birthdays; Finally is the story of Rory’s addition to the magical world; 13 Gifts focuses on Tara and her cousin Emily; The Last Present brings in Grace and her brother Connor; and Graceful is finally chronicles Grace’s turn to interact in the magical world. Graceful ties together the whole story in a slightly more satisfying way (if memory serves) while allowing readers to linger in the magical world of Willow Falls and these lovely teens and pre-teens who have become friends. I really enjoyed the realism and the fantasy but I think I prefer Mass’s straight fiction a little bit more since it tends to have meaningful, recurring themes that tie together a bit more strongly.