Saving Grace

Author: Debbie Babitt

Publisher: Scarlet Suspense 

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

Genre: Thriller

Pages: 328

Average Rating 3.86

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For twenty-four years, Mary Grace Dobbs has been searching for salvation. Orphaned at eleven, she was forced to go live with her Bible salesman uncle, wheelchair-bound aunt, and a cousin who tortured and killed small animals. At school, a bully made her life a nightmare. Everything changed when a newcomer to town became her only best friend, and changed a second time when that friend and another classmate vanished two months later, never to be seen again.

Today, Mary Grace is the first female sheriff of her rural town, a position that doesn’t sit well with some of the locals. Keeping order and her demons at bay becomes an impossible task when the Black drifter suspected in the earlier disappearances returns to Repentance . . . and another sixth grader vanishes. 

With old prejudices and new secrets spilling out into the open, the modern world soon illuminates the village’s darkest corners. The case becomes even more fraught as a cult of white supremacists brings its gospel of hate to Repentance and violence explodes, claiming more lives. Racing to find the missing girl while fearing for the safety of her own sixth-grade daughter, Mary Grace must confront an unspeakable truth—and face a decision no parent should ever have to make. 

Set in a remote mountain town, where the secrets run as deep as the hollows, Saving Grace is at once a spell-binding tale of innocence lost and a twisty, edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller. This startling debut novel introduces a captivating protagonist whose concept of good and evil can shape a young girl—then and now. 

“I felt the atmospheric tension palpable throughout the book and many important themes of racism, bigotry and zealotry propagated in a small town, from one generation to the next, were well laid out throughout the storyline.”

-Savitri, @bookishcatsavant    



Buddy Read

For this buddy read each reader was provided a physical or digital copy of the book. Our readers are encouraged to post along the process from receiving the book to posting a creative photo of the book along with their review across social media platforms, Goodreads, and retail sites. 

Readers are hand picked for each title and will be notified by e-mail if they have been selected. We provide further details on how to access the title. We also inform them that we are creating a group for the chat on Instagram. The Let’s Talk Books Team will be leading our readers in an engaging discussion at the half way point and at the end of the book. 

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Discussion Questions From Our Half Way Point Chat

  1. How do you feel about the dual timelines, are they helping you understand the story or adding to it?
  2. Mary Grace carries a great deal of guilt about her parents’ deaths. We know she ran away that night so what is the other “bad” thing she did?
  3. Knowing the story is set in the Bible Belt of Arkansas, are you surprised by how religious the children are?
  4. How do you feel about the name of the town and does it’s title impact the people that live there?
  5. Mary Grace has a temper but do you really think she is evil?
  6. What about Noah? The animal abuse he committed in front of Mary Grace is part of the defined traits of a sociopath.
  7. What do you think happened Nadiah? Why did she want to leave Repentance so badly?
  8. The Coach made Mary Grace uncomfortable but do you think he was actually abusing students?
  9. What is your opinion of Parnell and the role he has played so far in the story?
  10. How do you feel about Mary Grace as an adult, a single mother and the sheriff of Repentance? How has each role changed her?

Discussion Questions For The Second Chat

  1. How do you feel about the direction the author took the second half of the book?
  2. Which twist took you most by surprise?
  3. How did you feel about Parnell not giving Darrell an alibi after all the years? Do you think the town impacted Parnell’s decision?
  4. How important was the sense of place to this story? Would this same story play in a different part of the country? In a town that is a different size?
  5. Do you think evil is inherent?

Highlights & Reviews

“There’s a lot to unpack in this one – an incredible debut!…a great book for book club discussions for sure!”


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Loved reading and discussing this as a group! It gave me a different perspective on some issues that I may not have explored otherwise!


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