Graceling by Kristin Cashore -- 8th grade selection

Summary from eNotes:
Graceling by Kristin Cashore is her debut fantasy novel. It was published by Harcourt Children’s Books in 2008.
The main character in the story is Kasta, a Graceling, which is a rare group of people who possess an extreme or special skill. Some Gracelings are great storytellers, dancers, swimmers, or they can read other people’s minds. Kasta’s talent is her ability to fight. Gracelings also have eyes of different colors. Kasta is a startling beauty.

Being a Graceling is special, but being special can cause a person to be shunned in their community. When her cousin makes advances to her when she is ten years old, Kasta kills him. This act revealed her Grace. She has an ability to kill. Rather than banish his niece, her uncle decides to use her as an assassin. King Randa (her uncle) manipulates the Gracelings, or Graces, for his singular purposes.

Kasta straddles the world between “Graced” and “Othered.” As a child, Kasta was raised by men, which allowed her to be “Othered” enough so that she might not fit back into her Grace. When she returns, King Randa forces Kasta into dresses and presents her to his court. Kasta resists both re-entering the kingdom and “system” of the Gracelings.

Over time, Kasta must develop and control her power or Grace. She eventually works for Randa by torturing people who have betrayed him or the kingdom. Kasta discreetly forms the Council to serve in the name of justice in defense of those who suffer under the abuses of the king’s power. In this manner, she is also straddling different parts of her identity: she works for the king but also undercuts his power with the Council.

Kasta develops a friendship with the Lienid prince, Po. She learns the story of his grandfather’s kidnapping and wants to resolve the mystery. She resists falling in love with him because she chooses to lead her own life without marriage or children. Critics have noted this point as a refreshing admission from a female character.cashore.jpg

Author Information click here to visit Kristin Cashore's blog

Kristin Cashore wrote the New York Times bestsellers Graceling and Fire, both of which have been named ALA Best Books for Young Adults. Graceling is the winner of the 2009 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature and Fire is the winner of the 2010 Cybil for YA Fantasy/Sci Fi and the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. The books are world travelers, currently scheduled to be published in twenty-eight languages.