Book Review: More Than Grit by Gretchen A. Carlson

Posted March 18, 2024 by meezcarrie in Book Review, children, Christian, clean, Gretchen A. Carlson, historical, middle grade, YA / 19 Comments


More Than Grit book review

More Than Grit by Gretchen A. CarlsonMORE THAN GRIT by Gretchen A. Carlson
GENRE: Middle Grade/Young Adult Historical Fiction (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Independently Published
RELEASE DATE: July 15, 2022
PAGES: 239

When do secrets become lies? When is grit not enough?

A story of broken lives and deep friendships, inspired by true events in 1939, when the shadows of World War II lengthened.

Scarred by burns from a kerosene lantern, twelve-year old Sissy knows electricity is more than her farm family’s dream. It’s vital. She also knows they can’t afford the required deposit to be connected to electric lines, so she wrangles a secret deal in order to help her parents. As she faces danger and sacrifices to support her family, Sissy’s best efforts fail. She’s blind to what she needs most, and when she finally tells her secrets, she fears it’s too late.

Set in Kansas farmland, More than Grit is an unforgettable story of determination to succeed against all odds and will appeal to middle-grade and teen readers, their parents, and anyone who roots for the underdog.

Award winning author Gretchen A. Carlson fills her characters with grit and grace as she shares the story her grandmother kept secret.


Don’t let the ‘middle grade’ designation for More Than Grit by Gretchen A. Carlson fool you. This is a book that older teens and adults will enjoy as well. I know I did!

Twelve-year-old Sissy Grumme feels the burden of knowing her family can’t afford the $5 deposit to be connected to electricity when it comes to their rural Kansas town. So she makes a deal with grumpy Old Man Morton – a neighbor that most people avoid – to do farm chores for him in exchange for eggs to sell. This compelling thread in the overall story had me feeling all the feels for so many different reasons. The author crafts Morton’s character with deep layers, and my emotions became more fully involved with each layer that is revealed. I also was just moved to tears at the earnestness of this little girl, working so hard to earn a few cents here and there for her family. It reminded me that we take so much for granted these days, including the value of a dollar and the accessibility of electricity.

For all of Sissy’s good intentions though, several other grave concerns compete for her attention besides her secret deal with Mr. Morton. Bullying, war, prejudice, wild animals… along with other responsibilities and characters. I felt my tension rise in sympathy for poor Sissy as these burdens just keep piling up, burdens she was never meant to carry alone or even carry at all. She’s such a likable character, and I wanted to reach inside the pages and wrap her up in a big hug. I absolutely loved the spiritual lessons on the power of friendship & community, on not making judgments based only on what we see … and that God is always working behind the scenes on every detail of our lives. Even when we can’t see evidence of it. So important for all of us to grasp, no matter how old we are, but especially as a tween or teen.

Bottom Line: In More Than Grit, Gretchen A. Carlson seamlessly combines fiction and fact with heartfelt characters and tender faith lessons to engage all your emotions. The story’s compelling layers don’t shy away from the hardships of rural life in the late 1930s, or the common struggles of life and faith that we still face today. At the same time, it crescendos with hope, resiliency, and the reminder of God’s faithfulness even when life is hard. More Than Grit might be officially listed as a novel for tweens & teens, but this adult was so charmed & touched by it, too. Knowing that it’s based on a true story in the author’s family history made it even more meaningful to me. I loved the whole thing, from my first encounter with Sissy to the author’s note at the end. Get this for a tween/teen in your life, but get a copy for yourself too because it’s enjoyable from ages 11-111!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4.5 stars / loved it!

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Gretchen A. Carlson

As a girl, Gretchen A Carlson spent vacations in rural Kansas exploring her grandparents’ farm, complete with an out-house, big barn, and built-in adventures. Her grandmother waited for decades to share the family secret of how they got electricity, and it was this story that inspired Gretchen’s debut historical fiction novel about broken lives and forgiveness. Her readers range from ten to ninety-one years of age because who doesn’t love to root for the underdog and be encouraged of God’s grace? More than Grit won a First Impressions and a young adult Genesis award through American Christian Fiction Writers. A sequel, I Be Brave, is in the works. Gretchen lives with her husband of forty-six years near Indianapolis, blessed by family and six grandchildren, and she’s thankful for God’s people—the church. As a pastor’s wife, the front door of her home—like her heart—is always open. She responds to every reader. Check out her website – gretchen-carlson.com


What about you? What makes you want to read More Than Grit by Gretchen A. Carlson?

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19 responses to “Book Review: More Than Grit by Gretchen A. Carlson

  1. I loved More Than Grit too! Gretchen Carlson does an excellent job developing her characters and weaving in world history into a story about protecting friendships, forgiving those who hurt or scare us, and looking past outward appearances. The story also incorporates the theme of friends helping friends. I agree that she did a great job. Tweens and up will enjoy this story.

  2. I LOVED More than Grit! I was pulled right into the story, the characters’ lives, and the era–so different from how we live today. 10-11 year-olds and 99-year-olds (and everyone in between!) will be engaged by this story. Can’t wait for the sequel!

  3. Amanda Cabot

    I absolutely loved this story and agree that it’s one that everyone — regardless of age — should read.

  4. marilyn leach

    Gretchen is one of the finest story-tellers I know. If you love stories of rural America in bygone days that warms the heart, her book is a must read.

  5. Jami Murray

    My husband & I both read and enjoyed this book. Easy to love the main character and want the best for her and her family as they struggle to get electricity. I was left wanting to know more about the young girl and I think a sequel is a must! Gretchen shares her passion and zeal for the grace that God has given us.

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