Act of Grace is deeply immersed in global politics, but its focus is the ripples that run out from invasion, bigotry and protest, through lives and down generations. Krien resists easy conclusions, following her flawed characters with sharp, sympathetic eyes, before leaving them without fanfare, still compromised and still uncertain, but with the chance to rework the angry echoes of the past into a song of their own.
Her characters, though, are her greatest achievement: all of them convincing products of their circumstances. Toohey looks backwards at his time as a soldier, while Nasim’s mind is focused on the present, on survival, and Robbie’s eyes are on the future as she fights for change. In placing these complicated, vulnerable characters together, Krien crosses cultural and generational divides to dazzling effect.