Saturday, August 15, 2015

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger Book Review

Title: Ordinary Grace
Author: William Kent Krueger
Publisher: Atria Books
Date of Release: March 26, 2013
Pages: 336
Received From: Purchased


“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.”

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family—which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother—he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.

Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

Tim's Review

Well, well, well - I have finally convinced my husband to take part in my reviewing process on I'm Shelf-ish. He doesn't read quite as fast as I do most of the time, but he reads many different books as well so it will be nice to have a new voice on here. For the time being I will be writing up his reviews for him, but will be inviting him and adding his bio here shortly. Welcome honey! Now on to his review.

There are certain books I think, that when you finish reading them you say to yourself, "I'm glad I read that book." Ordinary Grace was such a book for me. It focused on a family from a small town in Minnesota during the summer of 1961, and the incredible amount of loss experienced by the family and the rest of the folks in the area.

The events in the book are seen through the eyes of the oldest son Frank, age 13. Although he is the son of a Minister the book doesn't lean too heavily on the religious side. The author shows how important religion is in the family's life but also shows them as a family just trying to make their way through a very difficult time.

The main character is a bit older than I was in 1961 but I could still relate to much of what he was going through growing up in a small Midwestern town. The author did a good job of helping the reader really experience the feelings of loss, which are such a large part of the book.

However, the author also captures the feelings of forgiveness and acceptance equally as well and helps the reader really buy into the story and the characters. All in all a very enjoyable read. I'm glad I read that book.

3 1/2 stars

Raised in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, William Kent Krueger briefly attended Stanford University—before being kicked out for radical activities. After that, he logged timber, worked construction, tried his hand at freelance journalism, and eventually ended up researching child development at the University of Minnesota. He currently makes his living as a full-time author. He’s been married for over 40 years to a marvelous woman who is a retired attorney. He makes his home in St. Paul, a city he dearly loves.

Krueger writes a mystery series set in the north woods of Minnesota. His protagonist is Cork O’Connor, the former sheriff of Tamarack County and a man of mixed heritage—part Irish and part Ojibwe. His work has received a number of awards, including the Minnesota Book Award, the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, and the Friends of American Writers Prize. His last five novels were all New York Times bestsellers.

Ordinary Grace, his stand-alone novel published in 2013, received the Edgar Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America in recognition for the best novel published in that year. Windigo Island, number fourteen in his Cork O’Connor series, was released in August 2014 and was chosen by as one the best books of the year.

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