Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger


First Line: All the dying that summer began with the death of a child, a boy with golden hair and thick glasses, killed on the railroad tracks outside New Bremen, Minnesota, sliced into pieces by a thousand tons of steel speeding across the prairie toward South Dakota.

Forty years on, Frank Drum looks back at the pivotal summer when he was thirteen in small town New Bremen, Minnesota. That summer's tragedies began with the death of a young boy Frank knew and as more unfolded, Frank's entire family is caught in their undertow. From Frank to his Methodist minister father to his passionate, willful mother to his musically gifted older sister to his stuttering kid brother, each family member is changed as the heat- and sun-filled days pass.

Ordinary Grace is a lyrical evocation of a time (1961) and a place (small town America). I was a child in 1961, and when I entered the world William Kent Krueger created, everything was utterly familiar to me; there were no false notes. This book is also a marvelous coming-of-age tale reminiscent of classics like To Kill a Mockingbird or Stand by Me. Frank Drum begins as a typical teenage boy who might be in trouble a bit more than he should, but as the summer progresses, he finds himself trying to make sense of the adult world of lies and secrets that he's been thrust right in the middle of.

Ordinary Grace is also a strong mystery. Frank and anyone who picks up this book wants to know who is responsible for that summer's deaths. As Frank learns more and more from his talent for being a fly on the wall, he suddenly wants to stop sneaking around to learn things and to be treated as an adult instead. As this summer of tragedy and wisdom and grace flows from one day to the next, Frank sees the members of his family in a new and more understanding light, and he is forever changed-- as are readers who have been caught in the spell of this beautiful and powerful book. Highly recommended!


Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
ISBN:  9781451645859
Atria Books © 2013
Paperback, 336 pages

Literary Mystery, Standalone
Rating: A+
Source: Purchased from Book Outlet 


12 comments:

  1. It's a pitch-perfect book and the obvious choice for the Edgar Award this year. I'm usually disappointed with the big award books but not this one!

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    1. I'm seldom disappointed because I tend to pay little attention to any awards, but I have to admit that I'm glad Ordinary Grace won the Edgar. It's a splendid book.

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  2. Cathy - This was such a strong portrayal of coming-of-age wasn't it? And I do like the small town setting. Glad you enjoyed it as much as you did.

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    1. Like Michele said, it's pitch-perfect.

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  3. I really, really liked this book. GREAT review.

    All of Mr. Krueger's books are wonderful. Have you read any others?

    Have a great day!!

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    1. No, I haven't, although Denis has read all his Cork O'Connor books and not Ordinary Grace. I've got Iron Lake sitting on my TBR shelves, so the intention is there!

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  4. Wow! This review and the comments are really saying something about this book.

    Is it as good as Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, one of my favorite-set U.S. books. And right now Ivy Pochoda's Visitation Street is right up there, too.

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    1. I can't compare it to Visitation Street, but I can to Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and I prefer Ordinary Grace, to tell you the truth.

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  5. Really? I'll put Ordinary Grace on my summer reading list.

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    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as the rest of us did, Kathy.

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  6. Am nearly midway through this book, and stayed up all night to read it. Am liking it a lot.
    I grew up in Chicago; life was nothing like this small town's, although I did ride my bike all over the neighborhood.

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    1. Growing up in my farm village was very much like growing up in Ordinary Grace's town, although mine was much smaller. I rode my bike all over creation-- including 'way out in the country.

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