Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Recap - William Kent Krueger's Ordinary Grace

Last night, I led a book discussion of William Kent Krueger's Ordinary Grace. So, I wasn't home to read a book. But, I did have the chance to reread this wonderful book over the weekend in preparation for the book discussion. It's moving, powerful, tragic, beautifully written. Ordinary Grace deserves every award it received. Saying that, today I'm rerunning my review of the novel. If you haven't read it, maybe you'll be enticed to pick it up.

In 1961, Frank Drum was thirteen, living in a small Minnesota town, New Bremen, with his parents, his older sister, Ariel, and his younger brother, Jake. Ariel was a music prodigy headed for Juilliard. Jake seldom said anything to anyone because of his stutter. Frank, the oldest son of a Methodist minister, was at that age when he was cocky and wanted to be an adult. Forty years later, Frank tells the story of that summer that turned him into an adult a little too soon.

It all began with the death of a boy slightly younger than Frank, a boy killed on the railroad tracks. Was it a tragic accident, or was there "something fishy" about it, as one of the policemen thought? Frank, with his brother, Jake, tagging along, is curious about the death. And, when Frank and Jake find a body near the tracks, they're soon at the heart of the events that will take place over that long, troubling summer. When tragedy strikes his own family, then, Frank finds himself more than a witness.

Krueger's novel isn't a murder mystery, despite the tragedies. It's not about murder. It is about survival, going on with life, and finding the way to do it, whether it's grace, strength, family. And, it's about how people survive, even if they use drink or turning a blind eye. Ordinary Grace is a story about a bigger picture. It's about war and survival. It's about daily life and survival. It's about those who have been knocked to their knees, or stutter, or are the wrong race. It's about how they go on with life, or shut themselves away from it. It's about God, and whether God fails us in time of crisis. It's a coming-of-age story.

Krueger's book came out in early 2013, and went on to win all kinds of awards. Ordinary Grace isn't an ordinary book. It's one of those special books that explains life in simple words that touch the heart. It's truly an exceptional novel.

William Kent Krueger's website is www.WilliamKentKrueger.com

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. Atria Books. 2013. ISBN 9781451645828 (hardcover), 307p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I have friends who are huge fans of Kent Krueger's books and I've met him (very nice guy) at conventions, but I'd never read one of his series books. For some reason (maybe because I was 12 in 1961, though Brooklyn, New York is another world from rural Minnesota) this one did appeal to me.

Anyway, I read it (the book was the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America as Best Novel of the Year) a few weeks back and agree with everything you say. I raced through it in little more than a day and loved the book. Highly recommended.

Jeff M.

Kay said...

I'll add my recommendation here as well. A wonderful book. My mystery group loved it and many had thought that they wouldn't since it is not a 'traditional' mystery. Just goes to show, right?

Lesa said...

Jeff, I haven't read any of his series books either, although one of my readers here keeps pushing me. I will! I will! It's just hard to start another series when I have so many going.

Yes. I loved the book. Thanks to Beth Hoffman for recommending it. It took someone who normally doesn't read mysteries to finally push me over the edge.

Lesa said...

Everyone at the book group last night loved it, too, Kay. A lot of material for discussion, and we loved the writing. And, I'm usually the last one to read for language.

TFJ said...

Both Krueger's first in his series and this one have been on my list for a while. Sounds like I better get to this one, then the first in the series. Thanks for the re-posting of this review, Lesa.


Lesa said...

You're welcome, Tricia. I hope you enjoy it as much as the rest of us did.

donna said...

Just have to add to the comments - this book was great - highly recommend - I am going to look for some of his other ones - thanks for reminding me.

Lesa said...

My pleasure, Donna!

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