Friday, July 4, 2014

Review: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

 Ordinary Grace Title: Ordinary Grace
Author: William Kent Krueger (author website)
Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher:  Atria Books; Reprint edition (March 4, 2014)
Pages:  336
Source:  purchased for book group
About the Book: (from
From New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger comes a brilliant new novel about a young man, a small town, and murder in the summer of 1961.  New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were at the ready at Halderson’s Drug Store soda counter, 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 summer in which death assumed many forms.
When tragedy unexpectedly comes to call on his family, which includes his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Juilliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his years kid brother, Frank finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal.

On the surface, Ordinary Grace is the story of the murder of a beautiful young woman, a beloved daughter and sister. At heart, it’s the story of what that tragedy does to a boy, his family, and ultimately the fabric of the small town in which he lives. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, it is a 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.

Related Media:  Book Trailer

About the Author:

William Kent Krueger
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 free-lance 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 35 years to a marvelous woman who is an 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, and the Friends of American Writers Prize. "Northwest Angle" (2011) and "Trickster's Point" (2012) were New York Times bestsellers

My Review:  My oldest son is a huge fan of William Kent Krueger and has read most of his books.  My youngest son is just starting to read Iron Lake, his first William Kent Krueger book.  I on the other hand, had not read a single book by William Kent Krueger.  How could I live in Minnesota and not read this author who is a MN legend.  My book club selected Ordinary Grace for our monthly selection, so that sealed the deal, I would read Ordinary Grace.

I kick myself for not having picked up a William Kent Krueger book before.  Ordinary Grace is set in a fictious MN town in the 1960's.   Really it could be any MN town...his description of the town, the people and the era just felt like home.  This summer in New Bremen, MN started as an idyllic summer for 13 year old Frankie, but quickly turned to a summer of mysterious deaths.  While Ordinary Grace is a mystery, it is a rich story with complex characters and relationships.

The characters are lovable and real with their true hearts and weaknesses.   Kent uses a unique technique in tell Frankie’s story in Ordinary Grace.   While 13 year old Frankie is the narrator of this story, his present day self (age 40ish) adds insight to this thoughts and the events that happened that summer.   While I rarely share passages in my book reviews, I have to share the passage as I think I read it over 5 times……just love it…so profound.

“We turn, three men bound by love, by history, by circumstance, and most certainly by the awful grace of God, and together walk a narrow lane where headstones press close all around, reminding me gently of Warren Redstone’s parting wisdom, which I understand now. The dead are never far from us. They’re in our hearts and on our minds and in the end all that separates us from them is a single breath, one final puff of air.”
William Kent Krueger, Ordinary Grace

My Rating: 4/5 – Ordinary Grace is a wonderfully descriptive story that introduces you to a place that simply feels like home.  The language and choice of words as to the feeling of home.   Comfortable and idyllic.   The mystery is very engaging and slowly unfolds in a manner that isn’t too fast nor does it drag……it is simply perfect.   If you are like me and don’t tend to read or enjoy mysteries, you will find Ordinary Grace by WIlliam Kent Krueger to be much more than a typical mystery.  

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Ordinary Grace was also reviewed by Booking Mama, Crime Fiction Lover and Shelia @ Book Journey.
Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – Copy of Ordinary Gace by William Kent Krueger was purchased from  Monthly book selection for my book club.  

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