Ordinary Grace

Ordinary Grace

4.5 125
by William Kent Krueger
     
 

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“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,

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Overview

“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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Best known for the Cork O’Connor mystery series, Krueger (Trickster’s Point) has produced an elegiac, evocative, stand-alone novel. The summer of 1961 finds thirteen-year-old Frank Drum living in small-town New Bremen, Minn. He and his younger brother, Jake, idolize their older sister, Ariel, a talented church organist who’s also the “golden child” of their parents, WWII veteran and Methodist pastor Nathan and church music director Ruth. Nathan and Ruth befriend the accomplished musician Emil Brandt, a veteran left blinded by his service, who tutors Ariel in her music education. Meanwhile, Jake, who has a stutter, forms a close bond with Lise, Emil’s deaf older sister and caretaker, while Ariel dates Emil’s wealthy nephew, Karl. The Drums’ peaceful existence is shattered, however, when Ariel fails to return from a late-night party. In the aftermath of her disappearance, Karl comes under suspicion, Ruth undergoes a crisis of faith, and dark secrets about New Bremen come to light. The small-town milieu is rendered in picturesque detail, accurate down to period-appropriate TV programs, for what becomes a resonant tale of fury, guilt, and redemption. Agent: Danielle Egan-Miller, Browne & Miller Literary Associates. (Mar.)
Dennis Lehane
“A pitch-perfect, wonderfully evocative examination of violent loss. In Frank Drum's journey away from the shores of childhood—a journey from which he can never return—we recognize the heartbreaking price of adulthood and it's 'wisdoms.' I loved this book.”
Huffington Post
“Once in a blue moon a book drops down on your desk that demands to be read. You pick it up and read the first page, and then the second, and you are hooked. Such a book is Ordinary Grace…This is a book that makes the reader feel better just by having been exposed to the delights of the story. It will stay with you for quite some time and you will always remember it with a smile.”
BookReporter.com
“One cannot read Ordinary Grace without feeling as if it is destined to be hailed as a classic work of literature. Ordinary Grace is one of those very rare books in which one regrets reaching its end, knowing that the experience of having read it for the first time will never be repeated. Krueger, who is incapable of writing badly, arguably has given us his masterpiece.”
ReviewingtheEvidence.com
“My best read so far this year.”
BookPage
“A thoughtful literary mystery that is wholly compelling and will appeal to fans of Dennis Lehane and Tom Franklin. . . Don’t take the title too literally, for Krueger has produced something that is anything but ordinary.”
From the Publisher
“A pitch-perfect, wonderfully evocative examination of violent loss. In Frank Drum's journey away from the shores of childhood—a journey from which he can never return—we recognize the heartbreaking price of adulthood and it's 'wisdoms.' I loved this book.”

“A respected mystery writer turns his attention to the biggest mystery of all: God. An award-winning author for his long-running Cork O’ Connor series, Krueger aims higher and hits harder with a standalone novel that shares much with his other work.... 'the awful grace of God,' as it manifests itself within the novel, would try the faith of the most devout believer. Yet, ultimately, the world of this novel is one of redemptive grace and mercy, as well as unidentified corpses and unexplainable tragedy. A novel that transforms narrator and reader alike.”

“...elegiac, evocative.... a resonant tale of fury, guilt, and redemption.”

“Once in a blue moon a book drops down on your desk that demands to be read. You pick it up and read the first page, and then the second, and you are hooked. Such a book is Ordinary Grace…This is a book that makes the reader feel better just by having been exposed to the delights of the story. It will stay with you for quite some time and you will always remember it with a smile.”

“One cannot read Ordinary Grace without feeling as if it is destined to be hailed as a classic work of literature. Ordinary Grace is one of those very rare books in which one regrets reaching its end, knowing that the experience of having read it for the first time will never be repeated. Krueger, who is incapable of writing badly, arguably has given us his masterpiece.”

“My best read so far this year.”

“A thoughtful literary mystery that is wholly compelling and will appeal to fans of Dennis Lehane and Tom Franklin. . . Don’t take the title too literally, for Krueger has produced something that is anything but ordinary.”

Library Journal
Krueger, primarily known for his Cork O’Connor mystery series (Trickster’s Point), ventures into new territory with this coming-of-age stand-alone that has a hint of mystery. In 1961 New Bremen, MN, Frank Drum is a typical 13-year-old who likes baseball and getting into trouble. He has an 11-year-old brother, a Methodist minister father, a sister bound for Juilliard, and an artistically inclined mother. Narrating the story 40 years after the events unfold, Frank recalls the five deaths that occurred that summer that scarred many, especially his family. He and his brother grow up that summer as they see, hear, and experience tragedy and love that is part and parcel of the adult world.

Verdict For fans of Wiley Cash’s A Land More Kind Than Home or Krueger’s other works, this is a touching read, with just enough intrigue to keep the story moving along.—Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
A respected mystery writer turns his attention to the biggest mystery of all: God. An award-winning author for his long-running Cork O' Connor series (Trickster's Point, 2012, etc.), Krueger aims higher and hits harder with a stand-alone novel that shares much with his other work. The setting is still his native Minnesota, the tension with the region's Indian population remains palpable and the novel begins with the discovery of a corpse, that of a young boy who was considered a little slow and whose body was found near the train trestle in the woods on the outskirts of town. Was it an accident or something even more sinister? Yet, that opening fatality is something of a red herring (and that initial mystery is never really resolved), as it serves as a prelude to a series of other deaths that shake the world of Frank Drum, the 13-year-old narrator (occasionally from the perspective of his memory of these events, four decades later), his stuttering younger brother and his parents, whose marriage may well not survive these tragedies. One of the novel's pivotal mysteries concerns the gaps among what Frank experiences (as a participant and an eavesdropper), what he knows and what he thinks he knows. "In a small town, nothing is private," he realizes. "Word spreads with the incomprehensibility of magic and the speed of plague." Frank's father, Nathan, is the town's pastor, an aspiring lawyer until his military experience in World War II left him shaken and led him to his vocation. His spouse chafes at the role of minister's wife and doesn't share his faith, though "the awful grace of God," as it manifests itself within the novel, would try the faith of the most devout believer. Yet, ultimately, the world of this novel is one of redemptive grace and mercy, as well as unidentified corpses and unexplainable tragedy. A novel that transforms narrator and reader alike.
Washington Post
“Krueger’s elegy for innocence is a deeply memorable tale.”
Capital Journal
“Sometimes a work of fiction just comes to you, sits in your soul, touches your life experiences and then is hard to remember as fiction. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger is such a novel."
PJ Coldren
“I've lent my copy so many times I don't know where it is any more and will have to get another one. Phenomenal writing. Incredibly easy to read, which we all know means it was probably not incredibly easy to write, and the story stays long after the book is put down. I was awed by this book.”
Denver Post
“Not often does a story feel at once fresh and familiar. But Ordinary Grace, a new novel from William Kent Krueger, is both, and it is affecting.”
The Missourian
Ordinary Grace is engaging from the first page, a quiet novel that unfurls its sad story slowly, but eloquently, leaving its mark on your heart.”
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“There’s such a quiet beauty in his prose and such depth to his characters that I was completely captivated by this book’s ordinary grace.”
New York Journal of Books
“A superb literary novel.”
Detroit News
“...the tone is much like To Kill a Mockingbird, with its combination of dread and nostalgia.”
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“Everything about this book, from language to ideas to Aeschylus’s epigram is beautiful and you’ll think about it long after you’re finished reading.”
Historical Novel Society
“I realized within pages this would be one of the best books I’ve read in recent years. The gathering threat and its consummation are satisfying and meaningful. This is an intelligent and compelling story told with great heart.... A perfect book club read, truly a book to love and read more than once. Absolutely recommended.”
Beth Hoffman
“Besides being a terrific story that examines a powerful range of human experiences and emotions, it was the authentic voice of the teenage narrator, Frank Drum, that kept me reading late into the night. Though the tone is quiet, Krueger artfully layered the story with suspenseful examinations of family life, death, fury, spiritual fiber and redemption.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781451645828
Publisher:
Atria Books
Publication date:
03/26/2013
Pages:
307
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.12(h) x 1.10(d)

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