Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
2013 Atria Books
Finished on 1/11/14
Rating: 4.75/5 (Terrific!)
Addendum: William Ken Krueger will be at MY Barnes & Noble store in Lincoln, Nebraska (SouthPointe Pavillions) on April 27th at 1:00 pm. I am so excited!
Midwest Booksellers Choice Award for Best Novel of the Year
NOMINATED FOR THE 2014 EDGAR AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL
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, a preacher’s son, it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.
Told from Frank’s perspective forty years later, 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.
“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.” (Dennis Lehane, New York Times bestselling author of Live by Night and The Given Day)
I, too, loved this book!
Ordinary Grace is the second book I finished reading this year and I knew early on that it was not only sure to be a winner, but that it would be the first title on my 2014 Top Ten list. Seven books later, it remains at the top of that list.
Part coming-of-age, part mystery, Krueger’s stand-alone novel is reminiscent of The Homecoming of Samuel Lake, To Kill a Mockingbird, and A Prayer For Owen Meany. I quickly fell in love with this author’s prose, characters, and sense of place, and was eager to tell my friends and co-workers about this amazing novel. The writing is so lovely and I can hardly wait to try the audio book later this year.
On the gift of music:
When my mother sang I almost believed in heaven. It wasn’t just that she had a beautiful voice but also that she had a way of delivering a piece that pierced your heart. Oh when she sang she could make a fence post cry. When she sang she could make people laugh or dance or fall in love or go to war. In the pause before she began, the only sound in the church was the breeze whispering through the open doorway. The Coles had chosen the hymn and it seemed an odd choice, one that had probably come from Mrs. Cole whose roots were in southern Missouri. She’d asked my mother to sing a spiritual, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.
When my mother finally sang it was not just a hymn she offered, it was consummate comfort. She sang slowly and richly and delivered the heart of that great spiritual as if she was delivering heaven itself and her face was beautiful and full of peace. I shut my eyes and her voice reached out to wipe away my tears and enfold my heart and assure me absolutely that Bobby Cole was being carried home. It made me almost happy for him, a sweet boy who didn’t have to worry anymore about understanding a world that would always be more incomprehensible to him than not. Who didn’t have to endure anymore all the cruel mockeries. Who would never have to concern himself with what kind of a man he would grow into and what would become of him when his aged parents could no longer protect and care for him. My mother’s singing made me believe that God had taken Bobby Cole for the best of reasons.
And when she finished the sound of the breeze through the doorway was like the sigh of angels well pleased.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough and I believe it’s destined to become a classic.
William Kent Krueger is the author of the Cork O’Connor series, which I quickly jumped into after finishing Ordinary Grace. There are 13 books in this series, so I have plenty to look forward to by this gifted storyteller. I’m most anxious, though, for the companion novel to Ordinary Grace, on which Krueger is currently working! I'm also thrilled to learn that the author will be in Nebraska (at the Keene Memorial Library in Fremont) on April 26th.