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Ordinary Grace (2013)

by William Kent Krueger

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,7891536,981 (4.16)155
Looking back at a tragic event that occurred during his thirteenth year, Frank Drum explores how a complicated web of secrets, adultery, and betrayal shattered his Methodist family and their small 1961 Minnesota community.
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» See also 155 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
My favorite book of 2020 as part of the slow reader's book club recommended by MaryAnn. A great story about young teenagers who solve local murders ( )
  PHQTUBS | Mar 13, 2021 |
The summer Frank is thirteen, his small, rural town is rocked by four deaths and a mystery that entwines several prominent families and changes their lives forever. I was pleasantly surprised by this eloquent coming-of-age story. I'm not really into books about funny, folksy, saccharine small-town charm, so I'm always a little cautious approaching writing about small-town Minnesota (speaking as a Minnesotan myself). This is definitely not a funny book, and though the author definitely sets the place and time by making frequent local references, it was just shy of being too much. It was satisfying to guess fairly quickly which real Minnesota town New Bremen is modeled after based on geographic and industrial clues given in the text, and ultimately it also gave me a hankering for a rural Minnesota road trip. ( )
  ryner | Mar 9, 2021 |
Wow! That's the book in a nutshell but I'll expand on that just a bit.
It's the summer of '61 and the lives of two families are about to change in drastic and tragic ways but also in ways beyond description.
The phenomenal writing of the author leverages the tragic with humor and the brotherly love shared by Frank and Jake.
I'm not saying any more, you need to experience this well developed story,rich characters and sense of place yourself.
Obviously, I highly recommend it. ( )
  Carmenere | Mar 6, 2021 |
Even though my Kindle is where books go to die, I dug this one out and am now scratching my head as to why I waited so long. In a word, wonderful. 1961 small town Minnesota is the setting for this mystery novel. Unlike most mysteries, this one concentrates on the development of the characters, especially 13 year old Frank and his younger brother Jake who grow up fast during this turbulent summer when a young friend dies unexpectedly and sets off several other deaths. Exquisite writing brings forth some wonderful empathy along with dealing with the grief that the whole community faces. If you enjoyed the writing of Kent Haruf you might just like this book. ( )
  brenzi | Jan 4, 2021 |
This book! I went into it thinking it is a mystery ... which it is,
and a coming-of-age story, which it also is.
But, there is a depth to the story that goes beyond the mystery.
It is a story about family, and small miracles and yes, ordinary
grace. This one will stay with me for awhile. ( )
  Mnpose | Dec 14, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
It's the kind of book where you fight between wanting to race through it to the finish and attempting to make it last. Luckily it's paced so well and is so satisfying a meal for the mind, I was able to put it down every few chapters and happily mull over what has gone before, feeling sated.

It's the kind of introspective, intelligent novel where there are layers of meaning behind every word, and personal history and context wrapped in the motives of every character. It also has a strong plot, for those who like Kent Krueger for his thrillers.
 
Krueger has created a cast of compelling characters (young and old), each in his or her own way searching for something, including the narrator’s father, the town’s Methodist pastor, and his mother, whose bold personality worries his congregation.

Although Krueger’s plot rises to a predictable conclusion, 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
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Kent Kruegerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Orlow, RichNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The heart has reasons that reason does not understand. -- Blaise Pascal
Dedication
For Diane, my extraordinary grace
First words
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.
Quotations
With Mother home I liked the idea that we’d been saved as a family by the miracle of that ordinary grace.
I still spend a lot of time thinking about the events of that summer. About the terrible price of wisdom. The awful grace of God.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Looking back at a tragic event that occurred during his thirteenth year, Frank Drum explores how a complicated web of secrets, adultery, and betrayal shattered his Methodist family and their small 1961 Minnesota community.

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Book description
“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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