A librarian friend, whom I usually agree about books with, has been singing the praises of William Kent Krueger for quite a while now. Last year, based upon her recommendation I read his book The Tender Land, and didn’t much care for it. But since she has been relentless, I decided to give him another chance and read Ordinary Grace. So glad I did, as I really liked this one.
The story is set in 1961 in a small town in Minnesota. Thirteen year old Frank Drum tells how death visited his community that summer in the forms of “Accident, Nature, Suicide, Murder.”
Frank’s father is a preacher who was changed by the war, his mother is a talented musician who thought she was marrying a soon to be lawyer, his younger brother has a horrible stutter, and his older sister is headed for Julliard in the fall. The town is filled with other well drawn characters including Gus the “loveable drunk” who lives in the church basement, Karl the son of the richest family in town whom his sister is dating, Morris the town bully, and Emil the great musician who is both physically and mentally scarred from his earlier life.
Krueger does a great job of capturing the feelings and thoughts of both Frank and his younger brother. This summer is a coming of age for them both. There are many wonderful insights about life, death, community, and prejudice in a small town. It also has a great feel for that time. Krueger perfectly captures 1961 including the food, cars, and 4th of July parade.
Each of the deaths has some aspect of mystery associated with it (which you learn the resolution of in the end). It is one of those books that draws you in and you don’t want to stop reading until it is done.
This review is a Passport Challenge review, a book recommended by a friend.