An arc of Ordinary Grace

What better way to spend a dreary February day( or any day for that matter) than to curl up and read a new book by William Kent Krueger, one of my favorite authors? I was fortunate enough to snag an advance copy of his latest, Ordinary Grace, and spent the better part of one such gray day basking in the warmth of a Minnesota summer in the year 1961. Those of you who know me have heard me talk about his Cork O’Connor mysteries, but this novel stands alone—in more ways than one.
The summer of 1961 was a time of many things, the new Minnesota Twins, a new president in the White House, cold root beers after pick-up games at the local vacant lot and, for Frank Drum and his brother Jake, the unwelcome shadow of death. As minister’s sons, they’ve been to services for the dead before, but never for a friend or for the nameless vagrant they had discovered down by the riverbank. These two deaths set the tone for the summer and a third event shatters the world as they know it. Their older sister Ariel disappears after a party and is later found in the river. There is no question of accidental death. Ariel has been murdered.
As their world and family unravel, Frank and Jake find that knowing the secrets and failings of the grown-ups in their lives is a terrible wisdom, raising more questions than either of them wanted to ask and more answers than they ever wanted to know. Their parents are no longer perfect, other people in their lives show unexpected compassion and courage, and the end of the summer brings the knowledge that there is an awful and wonderful grace in the knowing of the truth.
While there is a mystery to be solved here, the mystery itself is not the story. Ordinary Grace, for me, is the coming of age of a young man in a time of relative innocence and his reaction to the imperfections he discovers in his own small world. Frank’s summer begins with no more worries than yard work for his grandfather and ball games with his friends and ends with his realization that growing up comes with a price as well as rewards. Mr. Krueger weaves his usual magic with flowing narrative and fully fleshed out characters, major and minor. He knows the workings of small towns back in the day when calling home meant finding a pay phone and doors could be left unlocked without qualms. You don’t have to have read his other books to relish this one, but I guarantee that after reading Ordinary Grace you will.


1 Comment

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One response to “An arc of Ordinary Grace

  1. Jessica Dewey

    I can hardly wait to read this!! Each book seems to be better than the last!

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