Monday, May 27, 2013

Ordinary Grace

by William Kent Krueger, Atria Books, March 2013

...a coming of age story that is engrossing and memorable

The story is set in a small town in Minnesota in the summer of 1961. Folks are going to the soda fountain and drinking ice cold root beers and the Twins are a brand new team in Minnesota.   Our narrator is Frank Drum, the 13 year old son of the local minister.  His father Nathan is a vet haunted by memories of his WWII experiences, his mother Ruth struggles in her role as a minister’s wife.  Frank has a younger brother Jake, wise beyond his years who stutters in public and an older sister Ariel who is an accomplished musician headed for Julliard at the end of this fateful summer.

Frank narrates the story from a perspective 40 years later.  It is a technique that works well.  The first death in the book, a train accident that kills a mentally challenged young boy, sets the stage for the events that will follow.  Frank and Jake are an adventurous duo, walking the edge between serious trouble and normal boyhood adventures.  They spend a lot of time eavesdropping on adults and learning information that alters their take on events.  The author does a nice job in writing about the relationships among the three siblings, it is a family dynamic that rings true.

Frank grows into an adult maturity as he considers and responds to the action in the story.  I particularly enjoyed the writing when he describes his thought process on events.  It seemed so realistic.  The events of the summer are life changing for all involved.  The town will witness multiple deaths at least one of which is a murder.  While this story is described as a murder mystery,  it is not a page turner  and the murderer is apparent well  before it is revealed.  It is more of a coming of age story that examines the role of faith in response to horrific events.  

I liked this book and will search out more by this author.   I think he tells an engrossing  story of how good people struggle with loss, deal with guilt, participate in a community, support each other, weigh whether forgiveness is possible and find comfort in a religious faith.

I read a copy of this novel that I bought.

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