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Can an wiser, older narrator view the past with more wisdom than he might have possessed forty years earlier in the summer he was thirteen? Ordinary Grace visits long ago events in childhood from an adult perspective.
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Frank, the narrator of Ordinary Grace takes us back to the Minnesota summer of '61 where the story begins with the death of a boy. Frank's father is a minister, a man with strong beliefs and a foundation based on faith Frank and his family, his brother Jake, his sister, Ariel, and his mother, Ruth find it more difficult to embrace the grace of God without question. Each, but particularly Ruth, experience bursts of anger at this God who seems to have forsaken them.
Grace and its many meanings is used throughout the book symbolically and as metaphor.
Ordinary Grace is very evocative of the time period. Frank and I are the same age that summer of '61 which makes it easy for me to identify with his feeling and point of view.
Though the initial murder is important to the story and begs to be solved this is not a typical mystery. Ordinary Grace is at it's core a story about family, love, loss, hate, fear and forgiveness. It is as beautiful a story as it is one of grief. It is a story about faith and how we are tested by God. No child should have to bear the dying that Frank experiences that summer of '61. No man should have to revisit it every year.
I truly loved Ordinary Grace, hope to convince more to read it. Its pages tell a sad story, yet there is humor too, somehow powerfully written passages and I was left feeling hopeful in the end. A solid 5 star read!
There was nothing ordinary about the grace with which this book was written. I would've happily continued reading as many pages as William Kent Krueger had written. It will be a while before another book measures up to this one. Don't miss it!
ORDINARY GRACE by William Krueger
Frank, a thirteen year old on the cusp of manhood, is the main character in William K Krueger’s book “Ordinary Grace.” On its surface it is a tale of death - a murder, an accident, in war, stupidly or deliberately done, of age or illness. On a much deeper level it is the story of a family, the love that binds them together and the faith that sustains them. This is not an explicitly “Christian” book and yet you will finish the book and know why faith is and what it is.
Krueger uses words in wonderful and unique ways to evoke a time and place that will live with you long after you finish reading this book. His description of a mother’s sorrow is expressed “She was flesh without spirit, eyes without sight” (page 182) and setting sun “was caught in the branches of the trees and the light across the lawns was yellow-orange and broken" (page 133).
This is a lovely book. Now that I have finished it, I want to read it again – only slowly so I can savor each word. His writing is believable. You know that is just what each character would say or do or think. His metaphors and similes are precise and unique and exactly right, yet they do not make think “oh, he learned that lesson on metaphor well.” Instead you are simply lost in the time, the place and the character.