"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.
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. His
name was Bobby Cole. He was a sweet-looking kid and by that I mean
he had eyes that seemed full of dreaming and he wore a half smile as if
he was just about to understand something you'd spent an hour trying to
explain. I should have known him better, been a better friend. He lived
not far from my house and we were the same age. But he was two years
behind me in school and might have been held back even more except
for the kindness of certain teachers. He was a small kid, a simple child,
no match at all for the diesel-fed drive of a Union Pacific locomotive.
It was a summer in which death, in visitation, assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder. You ...
Ordinary Grace is an entertaining mystery with some rather emotional content at its heart. In addition to an engaging plot, the book is thought-provoking and, at times, quite poignant. Those looking for a character-driven mystery with content that goes beyond the standard police procedural will find this one worth perusing, and book clubs in particular will find the novel provides many topics for discussion.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (1164 words).
Ordinary Grace is set in the Midwestern United States in 1961. Although it was a time of peace and prosperity for much of the country, many important events were taking place around the world that year:
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