Excerpt from Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Ordinary Grace

by William Kent Krueger

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger X
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2013, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2014, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"I told you, go back to bed."

"Please. I won't be in the way. And I can't sleep now anyway."

"Keep your voice down. You'll wake everybody."

"Please, Dad."

He had energy enough to rise and meet his duty but not the strength to blunt the assault of a thirteen-year-old looking for adventure in the middle of an oppressive summer night. He said, "Get dressed."

Jake was sitting on the edge of his bed. He already had his shorts on and was pulling up his socks.

I said, "Where do you think you're going?"

"With you and Dad." He knelt and in the dark under his bed dug for his sneakers.

"Like hell."

"You said hell," he said, still digging.

"You're not going, Howdy Doody."

He was younger than me by two years and two heads shorter. Because he had red hair and freckles and freakish ears that stood out like the handles on a sugar bowl people in New Bremen sometimes called him Howdy Doody. When I was pissed at him I called him Howdy Doody too.

"You're not the b-b-b-boss of me," he said.

Jake almost always stuttered in public but around me he only stuttered when he was mad or scared.

"No," I replied, "but I can p-p-p-pound the crap out of you any time I want."

He found his sneakers and began to put them on.

Night was the dark of the soul and being up in an hour when the rest of the world was dead with sleep gave me a sinful thrill. My father often ventured out like this on some lonely mission but I'd never been allowed to go. This was special and I didn't want to share it with Jake. I'd already wasted precious time however so I left off arguing and got myself dressed.

My brother was waiting in the hall when I came out. I intended to argue with him some more but my father slipped from his bedroom and shut the door behind him. He looked at Jake as if about to say something unpleasant. Instead he sighed and signaled us both to go before him down the stairs.

Outside the crickets were kicking up a frenzy. Fireflies hung in the still black air flickering on and off like the slow blink of dreamy eyes.

As we walked to the garage our shadows glided before us, black boats on a silver sea of moonlight.

"Shotgun," Jake said.

"Ah, come on. You're not even supposed to be here."

"I called it."

Which was the rule. In New Bremen, a town platted and populated by Germans, rules were abided by. Even so I complained until my father broke in. "Jake called it," he said. "End of discussion, Frank."

We piled into the car, a 1955 Packard Clipper the color of canned peas that my mother had named Lizzie. She christened every automobile we ever owned. A Studebaker she called Zelda. A Pontiac Star Chief was Little Lulu after the comic book character. There were others but her favorite—the favorite of us all except my father—was that Packard. It was huge and powerful and elegant. It had been a gift from my grandfather and was a source of contention between my parents. Though he never came right out and said so I believe it hurt my father's pride to accept such an extravagant gift from a man he didn't particularly like and whose values he openly challenged. I understood even then that my grandfather considered my father a failure and not good enough for my mother. Dinner when these two sat at the same table was usually a storm about to break.

We pulled out and drove through the Flats which was what we called the part of New Bremen where we lived. It lay along the Minnesota River below the Heights where the wealthy families resided. There were a lot of people living above us who weren't rich but no one with money lived on the Flats. We drove past Bobby Cole's house. Like all the others we passed it was totally dark. I tried to wrap my thinking around the fact of his death which had occurred the day before. I'd never known a kid who died and it felt unnatural and sinister, as if Bobby Cole had been snatched by a monster.

Excerpted from Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. Copyright © 2013 by William Kent Krueger. Excerpted by permission of Atria Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Year, 1961

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Electric Woman
    The Electric Woman
    by Tessa Fontaine
    In 2010, author Tessa Fontaine's mother had a near-fatal hemorrhagic stroke, leaving her with a...
  • Book Jacket: The Female Persuasion
    The Female Persuasion
    by Meg Wolitzer
    A college freshman struggling for identity. A 1960s feminist icon attempting to maintain her ...
  • Book Jacket: A Lucky Man
    A Lucky Man
    by Jamel Brinkley
    If his debut collection of short stories, A Lucky Man is any indicator, Jamel Brinkley is poised on ...
  • Book Jacket: Picture Us In The Light
    Picture Us In The Light
    by Kelly Loy Gilbert
    Kelly Loy Gilbert presents a beautiful narrative with myriad intertwined plotlines that explores the...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Harbor of Spies by Robin Lloyd

A captivating thriller-at-sea set in Spanish colonial Havana in the 1860s.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Eternal Life
    by Dara Horn

    The award-winning author returns with an ingenious novel about what it would mean to live forever.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Comedown

The Comedown by Rebekah Frumkin

A blistering dark comedy that explores delineating lines of race, class, religion, and time.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.