Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Summary: “From “New York Times “bestselling author William Kent Krueger comes a brilliant new novel about a young man, a small town, and murder in the summer of 1961.New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were at the ready at Halderson’s Drug Store soda counter, 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 summer in which death assumed many forms.
When tragedy unexpectedly comes to call on his family, which includes his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Juilliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his years kid brother, Frank finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal.
On the surface, “Ordinary Grace” is the story of the murder of a beautiful young woman, a beloved daughter and sister. At heart, it’s the story of what that tragedy does to a boy, his family, and ultimately the fabric of the small town in which he lives. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, it is a 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” (Goodreads).
When I was through with the first hundred or so pages, I was certain this would end up being a three-star read, something my mom recommended to me that I just wouldn’t fall in love with. However, once I got to about the last one hundred pages, I was certain it would be somewhere between four and five stars.
This isn’t a book I’ve seen much around bookstagram or even Goodreads, but it’s one that should be around there more often. It’s not really a mystery, and instead is more a discussion of what grief and the need for justice can do to a community. It reflects upon the prejudice towards Native Americans, especially when one is accused of a crime. It also reflects upon the prejudice within the religious community against gay people.
It’s a relatively religious book, but it isn’t heavy-handed in its religion. It’s also one of few religious books I’ve read that have had an on-page discussion between a gay man and a minister where the minister tells him that God loves him the way he is—and this book takes place in the ’60s. The religious aspect appealed to me because I am Christian, but I’ve never really enjoyed books that push the religion onto you and this definitely doesn’t do that. I think this book would still be good if I weren’t Christian.
This story is just so powerful. It had me tearing up at many points. The writing is spectacular and the William Kent Krueger’s storytelling is so good. My only real complaint is that most of the “good stuff” happened around the halfway mark and the beginning probably should have been condensed. I’m not complaining too much, though, because I still felt like the story warranted five stars.
I highly recommend this novel. There’s not a ton I can say without giving away parts of the book, but I think it’s definitely worth reading. I also think it’s better to go into it without really knowing what you’re getting into.