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Ordinary Grace: A Novel Paperback – March 4, 2014


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (March 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451645856
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451645859
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (877 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Krueger, the author of the best-selling Cork O’Connor mysteries, largely set in Minnesota, has written a stand-alone novel that is part mystery but mostly an extended (and often overly extended) meditation. The narrator, Frank Drum, writes as a middle-age man looking back on a summer in 1961 in New Bremen, Minnesota, when he was 13; the Minnesota Twins were in their first season; and death, in five different instances, shook his family and their community in the Minnesota River valley. The first death is that of Frank’s sometime friend Bobby Cole. The proximate cause was a train, but the mystery is whether Bobby stood in front of that train, or was pushed or placed there. More deaths follow, one of which rips apart Frank’s family. This coming-of-age story is obviously an attempt to show how grace can work through the fissures of suffering. While the setting is well rendered, the characters are too flat, and Krueger keeps striking the same monologist’s meditative note throughout, while most readers will long for variety in style. --Connie Fletcher --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“A pitch-perfect, wonderfully evocative examination of violent loss. In Frank Drum's journey away from the shores of childhood—a journey from which he can never return—we recognize the heartbreaking price of adulthood and its 'wisdoms.' I loved this book.” (Dennis Lehane, New York Times bestselling author of Live by Night and The Given Day)

“Krueger’s elegy for innocence is a deeply memorable tale.” (Washington Post)

“A respected mystery writer turns his attention to the biggest mystery of all: God. An award-winning author for his long-running Cork O’ Connor series, Krueger aims higher and hits harder with a standalone novel that shares much with his other work.... 'the awful grace of God,' as it manifests itself within the novel, would try the faith of the most devout believer. Yet, ultimately, the world of this novel is one of redemptive grace and mercy, as well as unidentified corpses and unexplainable tragedy. A novel that transforms narrator and reader alike.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred))

“...elegiac, evocative.... a resonant tale of fury, guilt, and redemption.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Once in a blue moon a book drops down on your desk that demands to be read. You pick it up and read the first page, and then the second, and you are hooked. Such a book is Ordinary Grace…This is a book that makes the reader feel better just by having been exposed to the delights of the story. It will stay with you for quite some time and you will always remember it with a smile.” (Huffington Post)

“One cannot read Ordinary Grace without feeling as if it is destined to be hailed as a classic work of literature. Ordinary Grace is one of those very rare books in which one regrets reaching its end, knowing that the experience of having read it for the first time will never be repeated. Krueger, who is incapable of writing badly, arguably has given us his masterpiece.” (BookReporter.com)

“My best read so far this year.” (ReviewingtheEvidence.com)

“A thoughtful literary mystery that is wholly compelling and will appeal to fans of Dennis Lehane and Tom Franklin. . . Don’t take the title too literally, for Krueger has produced something that is anything but ordinary.” (BookPage)

“Not often does a story feel at once fresh and familiar. But Ordinary Grace, a new novel from William Kent Krueger, is both, and it is affecting.” (Denver Post)

Ordinary Grace is engaging from the first page, a quiet novel that unfurls its sad story slowly, but eloquently, leaving its mark on your heart.” (The Missourian)

“There’s such a quiet beauty in his prose and such depth to his characters that I was completely captivated by this book’s ordinary grace.” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

“A superb literary novel.” (New York Journal of Books)

“...the tone is much like To Kill a Mockingbird, with its combination of dread and nostalgia.” (Detroit News)

“Everything about this book, from language to ideas to Aeschylus’s epigram is beautiful and you’ll think about it long after you’re finished reading.” (The Globe and Mail (Toronto))

“I realized within pages this would be one of the best books I’ve read in recent years. The gathering threat and its consummation are satisfying and meaningful. This is an intelligent and compelling story told with great heart.... A perfect book club read, truly a book to love and read more than once. Absolutely recommended.” (Historical Novel Society)

“Besides being a terrific story that examines a powerful range of human experiences and emotions, it was the authentic voice of the teenage narrator, Frank Drum, that kept me reading late into the night. Though the tone is quiet, Krueger artfully layered the story with suspenseful examinations of family life, death, fury, spiritual fiber and redemption.” (Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt)

More About the Author

Raised in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, William Kent Krueger briefly attended Stanford University--before being kicked out for radical activities. After that, he logged timber, worked construction, tried his hand at freelance journalism, and eventually ended up researching child development at the University of Minnesota. He currently makes his living as a full-time author. He's been married for over 40 years to a marvelous woman who is an attorney. He makes his home in St. Paul, a city he dearly loves.

Krueger writes a mystery series set in the north woods of Minnesota. His protagonist is Cork O'Connor, the former sheriff of Tamarack County and a man of mixed heritage--part Irish and part Ojibwe. His work has received a number of awards, including the Minnesota Book Award, the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, and the Friends of American Writers Prize. His last five novels were all New York Times bestsellers.

"Ordinary Grace," his stand-alone novel published in 2013, received the Edgar Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America in recognition for the best novel published in that year. "Windigo Island," number fourteen in his Cork O'Connor series, will be released in August 2014. Visit his website at www.williamkentkrueger.com.

Customer Reviews

Well developed characters and interesting story line.
Beverly Coyne
It is the story of a family struggling after loss, but also learning to move forward with grace and love.
Becky
Kent Krueger writes a wonderful story and his characters are so vivid and believable.
Stan Henrikson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 98 people found the following review helpful By carl brookins VINE VOICE on March 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"Ordinary Grace" is a standalone novel, a project the author has long desired to write. The book is significantly different from his multiple-award-winning Cork O'Connor series. Yet there are links to the thoughtful, carefully structured, series of crime novels. In one sense, for those so inclined, a case can be made that here, Krueger addresses the ultimate mystery. "Ordinary Grace" benefits from everything the author has learned over the years writing the O'Connor novels. It is directly and powerfully written, wasting no words, yet always moving the story ahead at an appropriate pace, depending on the actions of the characters and the plot. "Ordinary Grace" is a novel that will affect readers in unusual, interesting and, quite possibly, surprising ways.

Set in a small community in southern Minnesota in 1961, this is how the story begins: "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." The narrator is an adult white male, son of the Methodist minister in town. Frank is recalling the momentous events of that bygone summer when he was but thirteen years old, a teen-ager on the cusp of young maturity. The death of that child sets in motion events and revelations of suppressed attitudes that alter the lives and futures of many people in the town. Some of the people affected are important and wealthy, others, as plain and ordinary as one could imagine. Yet everyone in the novel is required to come to terms to greater or lesser degree, with who they are and how they must relate to family, friends, members of their faith, and how they function in the wider yet limited community.
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114 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Joan N. on March 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This novel is so well written and the story is so touching, I did not want it to end.

The year is 1961 and Frank Drum is a thirteen year old son of a Methodist minister in New Bremen, Minnesota. It should have been a summer of innocence, like the era. But there were four deaths in the small town that summer. And that changed everything for Frank.

The story is narrated by Frank now forty years older. He looks back and remembers the fateful summer that was full of lies and secrets. Frank's father has a secret - something that happened in the war that made him responsible for the deaths of many. Frank's artistic mother didn't marry to be a pastor's wife and has difficulty living the role. Frank's little brother, though wise beyond his years, stutters. And Frank's older sister is an accomplished pianist, organist, and composer.

Frank tries to make sense of the events as they happen over the summer. There is the death of a young boy on the railroad tracks. Later Frank and his brother stumble upon a homeless man, dead under the train trestle.
And then his sister is missing. Frank knows she had been sneaking out at night but never told their dad. As the days go by, secrets come to the light and Frank has much to think about and understand.

This is much more than just a coming of age story. It is a look into the lives of those struggling to understand what is happening to them. It is a story about the awful grace of God and the ordinary grace of God. When his sister's body is found, the story becomes a mystery as Frank tries to unravel the relationships that would cause one to take the life of another.

The author has given readers much to think about in this novel. How would we face the tragic loss of a loved one at the hands of another?
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Red Rock Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a story to which everyone of a "certain age" can easily relate. The story has a beautiful simplicity that reflects the earlier time it so accurately depicts. It is filled with the genuine, often flawed, characters that inhabit most small towns and whisks the reader back to a time when a real treat was attending a 10 cent movie or enjoying a cold drink or a chocolate sundae at the corner drug store.

It is now 40 years after the fateful summer of 1961 and Frank Drum, son of a Methodist minister, is taking a retrospective look at that time in the small Minnesota town where he and his brother Jake experienced the events that have defined the men they have become.

Ordinary Grace, is an extraordinary coming-of-age novel that is at times reminiscent of Stephen King's THE BODY (or if you are a movie buff rather than a reader, the movie STAND BY ME) and Harper Lee's TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD as it documents the strength of a father, the depth of friendship and the horrors of misfortune while capturing small town life and the profound and enduring bonds of sibling love.

Krueger has a talent for drawing the reader in with the beautiful word pictures he paints and captures the deeply layered aspects of every situation without making them convoluted. His writing is simple without being simplistic, poignant and expressive without being maudlin, and manages to be touching and inspiring without resorting to lecturing and moralizing.
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