Award-winning author William Kent Krueger has gained an immense fan base for his Cork O’Connor series. In Ordinary Grace, Krueger looks back to 1961 to tell the story of Frank Drum, a boy on the cusp of manhood. A typical 13-year-old with a strong, loving family, Frank is devastated when a tragedy forces him to face the unthinkable - and to take on a maturity beyond his years.
©2013 William Kent Krueger (P)2013 Recorded Books
“Krueger aims higher and hits harder with a stand-alone novel that shares much with his other work.” (Kirkus Reviews)
This book is beautiful. Just brilliant. It's a mystery that takes place in Minnesota in 1961 with classic literature; very reminiscent of To Kill A Mockingbird. So much so that I found myself listening to this story in black and white.
A beautiful tale with a 'morals in an immoral world' theme. One of the main characters is a wonderful peaceful father who has to guide his children through the animalistic ways of mankind. The family in this book are that of the town's minister's which lends itself to discussions of religion.
Once started I was completely immersed in each member of this family and all the people that they come in contact with. I plowed through this for I could NOT put this down. Just when I thought I saw a direction this was going - I found myself surprised.
I have never read this author before. If you have, be very careful to read the synopsis carefully for this is a stand alone book. I would be thrilled if this would become a series book though.
Rich Orlow is such an enhancement to this story by giving every character an identity. He does the voice of the deaf, women, men, children, Indians, aristocrats to perfection. What a talent.
I will be looking for this author and narrator other works.
After a series of great murder mysteries, staring Cork O'Conner, Kruger has come up with a genius of a stand alone coming of age, murder mystery, and trestles on the "awful grace of God".
Our of the best books that I've ever read.
Frank is telling his story some forty years after the actual events that took place during his thirteenth year. In 1961, small town Minnesota, the summer is hot, the people know everything about everyone, and life is good. But this all changes when a young boy is killed while playing on the train tracks. Frank , and his stuttering younger brother, speculate about this tragedy. Their father is the town's Methodist minister, and folks look to him to answer the preverbal question of "Why would God let this happen?".
But that was just the beginning of this momentous summer for Frank, his family, and this small town. There will be three more deaths. An itinerant man is found amongst the weeds, there is a suicide, and finally a murder. Everyone in the town is affected by these tragedies in some way---bringing out the best and the worst in people.
Kruger's writing is filled with wonderful descriptive phrases. His characters will touch your heart in ways that will be difficult to put away after you've finished this book. His specific and thoughtful discussions of God's grace as seen through Frank's eyes will keep you wondering about your own faith. Simply a five, no five times five star read. This book has something for every reader to enjoy!!
This book works on many levels. It is a mystery story, you won't want to put it down. Most of all Ordinary Grace is an extraordinary work of fiction. It is a coming of age story with themes of family, sorrow, justice, resiliency, forgiveness, and perhaps most of all faith.
If you like any one book of any one of the following authors I think you will like this book: John Irving, Kent Haruf, Leif Enger, Marilynne Robinson, David James Duncan.
Also, I really appreciate when audible adds the author interview after the reading, this one was interesting.
I listen to and have recently started to write reviews. I've found the reviews have helped me to select books.
The coming of age can certainly make a boy of 13 grow up fast. Frank Drum was that boy. He definitely has a story to tell.
There are many participant's in this story and each of them have their own story to tell. These character's are very well developed. The reader will come to know each one as an individual. Listen closely because each one of them are important in contributing to the coming of age of Frank Drum.
I definitely encourage other's to purchase this book. The plot is very well developed. The characters are interesting people and the author, William Kent Krueger, wrote about them so that the listener will want to continue reading to the very last page. The narrator, Rich Orlow, is excellent. He makes the character's come alive. He makes listening to, Ordinary Grace, a pleasure and an easy listen.
The mystery of who committed the murders that summer in Breman, a small town where everyone knows everyone else, is difficult to understand. Why would anyone want to end the life of another?
Always remember that the dead are never far from us, just one single breath will take us to them.
and a penny for your thoughts
I am shocked by the five-star reviews on this book. I have not read the authors previous books so I can only speak about this one when I say his writing style is juvenile and almost laughable at times. He try's too hard to The extreme overuse of similes is distracting. I felt he was trying to be profound rather than just telling an honest story. I read a lot and I have never read an author so self-indulgent.
There wasn't much plot which normally wouldn't be a problem for me. I like character analysis but these characters were uninteresting and overly simplistic, almost caricatures. There were so many physical handicaps in that small town I began to wonder about incest.
The reader was OK. I think he did the best he could with the material.
I do not recommend this book unless you can borrow it from a friend or get it for a $1.95. I happened to get this on the daily special but I would be sorely disappointed if I had used one of my credits.
“It was a summer in which death, in visitation, assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder. I still spend a lot of time thinking about the events of that summer. About the terrible price of wisdom. The awful grace of God.”
Frank Drum begins his story, looking back over forty years to this fateful summer in 1961 when he was 13 yrs. old. The story is immediately familiar and the nostalgia consuming. Krueger writes poetically, creating an idyllic summer so vividly the years tick backwards. For many it will recall that well-known coming of age through tragedy, Stephen King's The Body (movie: Stand By Me). There are similarities, but Krueger's story is a murder mystery tucked into a gentle and sweet tale, focused on family, small town secrets, and spiritual struggles, more than the physical threats of big brothers, dead bodies, and junk-yard dogs.
In addition to being a New York Times Bestseller, Ordinary Grace recently won the 2014 Edgar Award For Best Novel, the 2014 Dilys Award, and has been selected as a *School Library Journal Best Book Of 2013. I'm not familiar with the author's Cork O'Connor series and can't speak to any comparison, but I found this book completely charming and captivating. Krueger's ability to create a soothing kindness through his choice of words, even in the midst of violence, death, and some (mild) sexual encounters, is remarkable. The novel deals with a multitude of *delicate* issues with frankness and compassion instead of sensationalism. Moments like the Reverend's sermon after a death (I won't spoil it by divulging the victim) are healing balms, so beautifully written they are all the *church* you could hope for.
There are some stereotypes and clichés, some sentimentality, but it all seems fresh and original, they are so well used, and so much a part of the period. You may see the ending coming, may figure out the murderer, may even question little brother Jake's keen insight, but any concerns are lost in the overall beauty and grace of this novel. It may not be the block buster everyone is talking about, but for me it was a pure pleasure reading this novel; one of my favorites of 2014.
**The School Library Journal is a monthly magazine with articles and reviews for school librarians, media specialists, and public librarians who work with young people. They have this book listed as an "Adult Books 4 Teens." I would say use your own discretion.
I cannot find the words to express the contemplative quiet this novel invoked in me. As an atheist I usually do not care for themes of faith and especially preaching. This book discusses life's questions against the backdrop of a young man and his family dynamics. However, the story is nicely woven and stands on its own regardless of the deeper thoughts.
I LOVE books. And dogs & quilting & beading & volunteering.
Wm Krueger has written an emotionally charged story of, primarily, the coming of age of two young boys in 1961 rural Minnesota. The sons of a local preacher and mother who gave up a career to marry their older sister is the family star. When a series of misfortunes hit the town this family is torn apart as are other characters.
Speaking of characters, Krueger has developed each person in his novel with grace and thoroughness, telling not only about their summer of ;'61 but their pasts. I enjoyed Gus very much and felt he added a lot to the boys growth.
The conclusion surprised me a lot and In mysteries I find that a welcome part of a story arc.
I feel fortunate to have listened to two 5 star novels in a row thru Audible. These both were books I would never have purchased were it not for Audibles Return policy for members..I am encouraged to try authors I've never heard of before.
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (historical fiction) - This story reminds me of the movie "Stand By Me." It is set in a small town in Minnesota in the early sixties and is told by Frank who, now grown, is looking back on one particular summer of his youth which was plagued with numerous tragedies. The book is very character-driven, and by the end you will know each character intimately. In small town USA everyone knows everyone's business and , when tragedies strikes, it affects the whole town. Ordinary Grace is about how this town deals with sadness and the mysteries surrounding that sadness. It is a coming-of-age story with elements of personal growth, faith, family, death, forgiveness......life.
I might have rated the book a 5, but it was a little slow getting started, in my opinion. There are two very touching parts of the story, and it's hard to describe them without giving away part of the mystery. Hints: Nathan gives a very touching sermon after someone's death. The best part of the book is the "Ordinary Grace," which is more like an Amazing Grace.
PERFORMANCE - The narrator is male. He had a pleasant voice and did a good job distinguishing between the different characters.
OVERALL - Only mild references to sex and pregnancy, and I don't recall any foul language. The book stands on its own. The story is interesting and emotional, but it's not so intricate that you have to pay close attention for fear of missing something. Recommended for all mature listeners, male or female.
Transformative, gracious and enlightened.
The stuttering younger brother with his down to earth honesty and sensibility.
The fathers sermon after the death of his daughter.
The reader did a magnificent job distinguishing the different characters and lending honesty to the description of people in distress and confusion without ever over dramatizing any one person or event. Well done.
It was a pleasure to listen to.
"Far from an Ordinary Thriller"
Yes I would happily recommend this novel. It's extremely well written with good quality characterisations that hold your interest and really make you care about what happens to each of them.
The over-whelming impact on the Drum family of the various incidents that unfold. Tremendous writing.
Sensitively read and nothing 'over the top' which would have ruined the delicate balance of this novel
The burden put onto the father of the Drum family. I'm not a believer in the religious sense and at times it could have been so easy to feel an edge of impatience taking over, but it's so well written that finally I just couldn't fail to be moved by his stoicism.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this novel. The descriptive passages devoted to both the locations, era and characters made it a memorable experience. There are no particularly gripping moments or shocking revelations here but taken as a 'whole' this is a murder mystery that will not fail to grip you and will stay with you long after you've finished it. For me, that's the test of a good book.
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