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)
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
I had high hopes for this story based on the positive and generally affectionate reviews from the author’s loyal fans. I was therefore disappointed that in my opinion, the story, while generally good, had some execution flaws that brought it down. The narrative is saturated with similies and metaphors, many of them repeated more than once, that were distracting in their lack of imagination. The dialogue felt self-conscious and stilted, leaning way too often into golly gee “Leave it to Beaver” territory. An editor needed to help delete a few scenes that added nothing to either plot progression or character development (a marriage counseling session for instance). And the narration, while not the fault of the author, was only adequate, especially in the interpretation of the dialogue – generally failing to communicate genuine emotions of the characters.
Regarding the plot, as I said, it was generally good, and I did develop affection for some of the characters, especially Gus, Jake and Dad. There were a couple of characters who seemed to be written as though they had greater impact on the story but then kind of fizzled out red herring style. I figured out the solution very quickly and was impatient with the wrap up. I give it about a 2.5, so I’ll round up to 3 stars, and probably won’t be looking for more from this author.
Enjoying one good listen after the next!
In some ways this is a "coming of age-coming to Jesus story"; but it is much more too. Circa 1961, a preacher's kid encounters personal losses and moral decisions that prove to be too much for a twelve year old boy.
This is an enormously satisfying story of a family and community that is at once ordinary and yet very unusual. Discrimination against Native Americans and those handicapped is visceral and leads to behaviors and decisions that create enormous hurts. The mystery of three deaths, all on or near the river are central to the story.
In the end, a young boy and his brother are faced with grave, all consuming decisions that will shape their lives forever.
The narration is superb, the story engaging and awe-inspiring.
I've just discovered this author. And I'm so glad I have. I can't wait to discover more of his books. The narration by Rich Orlow is absolutely outstanding. Highly recommended listening.
I expect this book to be required reading for future generations. It is so moving, so well written. I recommend this book to anyone who appreciates good writing.
An uncommon pleasure.
That's just it, I cannot compare it to any books that I have read. It stands alone in an uncommon way.
No I have not, but would very much like to again. He was terrific.
This was the first book I have read from this author. I just hope that he continues to write with the passion that obviously went into this book.
The depth of character development and the themes explored are worth the investment of time.
The themes that are explored are universal in life. The author has a deft touch in exploring these themes and is in touch with the emotions they evoke.
I laughed and cried at the beauty of the words and the depth of exploration.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to explore forgiveness and grace. The author knows this subject not just intellectually but personally.
A librarian who loves to read, whether in print or in the air
More than just a mystery, this coming of age novel examines how people respond so differently when tragedy strikes a small community. While a little slow paced, and not the best at making the mystery a real mystery, the book captures a particular time and place very well, and the ways in which God' grace is present in people's lives
Say something about yourself! I am a runner and avid listener to books. Audible allow me to do my two favorite things at the same time.
As a Jew the concept of Grace is not something we theologically discuss to any great extent. Thus, I hesitated at first because of the title and the beginning overtones of the book. I was rapidly engrossed in the story and wanted to get to know the characters better. The story line, one of loss and coming of age in the early 1960's in Minnesota hit close to home even though it involved a minister's family. The story one of great pain at times was rough to listen to because I identified with Frank and Jake and their parents' at through out the story. I appreciated Krueger's ability to work with the pain and the fall out from it and the quiet love of the family. It is the journey of acceptance and integrity and moving with the pain that I loved.
It is hard to put down, well worth your time and your credits. Enjoy!
An enjoyable quasi-murder mystery, quasi-Bildungsroman set along a river and railroad in a rural Minnesota community in the summer of 1961. With its 14-year-old preacher's son as protagonist, this tale called in me reflections upon growing up and how the mind either magnifies or trivializes the memories of our youth. It caused me to also contemplate the role of religion in coming of age, the bonds between siblings, and, to a somewhat lesser degree, white's relations with American Indians, racism, suicide and bigotry toward those who are "different," specifically, based on deafness, race, sexuality, blindness, and physical deformities.
In other words, the book is loaded, but in a good way.
The narration was perfect.
I liked the idea of a 1960's coming-of-age story mixed with a mystery. The problem is that this novel did not succeed in either of those areas. Very little happened in the first half of the novel. References to Brillcream, Risk, and Gunsmoke were not enough to make that golden era of childhood come alive, and I am from that generation! The characters and world were not interesting enough for that to work without more plot. Frank is the 13 year-old protagonist, who lives with a younger brother who stutters (and gets bullied), an older sister, and his parents, a minister, and a mother unhappy being the wife of a minister. The big mystery occurs halfway through the novel, when a major character disappears. The story picked up at that point. It moved from a 2-star to a 3-star book then. A good reader helped, too. This novel felt like something I had read many times in the past. I might have liked it more had it seemed fresher to me. Ultimately, it did provide a pleasant way to pass the time, but not much more.
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