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Ordinary Grace | [William Kent Krueger]

Ordinary Grace

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

“Krueger aims higher and hits harder with a stand-alone novel that shares much with his other work.” (Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (1718 )
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  •  
    Jen 03-29-13
    Jen 03-29-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Wonderful Wonderful - In Every Way"

    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.

    81 of 87 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Dale Foster Sykesville, MD 11-09-14
    Pamela Dale Foster Sykesville, MD 11-09-14 Member Since 2011

    I listen to and have recently started to write reviews. I've found the reviews have helped me to select books.

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    "By the Grace of God"

    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.






    20 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronna 04-10-13
    Ronna 04-10-13
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    "best book to come along this year!!"

    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!!

    76 of 86 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. North Minnesota 04-10-13
    B. North Minnesota 04-10-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Extrodinary Novel"

    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.

    22 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda 05-21-13
    Linda 05-21-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Very enjoyable!"

    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.

    37 of 45 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mel USA 01-03-15
    Mel USA 01-03-15 Member Since 2009
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    "Charming, Bittersweet, Pure Pleasure"

    “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.

    26 of 34 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AudioAddict 07-06-14
    AudioAddict 07-06-14

    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!

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    "More like an AMAZING Grace"

    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.

    17 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Bartonville, TX 04-14-13
    Susan Bartonville, TX 04-14-13 Member Since 2012

    Myst/thrillers and ✨fun fantasies✨are my favorites but always open for a good story.  

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    "Beautifully written....Wow"
    Any additional comments?

    A triple mystery and a tragedy that surround a Minnesota family in 1961.  A Methodist minister, a Mother who does her best to give her children every opportunity, a beautiful young Daughter getting ready to set off on her own and two young Brothers who are best buddies and full of angst. They live in a small town where everyone knows everyone's business and the mysterious death of a young boy sets all in motion. 

    This story  is a mind provoking reminder of how everything that happens shapes and changes our lives no matter how good or bad, small or large...... Some occurrences change us drastically over night, those life altering changes that none of us, fortunately/unfortunately, are immune too.  

    The author and narrator made this a wonderful listening experience. This was the first Krueger book I have listened to and it was a touching, rich, beautifully written story. Wonderful to see this story through the eyes  of a young man on the verge of manhood and all of the revelations that come along with that metamorphosis.

    Rich Orlow does a wonderful job with all the voices of a wide assortment of characters. His pace and timing are right on.  One of the better ones in my opinion and I will look for him in other works. 

    A great mystery. All things have their time:  birth, death and rebirth. 

    14 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marianne 04-22-13
    Marianne 04-22-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Amazingly captivating and eye-opening."
    If you could sum up Ordinary Grace in three words, what would they be?

    Transformative, gracious and enlightened.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The stuttering younger brother with his down to earth honesty and sensibility.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The fathers sermon after the death of his daughter.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    19 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Pontiflet Fairfield, CA USA 03-17-15
    R. Pontiflet Fairfield, CA USA 03-17-15 Member Since 2015

    retired writer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beyond Ordinary ~ Coming of Age Murder Mystery"

    This remarkable coming of age story is told by 13 year-old Frank Drum. The story moves at a steady and consistent pace. It held my attention until the very end. The story reminded me of "To Kill A Mockingbird" in many ways as it deals with life issues which are impacted by issues of morality or immorality. Frank's father is the town's Preacher so the story has teaching moments throughout. The overall story has a bit of racism, some mental health issues, and religious activities. My favorite scenes were where Frank would hang around corners eavesdropping on adult conversations. The story is well written and well narrated. I recommend.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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  • c
    WALSALL, United Kingdom
    12/14/14
    Overall
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    Story
    "Far from an Ordinary Thriller"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Ordinary Grace?

    The over-whelming impact on the Drum family of the various incidents that unfold. Tremendous writing.


    What about Rich Orlow’s performance did you like?

    Sensitively read and nothing 'over the top' which would have ruined the delicate balance of this novel


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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