By: William Kent Krueger

Published: March 26, 2013

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.

I was anxious to read ORDINARY GRACE as there had already been many wonderful reviews for it.  I met Krueger in 2008 and even though I haven’t read his Cork O’Conner series, I was still a big fan of his.  I’m not typically a mystery reader, but I just may have to try out that series after hearing him talk about it again. To read about my chat with him in 2008, click HERE. He was a delight then and stardom hasn’t changed him one bit.  He was still charming, witty, and modest.  

ORDINARY GRACE is a bit historical fiction and a bit mystery.  Even though murders are happening in this small Minnesota town, the novel still leaves you feeling good about family, friends and having faith.  I read this book in a day and a half after hearing that Krueger was again coming back to our area.  I couldn’t pass up the chance to see him again.  But, I think I would have read it quickly regardless.  The book worked its way into my mind and heart.  While reading in between loads of laundry, I couldn’t stop thinking about Frank and Jake.  As the mom of 2 boys at the same age as these boys, it made me wonder about how my own boys would have handled such circumstances in the book.  Jake is a stutterer and this also make Jake reside close to my heart.  

William Kent Krueger reading from ORDINARY GRACE

There were numerous twists and turns in this story and just when I thought I had it all figured out, a new angle was brought into the story and left me rethinking all that had happened.  Krueger truly has a gift for storytelling in a way that brings your heart and your head into it.  When reading a book, I’m always looking for the way the title is brought into the story and I loved the subtle way he worked it in.  Krueger fits it in when you least expect it and makes the least expected person shine as the hero of the story.  

When tragedy strikes, many of us feel we can’t go on,  that our life is over, but I think Krueger said it best in this novel:

“We keep doing what we always do and someday it’ll feel right again.” Pg 196  

“I thought if a man who’d lost everything could still see the beauty in a sunset then sooner or later things would look up for Jake and me and our family.” Pg 198 

I really fell in love with this story and have thought about it many times after finishing it a week ago.  I am quite confident this will be a top book of 2013.

William Kent Krueger and me

William Kent Krueger, or Kent as he allowed us to call him, stated the story idea for ORDINARY GRACE came to him about 5 years ago.  He was looking for a way to join his spiritual journey and his writing journey  together.  The story for ORDINARY GRACE is partly based on his own summer that he was 13.  He wanted to be able to draw up some of those memories and dig deeper into his spiritual journey.  He spent 3 years working on ORDINARY GRACE, much of it listening to music from the 60’s to get into the spirit of the novel.  Kent truly feels this is the best thing he has ever written.  

Kent is best known for his Cork O’Conner series featuring a detective in the Northwoods (Northern Minnesota).  His 13th in the series, TAMARACK COUNTY, comes out August 20, 2013. For more on William Kent Krueger, visit his website HERE or “Like” him on Facebook HERE. If you get an opportunity to see him speak in your area, I highly recommend it!

To purchase a copy of ORDINARY GRACE, click the photo below:

You can also see all of William Kent Krueger’s books HERE.

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com. 

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  1. bermudaonion on May 10, 2013 at 11:37 am

    I loved this book too! Isn't Kent a great guy?!

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