The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

ORDINARY GRACE: A Novel By William Kent Krueger

Ordinary Grace by William Kent KruegerPublisher:  Atria Books
Release Date:  March 26, 2013
Pages:  307
Genre:  Historical Fiction/Mystery

Book Description:  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.

Wanda's Thoughts:  This beautifully written and heartwarming story takes place in New Bremen, Minnesota in 1961, a small town where nothing is private. I loved the time-frame, and was easily transported back to the 1960’s. This is a story that will stir your soul, a story layered with dark secrets and tangled truths.

The story was brought to life with an entourage of unique characters. The author really managed to get into the hearts and minds of these very realistic and complex characters. And the storyline was filled with plot twists and cleverly concealed clues that kept me guessing until the end. 

One small quibble – parts of the storyline were a bit drawn out, and I didn’t want to skim because I was afraid I’d miss a clue. That being said, the book was powerful, insightful, tragic and inspirational. It is a story that will touch your heart. My rating is 4 stars.

William Kent Krueger
The Author
William Kent Krueger is a multi award-winning American author and crime writer, best known for his Cork O'Connor series of books, which is mainly set in Minnesota. USA. In 2005 and 2006, he won back to back Anthony Awards for best novel - a feat only matched by one other writer since the award's inception.

William Kent Krueger has stated that he dates his desire to be a writer back to the third grade, when a story he wrote called The Walking Dictionary was so well received by teachers and parents that he was inspired by their praise. Throughout an early life that saw him logging timber, digging ditches, working in construction, and being published as a freelance journalist, he never stopped writing.

He attended Stanford University but his academic path was cut short when he came into conflict with the university's administration during student protests of spring 1970.

He wrote short stories and sketches for many years, but it was not until the age of 40 that he finished the manuscript of his first novel, Iron Lake. A book which went on to win the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Barry Award for Best First Novel, the Minnesota Book Award, and the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award.

William Kent Krueger lives with his wife and family in St Paul, Minnesota.