Ordinary Grace

I  loved Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger on so many levels! Told from the perspective of a 13 year old boy in 1961 small town New Bremen, Minnesota, it is a riveting read that will make you want to cry for both the complexity and the simplicity of life at that time.

Frank Drum and his younger brother Jake are facing a summer that will change their lives forever. The story starts with “All the dying that summer began with the death of a child, a boy with golden hair and thick glasses, killed on the railroad tracks outside New Bremen, Minnesota, sliced into pieces by a thousand tons of steel speeding across the prairie toward South Dakota’. Adult Frank reflects, “I’ve come four decades since but I’m not sure that even now I fully understand. 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.”

The summer of innocence begins as it did for many small town kids back then… hot dogs, baseball games, bike trips with friends, comic books. Frank’s Dad, a war veteran turned Methodist minister and his passionate, musically gifted mother allow their children the freedom to roam without the all-consuming limits and constraints that are put on 21st century youngsters. In this state of relative independence, Frank and Jake fall upon a tragedy that will turn the town upside down and change lives forever. Belief systems will be challenged and the power/goodness of God questioned.

Woven throughout this tale is the destructive influence of racism and how the power of negative belief systems can destroy families and communities. And yet, we also witness the power of faith, kindness and acceptance. This is a gem of a story!

— Nancy C.