Monday, November 7, 2016


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Rating: 3 of 5 stars

My latest read Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger is narrated by Frank, a man who reflects on a summer consumed with death, destruction and lost opportunities when he was 13 years old. The story begins with the death of a young boy, Bobby Cole, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. From there, the reader is welcomed into a small, quaint town where the plot is slowly developed and extreme care and detail is put into the development of the characters and their surroundings. The story includes Frank's older sister, Ariel, who has inherited her musical talent from Frank's mother and his younger brother, Jake, who has a speech impediment. Frank's father, Nathan, who had initially planned a career as an attorney but changed his course as a result of serving in the military during war time, and is now the local Methodist minister. Frank's mother is a housewife who begrudgingly serves in the church, feeling as though she got a little less than she bargained for when Nathan became a minister.

My favorite character is Frank's brother, Jake, who tries to remain insignificant because of his stutter, but throughout the book emerges as the most empathetic and thoughtful character. I also enjoyed the religious themes in this book. The author put the Nathan, the minister, in a positive light by portraying him as open-minded and indiscriminating. (For me it was certainly welcomed during a time when religion/Christian-bashing is a societal norm.) In addition to religion, specifically Christianity, the book touches on various other dark themes: racial discrimination, people labeled as outcasts due to physical limitations, homosexuality, and statutory rape.

My major complaint with the novel is I had a bit of difficulty getting into it and finding my reading pace. I found the writing to be very descriptive, painting a vivid picture. However, it took about half of the book to get to the crux of the story. The benefit of plowing through this relatively short novel (300 pages) is that the loose ends are neatly tied at the end. The epilogue was most touching, and the last line of it was my favorite part of this book:
The dead are never far from us. They're in our hearts and on our minds and in the end all that separates us from them is a a single breath, one final puff of air. 
Recommendation: The gem in Ordinary Grace is that it beautifully shares ordinary lessons and themes in an extraordinary way. I would recommend this book for someone who is willing to invest the time in the slow plot development for its rewarding ending.

Until next time ... Read on!


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