In New Bremen, Minnesota, in the year 1961, thirteen year old Frank is about to experience a summer full of tragedy and will become immersed in a story full of anger, betrayal, lies, adultery, and prejudice.
Frank is growing up in this small town the son of a Methodist minister and a frustrated artistic mother. His older sister is headed for Julliard and his younger brother tags behind him, self-conscious of his stuttering problems. Many of the men in the town have been greatly affected, spiritually, physically, and emotionally by their participation in recent wars. It is against this backdrop that a 40-year old Frank looks back at his youth to tell the story of this tragic summer, a summer when faith, families, friendships, and communities will be tested.
I really loved the storytelling style – very simple and straightforward yet engaging. Although the story is told by the 40-year old Frank, it feels as though it is being told a thirteen year old boy growing up in a small town, the thoughts and behaviors are so perfectly remembered and shared. Small touches made me smile and captured the setting perfectly – the music, the peanut-butter and jelly and red Kool-Aid, hot rods, swimming holes.
Not so much a mystery (I was not surprised by the ending), this is a coming-of-age story, a story about a simple life that becomes extremely complicated quickly, a story about a boy that grows up too fast, and a story about the ordinary graces that ultimately redeem us.
“In your dark night, I urge you to hold to your faith, to embrace hope, and to bear your love before you like a burning candle, for I promise that it will light your way. And whether you believe in miracles or not, I can guarantee that you will experience one. It may not be the miracle you’ve prayed for. God probably won’t undo what’s been done. The miracle is this: that you will rise in the morning and be able to see again the startling beauty of the day”.
Title: Ordinary Grace
Author: William Kent Krueger
Publication: Atria Books, March 2013