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Ordinary Grace

Title:  Ordinary Grace
Author:  William Kent Krueger
Pages:  320
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Atria Books
                Set in the summer season of 1961 in New Bremen, Minnesota, the story is told from the point of view of Frank, the eldest of two sons.  Their father is a Methodist minister who originally planned an altogether different career.  Then a war came, which had a deep impact on him.  Ruth, his wife, is musically gifted and it seems to have been passed on to their only daughter, Ariel.  With supporting characters with different theologies, ideologies and life experiences, the author crafts a tale that shares three main tragedies in this town.
                Not all New Bremen residents are sure who the killer could be or even if the deaths are homicides.  Among the more prominent residents is a female composer who most think is addled and those who imbibe too much and too often.  Some of the younger characters are searching for an escape from shattered lives; others are recipients of cultural hate.  Note:  There is foul language in the novel that at times seems way too excessive and unnecessary.  There is a very brief scene where a man, who is still clothed, gropes part of a clothed woman’s anatomy.
                I was born in the year this fictional story takes place, so I enjoyed having my own memories stirred of my youth.  When I started reading the novel, I wasn’t sure how far I could read because of some of the language, but then the author would write for a long while before using that verbiage again. How the author takes community events, both positive and negative, brings them to the homes as topics the characters talk about as a family or with confidants made me wonder if we talk about what is happening in our communities as openly and honestly in our families today.  My parents tended to try and shield us from what was occurring, though like Frank and his brother in the novel, my siblings and I found ways to discover what was happening.  I think it probable that children want to know due to their love of family or other people, as well as knowing what’s going on tends to bring more security than being left in the dark.
                The ending and prologue of the novel tie the whole work of fiction together to show us how our views change from that of a young child to adulthood, and that we tend to gain understanding as our perspectives are broadened.  I believe it is accurate too that we empathize with our parents when we become older even if we may not become parents ourselves.  Above all, we have a choice to either view life clearly with God or not.  The characters wrestle with their faith growing in response to the tragedies they and others suffer.  We can either grow closer to the Lord and others during trials or we can look elsewhere and come up empty.
                My rating is 3 ½ stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at

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