In ORDINARY GRACE, William Kent Krueger departs from his Cork O’Connor series with a stand-alone title, and it is a winner. Set in New Bremen, a small town in Minnesota in 1961 during what we know as “The Kennedy Years,” this coming-of-age story is beautifully told in a style that reminds me of some of my favorite Southern writers, which is interesting since Krueger is Midwestern through and through. The prose wraps around you, and suddenly you look up and wonder where you are as the writing has been so vivid and clear that your sense of place has been redefined.
It’s plotted with the care that readers know to expect from Krueger --- writing that says to you, “This is a right fine storyteller telling this tale.” Krueger’s past success has come from mystery writing, and his attention to that craft has driven him to get the pacing here just right. It ambles and flows like that summer of 1961 staccato-ed with the fireworks on the 4th and lazy days of growing up --- and then is punctuated by acts of violence that shatter the status quo.
The son of a preacher, Frank is just 13 when death comes to his small town, and the story is told from his viewpoint 40 years later. Wrongs have happened, rights have to be done, and looking back he can see how for that long summer while his brother was stuttering his way through life, more happened to his family than they all saw at that time.
Our early reader reaction to this book in our Sneak Peek feature has echoed my sentiments. Many have also told us that they are going back to read Krueger’s earlier work now. For book groups, ORDINARY GRACE has a lot to discuss. A hands-down winner!