Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson's Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family—which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother—he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.

My take: 2.5 looks
This looked suspiciously like a Christian fiction book at first, but with the smattering of minor curse words, takes it out of the running for church libraries across the Bible-belt-south. It was a nice story, told from the perspective of the older brother, 40 years later. The action moves a little sluggish at times, and the reader is torn between a murder-mystery and a character study. I don't think the author ever figured it out, either.

With several (large) loose threads hanging, this felt like a book written in the infancy of an author's trade, however a look at Krueger's bio and you'll see that he has over 20 books spanning more than a decade. That info makes the book even more disappointing. The action pics up at the end, making the last 75 or so pages fly by, but it was simply mediocre. I can't recommend this one with so many better novels available.

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