Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kreuger

Yesterday I finished another Kindle ebook, Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. I was very impressed that Krueger has captured an honest and realistic portrait of a Methodist parsonage family. Having been married to a United Methodist clergyman for over 41 years, and having lived in nine parsonages, I am quite familiar with what the life is like.

The novel is told from the viewpoint of the middle child,  Frank Drum, who in 1961 is thirteen years old. Frank is the rebellious child, breaking rules set for his protection. His older sister is a musical prodigy, and his younger brother at age eleven follows Frank everywhere.

Their father is a patient, good man, but whose experience in the Korean War left him with personal demons. After the war he gave up the idea of becoming a lawyer and went into ministry, to the vexation of his talented and beautiful wife who had not signed up for being a pastor's wife. They live in a small town in Minnesota, where expectations for the family are high-- and constricting.

Over the summer a series of events force Frank and his family to reevaluate everything they thought they knew about each other, their community, and God. Their reactions are rendered spot-on by Krueger, as is how they individually and as a family move on from tragedy. There is a mystery to be solved, with enough red herrings to keep the reader guessing.

I appreciate that the faith issues are honestly portrayed, without mawkish or trivial sentiments to cheapen the story. Real people struggle with anger at God, loss of faith, and their religious commitment. The 'ordinary grace' that resolves the story's faith journey is the miracle of a child's simple faith that begins the healing for which Frank is so desperate.

To learn more about the author visit

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