I read this book yesterday and could hardly put it down. It’s beautifully written and it gave me a lot to think about. Here’s the review from Goodreads:
From New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger comes a brilliant new novel about a young man, a small town, and murder in the summer of 1961.
New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were at the ready at Halderson’s Drug Store soda counter, 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 summer in which death assumed many forms.
When tragedy unexpectedly comes to call on his family, which includes his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Juilliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his years kid brother, Frank finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal.
On the surface, Ordinary Grace is the story of the murder of a beautiful young woman, a beloved daughter and sister. At heart, it’s the story of what that tragedy does to a boy, his family, and ultimately the fabric of the small town in which he lives. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, it is a moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.
At the end of the story, in the epilogue, Frank says this:
“I’m a teacher of history in a high school in Saint Paul and what I know from my studies and from my life is that there is no such thing as a true event. We know dates and times and locations and participants but accounts of what happened depend upon the perspective from which the event is viewed.”
To that I might add, those accounts also depend on the perspective of the person by whom the event was recorded. I’ve been reading dozens of histories of people, ancestors and their neighbors this last week. I’m realizing more and more that the person who records history owns that story, or that history. They have control over what is remembered or even known by others years later. It’s sometimes a frightening thought, to someone, like me, who writes every day. I want to get it right without too much of my own slant, but I’m afraid that’s impossible. I am slant. So I need to get myself right.
I also loved this closing paragraph of the novel:
“We turn, three men bound by love, by history, by circumstance, and most certainly by the awful grace of God, and together walk a narrow lane where headstones press close all around, reminding me gently of Warren Redstone’s parting wisdom, which I understand now. The dead are never far from us. They’re in our hearts and on our minds and in the end all that separates us from them is a single breath, one final puff of air.”
I feel my beloved family members near, they are just one puff of air away.