Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ordinary Grace” as Want to Read:
Ordinary Grace
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ordinary Grace

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  60,334 ratings  ·  7,927 reviews
“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.” New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. Frank Drum begins the summer preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family—which includes his Methodist minist ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 26th 2013 by Atria Books (first published 2013)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ordinary Grace, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Gaelyn Melissa!!! You need to read Boy's Life by Robert McCammon, one of the most underrated books ever! It has all the things you want. It's a coming of age…moreMelissa!!! You need to read Boy's Life by Robert McCammon, one of the most underrated books ever! It has all the things you want. It's a coming of age story set around a murder mystery with lots of magic realism thrown in the mix AND a very strong father figure. It is not suspenseful throughout per se, but it gears up towards the end. Look it up on this because it has a high rating (4.31 stars) and lots of 5 star reviews. Also, I agree that you should also give Peace Like a River a look as well.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  60,334 ratings  ·  7,927 reviews

Sort order
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel bad for the next book I plan to read, because Ordinary Grace is a very hard act to follow.

This book is very different from the author’s Cork O’Connor mystery series. Mr. Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace from his heart. He has said that writing it was easier than any other novel he has written before, and he feels it is the best piece of writing he has ever done. This is the fourth book in the last year and a half that made me cry, and the second that was written by William Kent Krueger. I wis
James Thane
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
At the beginning of the summer of 1961, Frank Drum is thirteen years old and living in the small community of New Bremen, Minnesota. It's a summer that will change his life forever, and his story, told from Frank's perspective forty years later, will resonate with readers for a very long time.

Ordinary Grace is a stand-alone from William Kent Krueger, an author best known for his Cork O'Connor mystery series. But this is not a crime novel in the traditional sense, although a number of crimes are
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adored this book. It stirred so many emotions within me, and for that I have to give it 5 stars. It is a wonderful coming-of-age story, complete with a small-town atmosphere and a mystery surrounding the quiet, unassuming community of New Bremen, Minnesota. We are told on the very first page that “It was a summer in which death, in visitation, assumed many forms.” But, this book is about much more than just the mystery; it is a story about friendship, brotherhood, family dynamics and bonds, de ...more
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
4.5 stars

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, is a beautifully written hard to put down novel full of twists and turns. William Kent Krueger is mostly know for his multiple-award-winning Cork O'Connor series. Ordinary Grace is a stand alone novel and is the Winner of the 2014 EDGAR Award for Best Novel, a Winner of the 2014 DILYS Award and was A SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST BOOK OF 2013.

This book is narrated by Frank Drum, 40 years after a fateful summer when he was thirteen years old in New
A quiet novel that unfurls its sad story slowly, but eloquently, leaving its mark on your heart.

Found this book on Goodreads, thanks to my friends here! It's truly a beautiful melancholic story about a boy growing up, the grief of a family tragedy, the love and the unbreakable bonds of a family, the strong bond of young brothers... beautifully written, the book radiates a 'quiet beauty'. Reminded me of The Round House (Louise Erdrich). Dark and warm at the same time. About the Ordinary Grace o
There is a quote in the book where it talks about the “awful Grace of God”.

The meaning of ‘awful’ as an adjective:
1. extremely bad; unpleasant; disagreeable.
2. inspiring fear; terrible: an awful noise.
3. solemnly impressive: the awful majesty of the peaks.
4. extremely dangerous, risky, injurious, etc.: an awful fall; to take an awful chance.
5. Informal. very great: an awful lot of money.
6. full of awe; reverential.

What I find sad is that we almost always hear the word in its 1st, 2nd, 4th,
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5.0 STARS!

Warning: Reader discretion is advised. This book contains sweet, sirenically addictive prose that can warm your heart, flood your eyes with tears and induce a deeply meditative state in which the reader ignores time and place to ponder nostalgically the enchanting, soothing, carefree days of youth. Various psychiatric studies have determined that literature of this nature can result in higher levels of affective empathy, compassion, understanding, emotional perception, prosocial beha
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully told story of a family living in New Bremen during 1961 experiencing some good times along with heartaches that somehow appear unexpectedly on the door step of most individuals. Told from the perspective of a young boy Frank Drum, 13 years old, who has much on his shoulders as he strives to do the right thing, but not always succeeding. Frank loves many things in his life including his younger brother Jake who stutters most of time and he tries his best to protect him from the bull ...more
Paula Kalin
A Brilliant coming-of-age story set in Minnesota in the 1960s. Ordinary Grace is a story of family and community, tragedy and secrets, compassion and forgiveness. A wonderful story of life experiences written in beautiful prose. Most enjoyable is that it's told from the narrator's perspective 40 years later.

A must read.
5 out of 5 stars.
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing, bittersweet and poignant coming of age novel. Beautifully written with wonderful thoughts on loss, forgiveness and the "awful grace of God".

Update - I'm re-reading this for a book club. I had borrowed a kindle edition the first time I rad this and was able to highlight passages. Now my library is using Axis360 which does not allow for highlighting. So, I've been jotting down passages I wanted to remember. Come to find out, all the passages I'm writing down are the same as those previ
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ordinary Grace was an extraordinary read. It is set in the deep heat of the summer in 1961, in a small town of New Bremen, Minnesota where the story takes place for Frank and his family. It's a summer of death and darkness but also one of miracles and love. This is a story of relationships, of heartache and heartbreak. It is also about what happens when a family is pulled apart and is healed through the 'awful grace of God'. What an understated read with so many powerful messages. 5 stars.
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1961 was a great year - this book was based on that year, that's why is 1961 great. Recommended by a Goodreads friend, Ordinary Grace is like the roots of a tree, silently and solely burying in the soil to find treasure. Like the leaves stretching out to find the golden sun's rays.

I've gotten a bit tired of the murder victim in my book be a girl. I'm a bit over-saturated on that count. I only hope that this fact didn't deaden my sensitivity to this story, and I believe it didn't. Maybe if the gi
Probably more 3.5 stars.

This was a lovely book. I think many people will love it very much. I have my effervescent Goodreads friend Christine to thank for guiding me to this one, we both decided to read a book that both of us have loved, and it just happened to fit in at the same time for each of us. This was a brilliant idea, I’d recommend it.

My peculiar quirks do not suit all genres, I have learnt only just today. A book that is to be savoured and really pleasantly enjoyed and meandered throu
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I woke up in the middle of the night a week after finishing this story with a single word. I didn't write it down and try as I may, I can't quite get it back. Nonetheless, it is a good book that picks at your brain as you sleep. Having read my friends' reviews already, I feel there is little I can add and for that reason I will keep my review very brief.

This is a gorgeous story of discovery, both tangible and intangible, told in a languid manner that is reminiscent of the days that it describes.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4000-books
I am currently making my way through this author's Cork O'Connor series and enjoying them very much. So it was an easy step for me to pick up this stand alone novel and give it a try. So pleased I did because this is a beautiful book.

I love the easy, gentle characters that Krueger brings to his books. He seems to have an affinity with people who think deeply and people who care, but he can still portray the evil and the unkind when he needs to. I so enjoyed the many times in the story when the b
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jun 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of small town drama and coming of age stories
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Most of my friends
When the majority of your friends love a book that you didn't do you find yourself second guessing? Searching for that magic that everyone else felt and you missed? I won’t bore you by analyzing this to death (view spoiler) Worth reading and a solid 3 stars, ordinary rather than extraordinary.

Circa 1960’s told through the eyes of 13 yr old Frank Drum a series of deaths disrupt the lives of everyone
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ordinary Grace, a novel by William Kent Krueger is a beautiful and engaging novel and it certainly worked its magic on me. This is a short novel and it certainly proves good goods comes in small parcels.

Set in New Bremen, Minnesota in 1961. It was a time of innocence a hope for a country with a new young president. But for a thirteen year old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident, nature, suicide and murder. Told from Franks perspectiv
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The narrator of this story is Frank Drum, a 13-year-old boy who lives in a small Minnesota town with his family: younger brother Jake, who has a severe stutter; older sister Ariel, a talented musician destined for Julliard; father Nathan, an earnest Methodist pastor; and mother Ruth, choir director and superb singer who thought she was marrying a future lawyer and is not happy with her husband's vocation. The Drums are an average family with loving parents and nice children who behave as typical
Elyse Walters
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I FULLY enjoyed this glorious reading experience!!!

Frank's narration captures this entire page-turning-mystery-novel profoundly intimate.


I loved it -- I loved it -- I loved it!!
Yay! 5 stars! I was drawn into this story right away and my feelings never changed. It is a wonderful, but sad, coming of age story narrated 40 or so years after the events take place. I especially liked the character of Gus. I felt right there in the town of New Bremen, MN with everyone. Here are some some memorable lines:

"How could I possibly explain my silence, my complicity in his escape, things I really didn't understand myself? My heart had simply directed me in a way that my head couldn'
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
As I sat down to write my feelings about this book I had to ask myself "What do I want from you, the reader"? The answer: I'd like you to read this book and yet I wonder if I'm going to entice you.

Can an experienced, older narrator view the past with more wisdom than he might have possessed forty years earlier the summer he was thirteen? Ordinary Grace and another book I recently read Last Summer of the Camperdowns both study long ago events in childhood from the adult perspective. The latter is
Andrew Smith
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It feels like I’m the last person on Goodreads to get to this book! There are thousands of reviews on this site, so I’ll limit my comments to my views on my experience of listening to the audiobook, which was superbly read by Rich Orlow.

The first thing I’d say is that it started really slowly and for quite a while I really didn’t think I’d like it. In fact, I’d rate the first section of this book only 3 stars. My second observation is that by the midway point I was convinced I’d worked it all ou
A classic coming of age tale with well-drawn characters and wonderful sense of place for the setting of rural Minnesota in the early 60s. Frank recounts a fateful summer at age 16, when a set of deaths befell their small town and his family, and he stepped up to the plate to assume risks like a man in order to elucidate causes and seek justice. (To avoid spoilers don’t read the book blurb). His father is a Methodist minister and a pillar of the community, but Frank is more like his mother in not ...more
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in 1961, this story's narrator is a thirteen-year-old boy, Frank Drum, on the cusp of adulthood. It is retold from the memories of Frank forty years later. In the summer of 1961, Frank will experience love, loss (death), friendship, prejudice and faith. He will learn about the different lies we tell ourselves and we tell others. Frank will discover the effects of gossip. He will also experience forgiveness of self and of others. The importance of grace--God's grace--he will witness first han ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain, which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

The words of the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus resonate just as strongly as they did twenty-five centuries ago, defining the year 1961, in the small town of New Bremen, Minessota. The one who has to pay 'the terrible price of wisdom' is thirteen years old Frank Drum, over the hot months
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"Ordinary Grace" was EXTRAordinary!

I was at once immersed into the small town of New Bremen, MN, in the summer of 1961! Krueger's descriptive narrative is quite real in bringing this 1960's small town to life, along with all the actions and attitudes of the people that live in the town. It was as though I was actually there! He brought back for me the look and the feel of growing up in the 60's, as I did!!

The story is told through the eyes of 13 yr old Frank, the son of a very kind Minister. He
Marilyn C.

5 Highly Deserving Stars!

"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."

William Kent Krueger has written an outstanding story that has depth of character, lessons to be learned and a message that will stay with you for a very long time. Highly recommend!
3.5 Stars

I don't like so much when I am in the minority of rating a book, but I suppose that I am this time. Ordinary Grace is a coming of age book about a twelve-year-old boy named Frank who's curiosity for life and the happenings around him exposes the nastiness in the world to him a little too soon.

Because I just made a big move and have had my head in boxes for the past two weeks, I unfortunately have not been able to enjoy reading a book as I usually do. Due to these circumstances, I bought
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book from beginning to end!!! Loved the preacher, his family, and his friend Gus. Loved the relationship between the brothers of this family.
I was kept wondering throughout what the ending would be....very good...
Sonja Arlow
This is much more than just a coming of age story.

It’s about the depth of friendship, the agony of loss, the profound and enduring bonds of sibling love. Its about the invisible burdens that weigh people down and the small miracles that grace all of our lives.

I loved the 1960’s small town atmosphere, the rich characters and the fact that the mystery took a back seat in the telling.

There is a sister novel This Tender Land coming out later this year which I will definitely read.

Recommended for rea
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette
  • The Underground Railroad
  • Little Wolves
  • The Edge of the Earth
  • The Homecoming of Samuel Lake
  • The Bartender's Tale
  • Lessons in French
  • Beartown (Beartown, #1)
  • The Hummingbird
  • Safe from the Sea
  • One Foot in Eden
  • Let Him Go
  • Jewelweed
  • Iron House
  • The Cape Ann (Contemporary American Fiction)
  • Vacationland
  • The Heavens May Fall (Detective Max Rupert, #3)
  • The Burgess Boys
Raised in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, William Kent Krueger briefly attended Stanford University—before being kicked out for radical activities. After that, he logged timber, worked construction, tried his hand at freelance journalism, and eventually ended up researching child development at the University of Minnesota. He currently makes his living as a full-time author. He’s been married for ...more
“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.” 157 likes
“The miracle is this: that you will rise in the morning and be able to see again the startling beauty of the day.” 77 likes
More quotes…