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About Grace

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3.42  ·  Rating details ·  9,781 ratings  ·  1,226 reviews
When Anthony Doerr's The Shell Collector was published in 2002, the Los Angeles Times called his stories "as close to faultless as any writer—young or vastly experienced—could wish for." He won the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Discover Prize, Princeton's Hodder Fellowship, and two O. Henrys, and shared the Young Lions Award. Now he has writ
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Paperback, 402 pages
Published September 27th 2005 by Penguin Books (first published September 21st 2004)
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LeAnne: GeezerMom
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Annamirabilis Like you I loved All the Light, but found About Grace deeply depressing. Despite myself I kept reading, finding it horribly fascinating. Hardly…moreLike you I loved All the Light, but found About Grace deeply depressing. Despite myself I kept reading, finding it horribly fascinating. Hardly anything nice happens to Winkler and his lack of objectivity about how awful his life is was for me the weakest aspect of the book. There is some beautiful writing but I got a bit sick of eulogies about the elemental simplicity of water, snowflakes etc. They certainly contributed nothing to the story or the pace of the book. (less)

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3.42  · 
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 ·  9,781 ratings  ·  1,226 reviews


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Violet wells
This novel, like a teenage relationship, took me from love to loathing in the space of two weeks. Part one was fabulous. (I apologise to friends to whom I prematurely recommended this book). David Winkler, a character whose naivety and social ineptness makes Dostoevsky’s Idiot appear like Machiavelli and Lord Byron forged into one, has prophetic dreams. He dreams of a fatal accident to a stranger and then watches it happen days later exactly as he dreamt it. He then dreams a meeting with a woman ...more
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
Astounding. Eloquent. As good as or perhaps better than All the Light...but if you're not a science-type or do not revel in small intricacies of nature, you might just disagree. I'd also add that being a parent probably adds to the connection between the reader and this beautiful story. Not a mom or pop? That's okay.

The people who found this too long or became tired of the meaning behind snow crystals and water molecules and the way insects can survive near-death are fine readers, I'm sure, but
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Cathy
Jul 01, 2011 rated it did not like it
I read this because Doerr is a local author, and a prize winner, and I liked him so much when I heard him speak. I wanted to like the book. I listened to it in my car and listened to the whooooooole thing. I started cursing it as I drove down the street. At times I wanted to drive into a telephone pole just to stop the pain. a) I don't like plotting based on poor decisions by the characters. b) I don't like extended meanderings into beautiful descriptive prose about things that have absolutely n ...more
Jaline - (on 2/3 hiatus)
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Throughout the journey this book took me on, grace was present everywhere that it was allowed. (Sometimes it's amazing how we gift grace to others but don't allow it for ourselves.) The magic of aspects of nature were here - in water's many forms, the world of insects, the seasons and various locales and how they affect the flora and fauna - and vice versa. Dreams are here - prophetic and prosaic and everything in-between. And through it all - grace, love, and the bonds between people who connec ...more
Snotchocheez
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this in preparation to tackle All the Light We Cannot See to see what all the hoopla's about. I gotta say, Anthony Doerr is an impressive writer, and I am somewhat more eager to read his Pulitzer Prize winner now that I've read About Grace. It's by no means a perfect book; in fact the novel is stuffed with gobs of superfluous stuff that threatens to detract from the story (how much do we really need to know about snow crystal formation, anyway?) but Doerr writes with an exuberance that ...more
Lori
Feb 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
I love that he uses the science of snowflakes to mirror the complicated mental patterns of a human being who is lost and trying to find his place in the world, attempting to come to terms with the chaos in his head and heart.

Doeer is remarkably astute in delving into the isolation and loneliness of being human, the intermittment connections we make: some enduring, others brief and awkward, but each valuable and necessary. This story is a classic hero's journey and Doerr writes it well.

I percei
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Glitterbomb
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Yikes. Its hard to believe this is by the same author as the emotional, and beautifully written "All the Light We Cannot See".

I adored the writing, as I expected I would. It was beautifully crafted and incredibly evocative. But, there's only so much beautiful and evocative you can take before you start itching for some plot.

3 Stars
TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez
About Grace is the first novel from Boise, Idaho based author, Anthony Doerr. He previously published a collection of short stories, The Shell Collector, which were both moving and gorgeous. One of the qualities of the stories contained in The Shell Collector, i.e., each story's deep connection to the natural world in which it takes place, actually becomes one of the chief weaknesses in About Grace.

About Grace opens as its protagonist, David Winkler, a fifty-nine-year-old scientist, especially f
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GoldGato
Nov 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, winter
Languid. This is a languid book requiring the reader to lower their metabolism to match the flow of the page. If the reader can do this, if the reader can build patience, then a world of graceful prose will be the reward.

The mythology of the Great Flood still lives in our heads. The fear and awe of water and waves and violent whitecaps. "We live in the beds of ancient oceans." Water and its transformation into snowflakes form the basis of this novel. The water in each of us that longs to return
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Pat Simons
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
After reading All the Light We Cannot See, which I found thought-provoking and beautifully written, I wanted to read more of Doerr's work. The title "About Grace" looked promising, so I downloaded it. But the book didn't hold a candle (hoho) to All the Light We Cannot See. Some of the prose was lovely, although not as spectacular as the prose in All the Light We Cannot See. But I was as happy to see About Grace end as I was sorry to see the end of All the Light We Cannot See. I found the protago ...more
Becky
Jun 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
This book tells the story of David Winkler, a man who has dreams that are premonitions of the future. It was beautifully written with amazing imagery of the diverse settings of the novel. In Winkler's attempts to escape his dreams he travels from the Caribbean to Alaska and Doerr describes both of these settings in beautiful almost magical detail. Water and snow become the most amazingly complex and beautiful things in Doerr's writing. Other reviewers have stated that while the writing was beaut ...more
hayden
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
2 stars

okay. um. doerr? are you sure? this is the same anthony doerr that wrote All the Light We Cannot See? you're absolutely positive? also the same author who wrote the novella Memory Wall? seriously??

this feels so detached from doerr's more recent work (and i'm very glad it's not the other way around): it moves at a snail's pace; the prose isn't nearly as lively as it is in his later work; and, for god's sake, the narrator is fucking intolerable. by the halfway point, i was literally forcing
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Stephen
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
"I could be bound in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space – were it not that I have bad dreams.” -- Hamlet

An awful gift, a dreadful mistake, half a lifetime of doldrums and then repentance form the arc of this first novel by Anthony Doerr, whose second All the Light We Cannot See has been a near-universal favorite in 2014. I recommend About Grace very highly, though stinting one star on goodreads because I haven’t yet given five to any fiction (except humor) not read at least t
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Elizabeth Shafer
I was given Doerr's recent book for Christmas but decided to first read his first novel, About Grace. As others have observed, Doerr seems to think like a scientist--whether about about stars, snowflakes, shells, insects--but writes like a poet. What is chance, what is fate? Doerr deals with these philosophical questions viscerally and brilliantly. The protagonist, David Winkler, is cursed with dreams or premonitions of events, some of which occur and which fill him with overwhelming dread, caus ...more
Bill Perkins
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-10
One of my favorite books. The charachter Mr Winkler often is in my thoughts. It is a story of remorse, of growth, of change, and of love. I recommend this to anyone. The text is beautifully written. The characters are deeply defined. I loved every word, and was so sad to see the end.
Laura
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: two-star
Having read All The Light We Cannot See and, like many, thinking it was beautiful, I picked up the authors debut with high expectations. Conversely, I just couldn’t enjoy this one. What made Doerrs’ writing so captivating in his Pulitzer Prize winning book just didn’t work here. It was overly descriptive and by forty percent in I was getting frustrated with the lack of plot development.

It’s very, very rare that one author can divide me so much. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend All The Light We
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David Carr
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
I had finished Doerr's short story collection, Memory Wall, when my Kindle [I was traveling in Alaska] offered me an opportunity to read the first pages of About Grace and I said yes. Then I fell into this book and found it to take me back to some of the best reading I did forty years ago or more. At times Doerr reminded me of the Nabokov of Pnin or the great Bernard Malamud's A New Life; I also thought of Saul Bellow and the neglected Edward Lewis Wallant.

Doerr's protagonist is haunted and dri
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Jessica Sullivan
"Sometimes I can't believe I've been allowed to live this long, to see these things. After everything, after all this, I still can't help but think it is so lovely. Isn't it, David? Isn't all of it so damn outrageously beautiful?"

David Winkler is a hydrologist passionate about snowflakes—their variances, their beauty, their delicacy. This is a book about patterns, designs and complexities, not just of snowflakes, but of human lives.

Ever since he was a little boy David has had premonitions. When
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Kathy Miller
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-books
Beautifully written, this is a literary endeavor that reaches into the heart of being human. Anthony Doerr is the award winning author of All the Light we Cannot See. About Grace was his debut novel and it is rich in detail and pathos.
Character driven, this novel is a psychological foray into the heart of one man who loves deeply, and who augurs the future which brings him both joy and trepidation.
The writing is exceptional, psychological in nature and enthralling. Loved it.
Irene
May 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I am not exactly sure why I struggled to get into this novel, but I really did. It was as if I was watching the story through the wrong end of the telescope, or as if there was a dense fog between me and the characters. Or maybe it was a sort of veil that muted their voice, a veil created by the author trying just a bit too hard to write a literary novel rather than to tell a story. The protagonist periodically has a dream that is replicated exactly in reality in subsequent days. When the events ...more
Hannah Jayne

Dear Soma—
I always figured that as people aged, their dispositions would strengthen. They see more, they get used to more, they grow tougher, more capable of bearing the heavy things. But not me. I’m falling apart. The sight of sunlight on the simplest object—on Naaliyah’s keys, say, or on her raincoat on the floor, or on a thousand pairs of eyeglasses in their little niches—up here, even in the city, the Alaskan light is so unadulterated it manages to reveal the essence of things, throw them i
...more
Liisa
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought I should read About Grace now that its still winter, because it seemed extremely fitting for the season, and I was right. I have never read a book where snow and water in all its forms is described as beautifully, skillfully and in such detail. And I love how parts of the story is set in the warm Caribbean islands and parts in the cold winter of Alaskan wilderness. The plot I found very intriguing, even though the main character got on my nerves at some points, but thats only natural w ...more
Sally Knotwell
May 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, book-club
This was a highly touted book for our book club. The premise had me excited to read it. However, once I got started, I found that I was in a constant state of confusion. Each chapter starts out with the main character, David Winkler, as a different age and it does not progress chronologically. It bounces from age 59 to 32 and back and forth with no particular signal that the reader is going back or forth. David Winkler is not a sympathetic character in my opinion. He is immoral and a stalker. An ...more
Sydney Gard
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Doerr wrote my favorite book, All the Light We Cannot See, so I was hoping this would be good too. It is not. Instead of reading this, read All the Light. Read it again if you already have. This book was simultaneously weird and boring, and getting through it was tedious. I am sad.
Judy
May 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Waste of time and just weird.
Miranda
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
For a girl who boasts to the claim of not being a fan of "recreational crying" I would have to say I understand now why some girls like to watch movies that make them cry. I found this book rather therapeutic. The book is called About Grace and it is by Anthony Doerr.

The book is about David Winkler a man who has a vision of his daughter's death, which he sees himself causeing. This vision causes him to then spends his whole life running to avoid it. It follows the path he takes and the people h
...more
Robert Case
Dec 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A dreary story in elegant prose. "About Grace" tells the story of a near sighted scientist with prophetic dreams and poor social skills who runs from troubles of his own creation. The journey takes him from Anchorage to Cleveland, and finally to a remote Caribbean Island. Winkler lives there for many years, finding some measure of peace and satisfaction, only to leave again after saving a young woman's life.
Of course this reader wanted her to survive the drowning incident. But, the accident sce
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Vonia
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alexandra
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Quite simply, I didn't want this book to end.
Ann
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This mesmerizing story is graced with recurring themes of nature, memory and family. The characters breathe.

From childhood David Winkler suffers premonitions. One sends his life off track and him into exile for twenty five years. While suffering and far from home, he still manages to surround himself with a family of sorts until he starts dreaming and sleepwalking again.

The way the children in the book breathe life back into the troubled man was one of the things I felt most.

David's story is a
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Nature Literature: About Grace discussion 20 44 Dec 19, 2018 07:01AM  
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The Ending? Help me understand... 3 42 Sep 17, 2015 02:29PM  

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Anthony Doerr is the author of five books, The Shell Collector , About Grace , Memory Wall , Four Seasons in Rome and All the Light We Cannot See . Doerr’s fiction has won four O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Barnes & Noble Discov ...more
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“Our shadows are our histories. We drag them everywhere.” 22 likes
“You ever hope for something so much? So much you can't sleep, so much your skull hurts? But the thing is, you don't even know if the thing you're wishing for is possible? You don't even know if it could happen? And it's all out of your control?” 21 likes
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