Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was another book club selection, following on the heals of "Peace Like a River." The common thread in the two books is faith, and belief in God during a summer in New Bremen, Minnesota, when too many people died. The story is told by young Frank Drum looking back over the years when he "came of age." Frank and his younger brother Jake, mostly inseparable through that summer, found themselves burying a young friend, an unknown "itinerant," and their sister Ariel.
The story unfolded against the backdrop of wealth and privilege of two households of the Brandt family. The older Brandts, Axel and Julia Brandt, owned the brewery in New Bremen which had prospered for more than a hundred years. Emil Brandt was Frank's mother Ruth's good friend since childhood, and a talented musician. Lise Brandt was Emil's younger sister, born deaf and subject to fits of rage. When Emil returns from the war, blind and facially disfigured, it is Lise who takes care of her brother. Lise and Jake, who stutters when he is with strangers, forge a bond. They understand each other even through Lise's deafness.
Nathan Drum, father of Frank and Jake, had studied law, and expected to become an attorney before the war interrupted his life, and the expectations of his wife Ruth. When Nathan returned from the war, he had no interest in law, and chose to become a minister, much to Ruth's dismay.
It is Nathan's gentle nature and unwavering faith that keeps his family together even during the darkest times of their lives. The mysterious death of Ariel shakes them all, and it is Frank and Jake who gradually solve the mystery.
[ The mystery dragged on for too many pages and I had solved it before Frank and Jake figured it out. I won't tell how it ended. (hide spoiler)]
It was a good read. I think my book club will enjoy this one much more than "Peace Like a River." I won't tell how it ended.
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