Book Review: Ordinary Grace


“The miracle is this: that you will rise in the morning and be able to see again the startling beauty of the day.”

I made short order of this week's book, Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, devouring it in a just a few days.  While reading I kept thinking how funny it was that the word "ordinary" is in the title of the book.

"Ordinary" sets up a word picture which is decidedly uninspiring, like saying beige or vanilla. My expectations were commensurately measured and mostly met.

“...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.”

I think "ordinary" with every page.

Most of the characters are flat while the who-done-it mystery was plainly written and entirely predictable. The pacing was slowish even though the language was simple.

“I was little more than a child still wrapped in a soothing blanket of illusion.”

And yet, and this is the tricky part, I still liked the book.

Maybe I was in the mood for easy, but I also zeroed in on a few nuggets I enjoyed. The narrator was likeable and as a coming of age story, he offered an engaging perspective about the impact of death on our lives.

“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.”

There were beautiful father-son moments which I loved and some sentences which I will return to for inspiration.

“There was a playwright, Son, a Greek by the name of Aeschylus. He wrote that 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 awful grace of God.  You could mine that idea for a while.

Other thoughts were subtle and profound.

“If we put everything in God's hands, maybe we don't have to be afraid anymore.”

So while I wished the editing had been tighter and the plot less predictable, I could feel the pleasure in "ordinary."