Monday, April 25, 2016

Book Review: Ordinary Grace

Oftentimes I cull titles of good reads from our book club's search for our eleven selections each year. In December, the leader gathers all our suggestions, looks up a few of her own, and produces a long list of possible books to explore. Ordinary Grace, a New York Times bestseller and winner of several other awards, was on this year's list but didn't make the list of book selections. This is a book that will stay with me a while, bouncing around in my brain.

Here are the snippets of story teaser that sucked me in: "New Bremen, Minnesota. 1961.... For thirteen-year-old Frank Drum, it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.... When tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family - which includes his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Julliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother - he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal..."

Of course, the title sucked me in as well. Even though sometimes you can read a book with "grace" in the title and find it has nothing to do with God's grace, in this case the story really did present a view on what is both called the "awful grace of God" and "ordinary grace." Although it is not a Christian book and certainly isn't proselytizing, the book causes the reader to consider God's role and response in our suffering. This is a coming-of-age tale where the narrator must grow up quickly because of the many things he sees and learns in the space of one summer. It is full of reflections on sin and suffering and the grace that can be revealed through these things.

I did figure out the ending long before it played out, but it was still an enticing read getting there. Moreover, I thought it portrayed grief very well. Readers will certainly be able to relate to the sentiments and emotions portrayed in these pages. In many ways, the words were delicious. I enjoyed the book, though not enough to label it a highly recommended book.

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