Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger & Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens
These two similar books, both by Minnesota authors, are among the best books I’ve ever read. (Right up there with Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.) In both books, the authors recount stories from a grown man’s perspective, but through the eyes of their teenage selves, in both terms and descriptions that make the reader feel like they’re right there with them. The characters are written with such depth and detail that the reader tends to feel they know the characters personally and forget it’s a work of fiction. The vivid storytelling creates unforgettable visualization, drawing the reader in right from the start, and you won’t want to stop living with these families when the stories end. Both are brilliantly written stories you will carry in your heart long after you finish the last page.
In Ordinary Grace, Frank Drum recounts his life in 1961, New Bremen, Minnesota, as a thirteen-year-old boy trying to understand a seemingly ordinary life as it crumbles around him when he and his family experience unexpected tragedy. Ironically, it’s ordinary and redemptive grace that begins to heal the lives of Frank and his family. It’s a story that tests the faith of the most devout believer, Frank’s pastor father, and that will in some way transform the life of the reader.
“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.” William Kent Krueger, Ordinary Grace
Nothing More Dangerous is set in a small Missouri town in the 1970s by an adult Boady Sanden looking back on his life as a fifteen-year-old who becomes best friends with his black neighbor, Thomas Elgin. Boady fights to survive when he defies the town’s brutal racism that threatens his life when he fails to comply. It shows the reader how we are a product of our environment but how we have the power to grow beyond that, and that change begins with each one of us. It’s a story depicting racism, intolerance, and two teens solving the disappearance of a black woman, but there is so much more gold to mine here. It’s absolutely brilliant!
As an author myself, (most of whose books are set in Minnesota), both books left me hoping to one day write so beautifully.
What are some books you’ve read that seem to linger long after you’ve reached the end?