Thoughts on Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

It’s high time I talk a little more about books around here. But before I get to that, here is a quick update of life as I have known it for the past month or so.

My three kiddos graduated.
Lindsay received her Associates degree and is now looking to move forward with her Bachelors. We all thought she’d stop at this point. SHE thought she would stop at this point, but alas, she has decided to keep on trucking.
Jonathan and Caleb both graduated from high school. Jonathan was part of a Classical Conversations community. CC is a home school community that meets once a week, guided by tutors who cover all of their subjects in seminars throughout the day. The students do all of  their assignments at home and then come together weekly to read their papers, have debates, present projects and memory work and such. It is, as the name suggests, based on the classical method of education and is pretty rigorous. It was a perfect fit for him.
Caleb finished his last year of high school at the community college. He did very well and now has a year of college under his belt. Our long home school journey has now come to an end and even though for the last couple of years I have not actually been “teaching” them as much as I have been managing their education, I still feel like I just graduated too.

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If you read my previous post, then you are aware that my brother has had a very difficult time for the last nine months. He is still having a tough time in general, but he has been eating more frequently and adding more variety to his diet and he is at a much healthier weight. I still am in awe of the miracle that has occurred in his life. The ability to talk and to swallow food is such a gift for someone who has endured what he has endured. God has been good to him. He still has a ways to go but things are definitely improving for him physically.

On to the books:
I recently finished reading The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy and Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger.
I’m pretty sure that later I am going to do a whole post on The Prince of Tides. I just have too many thoughts and feelings about it to keep it condensed right here. I listened to it on audible when I was on the go and read it while I was stationary. The audible narration was outstanding and there is even a moment before the narration begins that Pat Conroy speaks to the listener and goes on and on about how pleased he is with the audible and how he felt like the narrator just made his book into a new piece of art. (Or something like that.) He was right, Frank Muller was fantastic. Actually, I feel like I hit the jackpot with the last two audio books I “read“.  Tides and Huckleberry Finn. Huck Finn was narrated by Elijah Wood and I just can’t say enough about it. If you’re on the fence about whether you like audios or not, listen to this Huck Finn. I was so incredibly entertained by it.

I also read Ordinary Grace for book club. This one started out with a Stand by Me sort of vibe. The book was pretty fast paced and the chapters were short, (a plus for me), but I really didn’t care much about it until about half way through. The author does a good job setting up the story, and there were two people I liked but really, I felt no attachment to any of it until a certain death occurs and then the rest of the novel is about the grief and pursuit of answers involved in that death. There is a mystery to it and I was uncertain of “who done it” until about 75% in and then after reading one scene I began to figure it out. There are rave reviews about this one on goodreads and  Mr. Krueger seems to be a well loved author. We had more discussion at book club than I anticipated. There are elements of story that are only touched on in the book that provided a great deal of thoughtful discussion. There was even one character, which wasn’t particularly likable, that I found myself relating to. Whoa. Overall it was a good book, with a few irritations for me as I’m never comfortable with abusing God’s name, but it’s often hard to find good literature that doesn’t.

A favorite passage:
Context: Frank, 13, wants Gus to dig a grave but Gus is in jail so Frank wants to spring him. The officer suggests another gravedigger…

“There’s something important Gus needs to do.”
“It’ll have to wait til Monday, son.”
“It can’t wait. He has to do it now.”

…….”Gus was digging __________’s grave. He didn’t finish it.”
“That’s important,” Officer Blake allowed. “Tell you what, boys, I’ll call Lloyd Arvin. He’s in charge of the cemetery. I’m sure he’ll get someone over there to finish the job.”
“I don’t want someone else, sir. I want Gus.”
………”Look boys, I can’t help you out here,” Officer Blake said. “I’m sorry.”
“But sir, this is really, really important.”
“So’s the law, son. I told you Lloyd Arvin’ll get someone else, and whoever that is will do a fine job, I’m sure.
“No, please,” it has to be Gus.”
Doyle put his coke down. “Why Gus?”
I wished that Doyle weren’t there and wished that I was older and bigger and could have finished the job Gus had started on him. I didn’t even want to acknowledge him let alone actually talk to him. But I was desperate.
I said, “Because he comes from a long line of gravediggers, and he won’t just dig a hole.”
“But son, that’s what a grave is,” Officer Blake said. “Just a hole.”
“No, sir, it’s not. When it’s done well, it’s a box carved into the earth that will hold something precious. I don’t want just anyone carving _______’s box.”

(I’m withholding the deceased’s name so as not to spoil if you decide to read it.)

I’m now on to reading and listening to Emma by Jane Austen for Austen in August. I’m also reading Forever with You by Robin Jones Gunn and a tea appreciation book by her as well. All kinds of girly reading for now.

Do drop in for a spot of tea and lively conversation, won’t you?

 

 

 

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