BKMT READING GUIDES

Ordinary Grace: A Novel
by William Kent Krueger

Published: 2013-06-05
Hardcover : 497 pages
227 members reading this now
49 clubs reading this now
103 members have read this book
Looking back at a tragic event that occurred during his thirteenth year, Frank Drum explores how a complicated web of secrets, adultery, and betrayal shattered his Methodist family and their small 1961 Minnesota ...
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Introduction

Looking back at a tragic event that occurred during his thirteenth year, Frank Drum explores how a complicated web of secrets, adultery, and betrayal shattered his Methodist family and their small 1961 Minnesota community.

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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

1. Discuss the final revelation of Ariel’s whereabouts. Had you guessed correctly?

2. Much of Frank and Jake’s knowledge comes from overhearing and snooping. Which instance of eavesdropping provided them with the heaviest, most important information? Is there a particular overheard conversation that led most directly to the loss of their childhood innocence?

3. Along those same lines, in what ways have the two boys been transformed by story’s end?

4. Who is ultimately responsible for the death of Karl Brandt?

5. A number of characters carry secrets that eventually come to light. Was there a certain catharsis once they were able to unload the truth? Did it do them any good? Consider especially Frank’s father, whose deeds in the war remained a mystery. Is there some merit to carrying the burden of a secret alone?

6. Though the title of the novel refers to a particular “ordinary grace,” what other small graces did you find in the book?

7. Why does Ruth leave her family? Do you think she was truly mad at Nathan? At God? Discuss the ways in which she and the other characters deal with their grief over Ariel.

8. Do you agree with Frank’s insight in the epilogue that, “there is no such thing as a true event?” What makes a story real? How do we deal with varying perspectives and reflections of history?

9. Do you think Frank had a responsibility to tell Emil about Lise? Was there merit to Jake’s argument that her fenced-in estate was prison enough?

10. Do you forgive Emil for his moment of indiscretion? Is he in some way to blame for everything that happened in New Bremen?

11. Frank and Jake often make a case to come along to the sheriff’s office, crime scenes, and pivotal confrontations during the upheaval in New Bremen. Should they have been allowed to bear witness to these things? Should children be shielded from the occasional darkness of adult life?

12. What do you make of Gus? Is he in some ways the backbone (though not a true relative) of the Drum family?

13. Do you agree with the sentiment of the older Warren Redstone? Is it true that the departed are never far from us?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Tragedy and controversy will occasionally befall a small town like New Bremen. Has something similar ever happened in your town? Discuss the details of that incident, and how/if it changed things for you.

2. Much of our perspective in Ordinary Grace comes through Frank and Jake’s by-foot travels throughout town, through the hidden passages and remote clearings. Make a similar journey through your own neighborhood. What places are ripe for a secret? Where can you go for peace and meditation?

3. List and discuss the ordinary graces and miracles you’ve experienced. How do small moments help us deal with larger-than-life trouble?

4. Read any one of the novels in William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor mystery series and discuss how the suspense of the Minnesota that O’Connor inhabits compares to the more pastoral mystery of the Drum family.

Suggested by Members

We utilized the readers questions sent by Book Movement - appreciated it.
by LadyD918 (see profile) 12/02/16

Discuss what 'ordinary grace' means - in the book and to each member.
by rmreader (see profile) 11/15/16

A father changing his vocation from a lawyer to a minister with what effect on his family?
What children should be allowed to see and hear before they may be ready to understand.
How some deaths can affect a family and even a community.
by smokey1 (see profile) 05/19/16

How does each character's religious faith affect his/her actions?
by carolkaskin (see profile) 04/29/16

Grace What is grace and where does it appear in the book
Awful. What is meant by the term awful grace
Ordinary what makes the grace in this book ordinary
by debi123c (see profile) 02/21/16

Book has list of discussion topics in back of it
by DThomas (see profile) 09/29/15

There are many types of stereotypes that occur in this book. Discuss these stereotypes and how they created conflict in the story.
How would the story have ended if Frank had not reported Lise.
by ccroft78248 (see profile) 07/07/15

Train tracks, faith, childhood freedom, small towns, secrets, regrets
by bookmoot (see profile) 05/14/15

Make sure you know the "ordinary graces" God gives us versus "the awful Grace of God."
by CarolynChapman (see profile) 03/18/15

What was Ariel about
What about the Indian and his significance
by sedonasue1 (see profile) 02/13/15

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Dennis Lehane

“A pitch-perfect, wonderfully evocative examination of violent loss. In Frank Drum's journey away from the shores of childhood—a journey from which he can never return—we recognize the heartbreaking price of adulthood and it's 'wisdoms.' I loved this book.”

Huffington Post

“Once in a blue moon a book drops down on your desk that demands to be read. You pick it up and read the first page, and then the second, and you are hooked. Such a book is Ordinary Grace…This is a book that makes the reader feel better just by having been exposed to the delights of the story. It will stay with you for quite some time and you will always remember it with a smile.”

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by [email protected] (see profile) 05/29/19

Very well written, touching. Great coming of age story. A meaningful thriller.

 
by mollyryan (see profile) 01/27/19

 
by marysloan (see profile) 11/04/18

 
by Tiddy70 (see profile) 04/29/18

 
by SherryMincic (see profile) 03/04/18

 
by lindseyschmidt (see profile) 02/23/18

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