Ordinary Grace - Summary

William Kent Krueger

Ordinary Grace Book Cover


“Ordinary Grace” by William Kent Krueger is a captivating novel that takes readers on a journey through a small Minnesota town in the 1960s. This coming-of-age story is filled with mystery, tragedy, and the complexities of human relationships. Through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Frank Drum, the protagonist, readers are immersed in a world where ordinary lives are forever changed by extraordinary events. In this book summary, we will explore the key themes, characters, and plot elements that make “Ordinary Grace” a compelling and thought-provoking read.

The Setting: Small Town Life in Minnesota

Krueger skillfully sets the stage by transporting readers to the fictional town of New Bremen, Minnesota. The author’s vivid descriptions paint a picture of a close-knit community where everyone knows each other’s business. The town’s idyllic charm is shattered when a series of tragic events unfold, leaving its residents grappling with grief, guilt, and the search for meaning.

The Protagonist: Frank Drum

Frank Drum, the novel’s narrator, is a young boy on the cusp of adolescence. As the son of a Methodist minister, Frank is exposed to the complexities of faith and morality from an early age. Through his eyes, readers witness the loss of innocence and the harsh realities of life. Frank’s introspective nature and keen observations make him a relatable and compelling protagonist.

The Themes: Loss, Faith, and Redemption

One of the central themes in “Ordinary Grace” is the exploration of loss and its profound impact on individuals and communities. Krueger delves into the different ways people cope with grief, whether through faith, denial, or seeking justice. The novel also raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of faith and the existence of a higher power. Through the characters’ struggles, readers are prompted to reflect on their own beliefs and find meaning in the face of tragedy.

Anecdote: The Death of Ariel Drum

One of the most pivotal moments in the novel is the death of Frank’s sister, Ariel Drum. The tragedy sends shockwaves through the community, forever altering the lives of those involved. Krueger’s poignant portrayal of grief and its aftermath leaves a lasting impact on readers. The loss of Ariel serves as a catalyst for Frank’s coming-of-age journey, as he grapples with guilt, anger, and the search for justice.

The Supporting Characters: Complexities of Human Relationships

Krueger masterfully crafts a cast of diverse and multi-dimensional characters that add depth and richness to the story. From Frank’s introspective and compassionate father, Nathan Drum, to his rebellious and enigmatic friend, Jake, each character brings their own struggles and motivations to the narrative. Through their interactions, the novel explores the complexities of human relationships, the secrets we keep, and the power of forgiveness.

Anecdote: The Mysterious Del Halderson

Del Halderson, a war veteran and a recluse, becomes an unlikely ally and mentor to Frank. Del’s mysterious past and his connection to the tragedies that unfold in New Bremen add an element of suspense to the story. Through his interactions with Frank, Del imparts wisdom and teaches him valuable life lessons about compassion, forgiveness, and the importance of finding grace in ordinary moments.

The Plot: Mystery and Intrigue

“Ordinary Grace” is not only a coming-of-age tale but also a gripping mystery. As the deaths in New Bremen continue to mount, Frank becomes determined to uncover the truth behind the tragedies. The novel’s plot twists and turns keep readers engaged and guessing until the very end. Krueger skillfully weaves together the threads of the narrative, blending elements of suspense, family drama, and the exploration of faith.

Anecdote: The Revelation of the Killer

Without revealing too much, the novel’s climax reveals the identity of the killer behind the tragic events in New Bremen. Krueger’s ability to maintain suspense and deliver a satisfying resolution showcases his skill as a storyteller. The revelation not only provides closure but also raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of justice and the complexities of human nature.


“Ordinary Grace” by William Kent Krueger is a masterfully written novel that explores themes of loss, faith, and redemption. Through the eyes of young Frank Drum, readers are transported to a small town in Minnesota and immersed in a world where ordinary lives are forever changed by extraordinary events. Krueger’s vivid descriptions, relatable characters, and gripping plot make this book a must-read for anyone seeking a thought-provoking and engaging literary experience.

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