A pastor friend of mine recommended this book and I was unsure about reading it to review at first because it sounded like a religious book. However, this is a secular book. Grace, God, religion, death, faith and other issues are dealt with through the eyes of a young teenage boy.
Thirteen-year-old Frank Drum is the son of the Methodist pastor in the small town of New Bremen, Minnesota. It is 1961. Frank’s sister Ariel is about to go off to Juilliard, his younger brother Jake can’t stop stuttering, his parents seem to have marital difficulties and a local boy is found killed by a train. This is the setting for a book that is intriguing and thought-provoking. It is also hard to put down.
Frank is trying to deal with life but he already knows he himself is a troublemaker. In fact, it is amazing how often he puts himself in places where he will find trouble. His brother often tags along, a silent watcher and reader of people. It is easy to see when he and his brother lose the innocence of childhood. Too bad their own father tries to keep them from knowing what is really going on in the town and in their own family. An increase of communication would have helped in pretty much every situation in the book. But when in our own lives would this not prevent a lot of stress, worry and ill will?
Although this book is about a child’s experience, there are several “adult” words used and situations that might bother readers of a gentle disposition. I still recommend it. You won’t be able to put it down. Now I would like to check out some of Krueger’s other writings.
What did this book have to do with my faith? Many Christians come to their faith after a period of doubt or struggle with God. Like Frank, I grew up as a Methodist minister’s child. I attended Sunday school, worshipped regularly, went to a parochial school and was a faithful follower…until I went to college. Then, again like Frank, I doubted God’s place in the world (although Frank really just denies God’s existence) and grew apart from my childhood faith. It took a move to another state and the influence of my future husband to get me back in church where God did the rest to my heart. You may have a similar story. If you have never, ever doubted God’s existence or never struggled with church dogma or the words of Christ, I can tell you that there will be a time when you do one or more of those things. Life can sometimes make being Christ’s follower tricky. Instead of giving us answers and comfort, we fall into places where questions crowd out our trust and grief darkens pat answers. The good thing is that when we come out of these situations, our faith in God is often that much stronger.
I highly recommend Ordinary Grace.