This novel is so well written and the story is so touching, I did not want it to end.
The year is 1961 and Frank Drum is a thirteen year old son of a Methodist minister in New Bremen, Minnesota. It should have been a summer of innocence, like the era. But there were four deaths in the small town that summer. And that changed everything for Frank.
The story is narrated by Frank now forty years older. He looks back and remembers the fateful summer that was full of lies and secrets. Frank's father has a secret – something that happened in the war that made him responsible for the deaths of many. Frank's artistic mother didn't marry to be a pastor's wife and has difficulty living the role. Frank's little brother, though wise beyond his years, stutters. And Frank's older sister is an accomplished pianist, organist, and composer.
Frank tries to make sense of the events as they happen over the summer. There is the death of a young boy on the railroad tracks. Later Frank and his brother stumble upon a homeless man, dead under the train trestle.
And then his sister is missing. Frank knows she had been sneaking out at night but never told their dad. As the days go by, secrets come to the light and Frank has much to think about and understand.
This is much more than just a coming of age story. It is a look into the lives of those struggling to understand what is happening to them. It is a story about the awful grace of God and the ordinary grace of God. When his sister's body is found, the story becomes a mystery as Frank tries to unravel the relationships that would cause one to take the life of another.
The author has given readers much to think about in this novel. How would we face the tragic loss of a loved one at the hands of another? Could we exercise forgiveness? Would we seek revenge?
Experiencing the events of the summer through the eyes of Frank is amazing. I felt his innocence, puzzlement, anger, regret and a host of other emotions. Kruger has done such a good job of creating the scenes through the eyes of Frank I felt like I was right there. And the other characters are well developed too. I love Frank's little brother – so wise, so loving, so thought provoking.
This is a well written novel I'll be thinking about for some time.
William Kent Krueger is the author of the award-winning Cork O'Connor mystery series. He lives in Twin Cities with his family. You can find out more at WilliamKentKrueger.com.
Atria Books, 320 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.