This Tender Land

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

Here's a book that has all the elements of a great read and it didn't disappoint.  It's 1932 in Minnesota where the aftermaths of the Depression still continue.  Four orphans manage to escape the horrific confines of a residential facility for Native American children and the journey begins.
The plot is filled with such sensitivity and compassion as the children take to the water in a canoe in an effort to reach St. Louis.  The humanity of people alongside its worst characteristics are gleaned in the pages.  Upon its conclusion (which you hope doesn't come), your faith in people doing what is right is restored.  The writing is just beautiful and riveting.
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This epic, coming of age tale is as sweeping and boundless as the rolling prairie upon which it is set. The story follows four orphans: Odie, Moses, Emma and Albert who travel down the Mississippi River, away from their cruel boarding school towards what they hope will be a better life. Telling the story from the vantage point of a long-lived life, Odysseus lives up to his Homeric namesake and weaves an evocative tale of suffering, discovery, friendship and hope. Krueger is not afraid of tackling questions of faith, family loyalties, and the morality of survival. While this was my first Krueger novel I can see why he has such a faithful following. I will not be surprised to see this masterpiece lauded as a modern day classic among the greats like Twain’s Huckleberry Fiinn and Steinbek’s Grapes of Wrath.
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This Tender Land takes the reader on a roller coaster ride, along with the four young orphans, as they set out on their own to escape the lives they have found themselves in. There are plenty of ups and downs along the way but they are resourceful and loyal to each other, so somehow they get by.

This is a beautifully written story that follows the adventures of these four amazing young people. You will be rooting for them, crying with them, fearful for them, and celebrating their victories as they journey along their way.

William Kent Krueger has written an exquisite piece of literature that I highly recommend. I loved every word of it!
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So much love for this book. A group of four young orphans flee the Lincoln School (a home for Native American children) during the Depression era. A classic adventure story that starts off in Minnesota via canoe but becomes much more complicated. I fell in love with the fantastic cast of characters that the orphans encountered, as well as the orphans themselves. A compelling story that is a true page turner. I was sad when it was over and still think about the characters. Thank you to NetGalley for my copy.
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This book is incredible.  It swept me into another world, one bounded by sadness, cruelty, poverty, and ultimately the beauty of the human spirit.  The characters are drawn with a fine brush, showing us ALL their dimensions of good, bad, weak, and strong, and all the contradictions of human nature.  It is an amazing journey, and the four young sojourners, Odie, Albert, Mose, and Emmy, carry the story with finesse.  After fleeing from a horrible situation, they make their way in search of family and a home.  The river cities and towns are almost characters too, and serve to show the struggles of those living through the depression. This Tender Land makes you a better person for having read it.

Thanks to Netgalley and  Simon and Shuster for this ebook in return for an unbiased review.
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Atria Books and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of This Tender Land. I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

In the author's note, William Kent Krueger explains how he intended this novel to have a Huckleberry Finn type of feeling, just updated to take place during the Great Depression. Odie O'Banion and his brother Albert are orphans, sent to live among Native American children in the Lincoln Indian Training School in Minnesota. Odie can do no right in the eyes of the superintendent, landing himself in hot water time and time again. When circumstances force Odie, Albert, their friend Mose, and sweet little Emmy into a canoe on the Mississippi, will the group be able to find a place to call home? As they journey into the unknown away from their problems, will new dangers lurk around every corner?

This Tender Land is a richly imagined story, with well developed characters and a smoothly paced plot. Sometimes, the adventure can mean more than the destination, which is true in this novel. The author does a great job of describing the time period and the landscape of middle America during the early 1930's. Although there were a lot of characters, both main and periphery, I never had a moment of confusion. I thoroughly enjoyed This Tender Land and would recommend it to other readers.
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A heartfelt story of four young orphans running away from an abusive Indian training school, trying to get to St Louis, where they hope to find a place of safety.

Well-written and fast paced, with a wonderful cast of characters and a sense of innocence, this is a story that almost everyone will enjoy. The backdrop of the great depression is extremely well done and was a perfect setting for this coming of age tale. I’ve not read any books set in this era before and was shocked at the scale of poverty in America, but the author does a brilliant job in showing how most people stay hopeful in the worst of circumstances. The scenes set in the shantytowns were especially powerful.

If you enjoy novels like The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, you will love this. It was a bit sweet for my taste, and one of the characters were almost childishly evil, so it loses one star, but still a brilliant read.
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"...this beautiful, tender land"

"Sure this is hard work, but it’s good work because it’s a part of what connects us to this land. This beautiful, tender land."

I loved this story. It tells of four young people (three of them orphans placed in a government Indian boarding school in Minnesota). It is 1932 in the middle of the Great Depression. Children at the school are treated horribly with beatings, slave labor, solitary confinement, and sometimes worse.

So the four young people run away - with the school and the law on their heels - escaping in a canoe and headed to St. Louis.

The story tells of their ordeals, the good and bad people they meet, as they all try to find a safe home.

This book reminded me in many ways of a few of author Joe Lansdale's standalone novels. He often has young protagonists too and the writing styles are similar to me. And that's a huge compliment from me because Lansdale is one of my favorite authors.

I highly recommend this story to readers that want to experience a moving journey via the pages of a book.

I received this book from Atria Books through Net Galley in the hopes that I would read it and leave an unbiased review.
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So much love for this book. A group of four young orphans flee the Lincoln School (a home for Native American children) during the Depression era. A classic adventure story that starts off in Minnesota via canoe but becomes much more complicated. I fell in love with the fantastic cast of characters that the orphans encountered, as well as the orphans themselves. A compelling story that is a true page turner. I was sad when it was over and still think about the characters.

If you are a fan of John Irving, this book will appeal to you.

This will be discussed on Episode 90 of the Book Cougars podcast.
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I am clearly in the minority on this one but I didn’t care for this book. It went on for too long, lacked the rich character development I was expecting and was unrealistic - something I’m not a fan of. Also for not being a Christian book I felt like I was being hit over the head with religion the entire book. Not what I was expecting.
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This Tender Land starts off slow and it took me a while to get into, but it is such a thought-provoking adventure read about a group of children struggling to find their place in the world. They each found challenges, strength, and success. I wanted to protect these children and help guide them, and this book was very powerful in this way. 

Thank you for my advanced copy! This was a wonderful read.
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I enjoyed this book but I was not in love with it as I had hoped to be. It reminded me too much of Huckleberry Finn with more kids. There were too many coincidences and unbelievable aspects that didn't ring true for me.
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This Tender Land was our monthly group read for October in our Traveling Friends Goodreads group. This mesmerizing and absorbing read makes for such a great group read. There is so much to think about and talk about.

This Tender Land swept me away on a thought-provoking adventure along the river with the children here in the story and I lost my heart to them as they searched for their place in the world. I was captivated by the children and their personal journey and adventures. They encounter challenges, threats and kindness from strangers along the way. I loved how with each turn or twist of the river, they learned something about themselves, each other, people and the world around them. In turn, I learned something about myself or saw something different in the world around me.

William Kent Krueger offers up his heart here is this remarkable affecting beautiful story full of hope and possibilities not only for these endearing characters but for us as well.

“In asking you to read This Tender Land, I am, in a way, offering you my heart."

There is some tension here with the danger lurking in every turn. I found myself rooting, fearing for the children and yes, shouting at them at times. I wanted to protect them and was silently teaching them about the ways of the world in my mind but it was them that taught me something. I highly recommend reading this one and as Odie said "Open yourself to every possibility for there is nothing your heart can imagine that is not so"

I received a copy from the publisher on NetGalley.

My blog post
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4.5 Stars! Beautifully written and character driven, this is a story that will stick with me for a while! It's 1932 and 4 young orphans escape from a Native Indian boarding school in Minnesota after a series of terrible events, corruption and abuse. They hop in a canoe and travel down river - heading in search for a long lost relative that they haven't seen in years. I loved the people they meet along the way and the adventures that bring them together. I also loved that this takes place in Mankato and the twin cities area - which made it even more appealing to read!
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A beautiful story of hope, redemption and finding our own place in the world. Classic William Kent Krueger, one of my favorite authors. For fans of Leif Enger, Kent Haruf, and Elizabeth Strout. Also likely to have big appeal for those looking for a good follow up to Where the Crawdads Sing. Thank you to Netgalley for the advanced reader copy! Highly recommend!
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Krueger’s Ordinary Grace remains one of my favorite reads of all time so I came into this with pretty lofty expectations. My expectations were easily exceeded. These four unassuming vagabonds will pull you into their lives where you’ll never want to leave. My heartstrings will forever be attached to these characters. There are so many beautiful and poignant quotes in this that my highlights look like a novel in themselves. One of my favorites- 

“Only God is perfect, Odie. To the rest of us, he gave all kinds of wrinkles and cracks. If we were perfect, the light he shines on us would just bounce right off. But the wrinkles, they catch the light. And the cracks, that’s how the light gets inside us. When I pray, Odie, I never pray for perfection. I pray for forgiveness, because it’s the one prayer I know will always be answered.” 

I can not recommend this novel enough.
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Beautiful story about the journey of four young friends during the Great Depression. Gut-wrenching and redemptive. Excellent writing.
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What a fantastic journey this book takes us on! Although there were many destinations along this journey, I never found myself bored or wondering where the story was going. I also loved that the author included the narrator's reflections from the future, making this a more realistic story from an elder. Lots of moments of chills toward the end..the name, especially.
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This was a great read. I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoys Krueger’s work.  The characters were easy to commiserate with and were likable.
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The epic story of This Tender Land is full of adventure. I quickly found myself invested in the story. I even caught myself reminiscing about books written back in the day. This Tender Land is a great story with interesting characters who I came to care about. This is a bit of a long book, but I very much enjoyed the engaging story and the vibrant characters.
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