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This Tender Land: A Novel by William Kent…
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This Tender Land: A Novel (original 2019; edition 2020)

by William Kent Krueger (Author)

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1,5851019,626 (4.26)98
1932, Minnesota--the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O'Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent's wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will fly into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic.… (more)
Member:ejaneduvall
Title:This Tender Land: A Novel
Authors:William Kent Krueger (Author)
Info:Atria (2020), Edition: Reprint, 464 pages
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This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger (2019)

  1. 00
    To the Bright and Shining Sun by James Lee Burke (gypsysmom)
    gypsysmom: Krueger and Burke have similar writing styles. Plus both books are about young people caught in difficult economic times.
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» See also 98 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
If I had to describe in a word--charming, evocative, contemplative. And I learned a bit about what it was maybe like to live through the Great Depression. Usually I get to a point in a novel where I can't put it down, if it's decent. With this book, I felt as if I were drifting along the Mississippi myself, knowing more adventures were coming, not in a hurry to get there, but enjoying each one. I liked the ending, but even more the Epilogue. How often does a novelist tell us what happened to his characters after the story ends? ( )
  fromthecomfychair | Oct 31, 2022 |
Coming of age story, initially set in Minnesota during the Great Depression. Protagonist Odie O’Banion and his brother, Albert, are orphans at a Native American school. The people running the school do not have the kids’ best interests at heart. They beat them, use them as free labor, and lock them in small rooms at night (and worse). Odie, Albert, and their mute friend, Mose, escape the school with a young girl. They must flee, as they are accused of a violent crime as well as kidnapping the girl. The book tells the story of their journey to find their only living relative.

There is not a lot of subtlety in this book. Odie is short for Odysseus. Four orphaned vagabonds go on a quest and experience many adventures. They take a canoe down the Gilead River. It is told in the manner of a folktale. It contains religious overtones, a faith healer, and an extraordinary “power.” The villains of the piece are the epitome of evil. The abuses at the school are horrific.

The storyteller of the narrative is an older Odie looking back on his younger self. He points out the story contains part truth and part fabrication. This approach did not quite work for me. It felt like I was being told a “tall tale.” I had previously read Ordinary Grace, which I enjoyed very much and recommend.
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
An homage to Huckleberry Finn and The Odyssey, this tells of 12-year-old Odie O'Banion’s coming-of-age summer in 1932, when he, his brother and two friends escaped a brutal Indian boarding school in Depression-era Minnesota and began a quest to find family, home and self. The settings were excellent and it's a pleasant read but sort of slow and circular; and Odie's now-octogenarian narrative voice seemed inconsistent -- sometimes the wise elder looking back, often a young-adult (or even juvenile) style with a preachy tone. ( )
  DetailMuse | Oct 25, 2022 |
Marvelous, evocative tale of four orphans on the run in Depression-era America, who take to the rivers of Minnesota in an attempt to travel to St. Louis and the possibility of a home two of them barely remember and two have never known.

For 13-year-old Odie, his 17-year-old brother Albert, their mute Native American friend, Mose, and six-year-old Emmy, the journey is as much internal as external as the self-styled "Vagabonds" navigate many kinds of troubled waters. Leaving behind a corrupt Indian Training School / unofficial orphanage and fleeing from violence they could neither control nor avoid, they must use their wits and varied talents simply to survive.

Comparisons to "Huckleberry Finn" are inevitable; in fact author Krueger forthrightly admits he was inspired by Twain's classic. And as in the older work, the children meet many people along their journey, some helping them, some hoping to gain something for themselves. But the shadow of the Great Depression is never far from this story, as Odie in particular meets other wanderers, each struggling against the odds to survive and succeed, and as he says, "With every turn of the river, we were changing, becoming different people, and for the first time I understood that the journey we were on wasn't just about getting to Saint Louis."

Not every reader will embrace everything the novel offers. Two of the characters have what old country grannies would call "Second Sight"; others undergo about-face conversions from behaviors which in reality are seldom changed. There are coincidental meetings galore, familiar characters turning up in unfamiliar places, plus one final key plot point sure to make readers of Dickens nod their heads knowingly. (And again, Krueger gives props to his inspirations.) There's also a spiritual undercurrent, played out largely through Odie's coming of age.

As Krueger says in the Epilogue, "There is a river that runs through time and the universe, vast and inexplicable, a flow of spirit that is at the heart of all existence, and every molecule of our being is a part of it. And what is God but the whole of that river?"

Readers who will let that river flow through them will find a satisfying read here, peopled with many well-drawn characters (along with a few more shallowly developed players), and a lot of fine emotional scenery along the way. ( )
  LyndaInOregon | Oct 15, 2022 |
I give it 3.5 stars, but rounded up because I really like the author, especially his Cork O'Connor series.

This book was a roller coaster, with lots of ups and downs. I enjoyed it, but I'm a bit of a sucker for sad books with lots of good and evil, heroes and demons, etc. It was basically a fairy tale in many ways, with simple themes that didn't seem that real, although it was more interesting than a simple young adult or children's book.

I think there were a few things that made it less than perfect.

Firstly, it was too long to be a fairy tale, and didn't seem real enough to be an epic historical fiction, or whatever it tried to be. The young people didn't really seem to act like young people at all. The times were different (1930s), and perhaps they grew up faster than now. But it was easy to forget that they were young kids, then it was a little jarring to suddenly be reminded about it.

Secondly, I think the story seemed a bit too contrived, with situations that were meant to play with our emotions. The characters didn't really seem real, and the situations sometimes seemed to just be a soap opera where things go bad, then suddenly lady luck comes along to make it seem like it's going to improve, but then luck runs out and it goes back down, etc.

I liked this book less than any of his other ones, but it was still a good story unless you're overly cynical about life in general. Some people thought it was too long, but that in itself is not something that bothers me, because I like long books if they're good. Makes it easier not to have to keep deciding what to read next. :-) ( )
1 vote MartyFried | Oct 9, 2022 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Krueger, William Kentprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story.
-Homer, The Odyssey
Dedication
For Boopie, with love
First words
In the beginning, after he labored over the heavens and the earth, the light and the dark, the land and sea and all living things that dwell therein, after he created man and woman and before he rested, I believe God gave us one final gift.
Quotations
“Ask me, God’s right here. In the dirt, the rain, the sky, the trees, the apples, the stars in the cottonwoods. In you and me, too. It’s all connected and it’s all God. 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.”

William Kent Krueger. This Tender Land: A Novel (Kindle Locations 4-6). Atria Books. Kindle Edition.
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1932, Minnesota--the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O'Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent's wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will fly into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic.

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