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This Tender Land: A Novel (original 2019; edition 2020)
by William Kent Krueger (Author)
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger (2019)
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Great story set in the depression. Alcohol pervades life for some. Even in hard times, most people are kind. ( )
The story of four orphans who embark on an odyssey of self-discovery and survival during the Great Depression. Set in Minnesota, the book explores themes of love, loss, and redemption as the children face a variety of challenges and meet a cast of colorful characters along the way. Vivid prose and a powerful message--I highly recommend.
Christian fiction with the emotional depth of a lifetime movie.
This is the first person account of “the four vagabonds,” told by 12-year-old harmonica-playing, storytelling Odie. It is 1932, in the midst of the Depression, and Odie, his older brother, Albert, their Indian friend, Mose, and six-year-old Emmy are traveling by canoe to what Odie hopes is home in St. Louis. All four are orphans who had been living in unacceptable circumstances at an Indian boarding school in Minnesota with its vicious superintendent. The life they are leaving is based on what really did go on at many Indian boarding schools.
Yes, the four are trying to escape their present environment, but the three boys are also running from the law. It is mistakenly believed that they have kidnapped Emmy.
They are paddling their canoe down rivers to their destination, often with no food. Along the way they meet people both good and bad.
Although Odie is angry with God, one person he meets who becomes his friend is a woman of God who heads religious crusades. She has the gift of being able to see someone's past. As time goes on, she recognizes that Emmy also has a gift, being able to see someone's future and sometimes being able to alter it slightly.
Of course, they meet others, too, such as a horrible man who forces them at gunpoint to work on his failing farm. They also meet many families living in "Hoovervilles," groups of people living in makeshift tents or shacks, and befriend some of them. The four vagabonds find friends to help them get where they're headed and foes trying to find them.
Although the depicted treatment of Indians and Indian boarding schools is accurate, I found other parts of this story too hard to believe. And those parts, for me, made this book seem young adultish, not meant to be questioned by an adult. As a YA book, though, this is excellent.
That said, the first few chapters of this book are full of the child abuse that occurred at the Indian boarding school, which, however accurate, I found difficult to read. You have to get past that.
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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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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