November 7, 2019
Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Coming of Age, Adventure, Great Depression
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
A journey to find safety, love, and home….
During the Great Depression, four orphans escape from the Lincoln School in Minnesota, an unhappy and perilous home/institution for Native American children where they had little food, harsh punishments, and suffered abuse. This quartet of miserable children consists of rebellious, free-spirited, and harmonica-playing Odie; his responsible and conscientious older brother Albert; their best friend and Native American, Mose; and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy. The foursome makes their escape in a canoe down the Gilead River toward the Mississippi in search of a safe place to call home and people to love them. They become found family to each other and survive encounters with all types of people.
Amazon Rating: 4.7 Stars
Writing: An unforgettable and memorable story, Krueger’s writing in This Tender Land is lyrical and a joy to read! Some of the circumstances require a suspension of disbelief, but I was so wrapped up in the story and the writing that I was willing to go there with the author. Filled with vivid setting descriptions, colorful characters, and harrowing adventures, the story is a page-turner. I’m rounding this up to five stars because the author wrote an emotionally engaging story with characters I cared about. I couldn’t put it down until I knew the outcome for the four “vagabonds.”
Characters: These four children! :::::sigh::::: I cared about their well being, wanted to protect them, and cheered for them to find a forever home. They have a common goal to escape their dire circumstances at the Lincoln School, but they each have individual struggles, too. The story also features a cast of colorful and memorable (some unlikeable) supporting characters.
Themes: Thoughtful themes in This Tender Land include found family, survival, searching for safety and home, loyalty, friendship, helping others, homelessness, generosity, bravery, faith, reconciliation, and healing.
Because of references to Giliad, I kept thinking of the refrain to the song:
“There is a Balm in Gilead“
There is a balm in Gilead
to make the wounded whole.
There is a balm in Gilead
to heal the sinsick soul.
Recommended: This Tender Land is recommended for readers who appreciate a well-written, poignant, and lyrical story by a master storyteller, for fans of William Kent Krueger (Ordinary Grace), for those who love historical fiction and adventure stories, and definitely for book clubs.
***Content Warning: Child abuse and neglect (if this were a movie, I would rate it PG-13)
My Rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 on Goodreads)
This Tender Land Information (affiliate link)
Meet the Author, William Kent Krueger
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