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This Tender Land

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This Tender Land

September 2019

THIS TENDER LAND --- like ORDINARY GRACE, William Kent Krueger's bestselling 2013 novel --- is another brilliant stand-alone, a departure from his Cork O’Connor series. It is atmospheric like WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING, and sparks thoughts of BEFORE WE WERE YOURS and ORPHAN TRAIN. While the bayou is the setting for CRAWDADS, here we have an orphan and his friends meandering down the mighty rivers of the Midwest to escape the Lincoln School in Minnesota where they were mistreated.

Their travels are reminiscent of Huck Finn, giving readers a real sense of the land and the water, as well as the camaraderie of this merry band. They start at the Gilead River in Minnesota and then head to the Mississippi, hitting small towns as well as cities along the way, each of which is in the throes of the Great Depression. Their goal is to find family and safety in St. Louis. As their adventure continues, Odie O’Banion and his traveling companions --- Albert, Mose and Emmy --- bond into their own version of a family as they navigate both the rivers and their own troubled lives. The journey that Kent maps out for these intrepid children will challenge them --- and from it they will grow.

While the Depression has been explored in other works, here we are seeing it through the eyes of children who have been hardened by circumstance, which gave me a new take on it. Kent’s writing is beautiful; this is a story to be savored, not rushed. For book groups, there is a lot to discuss.

And if you find yourself hankering to hear some harmonica or banjo music after reading, a playlist of music inspired by THIS TENDER LAND can be found on Kent’s website, as well as a number of ancillary materials to enhance your reading experience.

This Tender Land
by William Kent Krueger

  • Publication Date: September 3, 2019
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • ISBN-10: 1476749299
  • ISBN-13: 9781476749297