This Tender Land Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
The acclaimed author of Ordinary Grace crafts a powerful novel about an orphan's life-changing adventure traveling down America's great rivers during the Great Depression, seeking both a place to call home and a sense of purpose in a world sinking into despair.
"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."
1932: Located on the banks of the Gilead River in Minnesota, Lincoln School is home to hundreds of Native American boys and girls who have been separated from their families. The only two white boys in the school are orphan brothers Odie and Albert, who, under the watchful eyes of the cruel superintendent Mrs. Brickman, are often in trouble for misdeeds both real and imagined. The two boys' best friend is Mose, a mute Native American who is also the strongest kid in school. And they find another ally in Cora Frost, a widowed teacher who is raising her little girl, Emmy, by herself.
When tragedy strikes down Mrs. Frost, it's the catalyst for a series of events that will send Odie, Albert, and Mose to rescue Emmy and flee down the river in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi, leaving a dead body in their wake. Soon, they are wanted by the law, and they know that Mrs. Brickman will stop at nothing to track them down for dark reasons of her own. Over the course of this unforgettable summer, Odie, Albert, Mose, and Emmy carefully make their way through the small river towns and big cities filled with people who are by turns desperate and generous, cruel and kind. As they search for a place to belong, these four remarkable children will lose their innocence but gain the strength to survive in the face of terrible loss.
With his signature "pitch-perfect, wonderfully evocative" (Dennis Lehane, New York Times best-selling author) prose, William Kent Krueger's This Tender Land shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.
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|Listening Length||14 hours and 19 minutes|
|Author||William Kent Krueger|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||September 03, 2019|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #1,283 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#2 in Native American Literature (Audible Books & Originals)
#14 in Native American Literature (Books)
#24 in Coming of Age Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
Reviewed in the United States on September 19, 2019
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'This Tender Land' takes place during the Great Depression. Four boys at Lincoln School, a school where Native American children are forcibly sent to be educated, run away. Giving away the reasons would spoil the story as would mentioning the resolution to the mystery of how two Irish boys ended up at this particular school.
Some will question how four children, especially the four year old, could so successfully fend for themselves. Those questioners undoubtedly are comparing today's youth to those in 1932. There is no comparison. Children back then were resilient and toughened to hard work and adept at surviving. They encountered adults along the way who provided some assistance as well. Plus having no choice but to fend for themselves or get arrested provided plenty of incentive to survive on their own.
The author took the same journey down the Mississippi River that he sends the children on in their canoe which would explain why their journey feels authentic. The people they meet and adventures they have is a great story. Some of those encountered on their journey to finding a 'home and family' are an adult Native American hobo type, a faith healer and her entourage and a family in one of the Hoovervilles that sprang up all over the country due to people losing farms and jobs. All along the way they know the law is looking for them as the headmistress at Lincoln School very much wanted the four year old child for reasons that would be a spoiler. She wanted rid of the other three children after she retrieves incriminating records they took from the school when running away.
This book should became a modern day classic. The desire for a home with a family and questioning God and faith woven into this great story provides depth. While I read the review copy and there may be changes to the final copy, this statement is meaningful whether it remains or not. In reference to nightmares by the younger brother (the adult storyteller of this story) it is noted: "Everything that's been done to us we carry forever. Most of us do our damnedest to hold on to the good and forget the rest. . . ." (Page 126, review copy.) There are a couple more sentences to this very true statement as we are all a sum total of our life experiences whether we admit to it or aware of it or not.
Readers of classic literature and of just plain ole good stories will not regret pre-ordering this book. As I mentioned I was unfamiliar with Mr. Krueger but immediately on finishing this book, I ordered "Ordinary Grace" and will order other books by him as I read along. A sad regret of my own life is that there are more good authors writing far more good books than I'll ever be able to read! I simply loved this book. Highly recommended.
This novel really has everything one could wish for: vivid characterizations, historical verisimilitude, an intricate and fast-moving plot, and honest confrontation with the reality of good and evil as it is played out in the lives of ordinary people challenged by the ordeals of the Great Depression. Although some might question the authenticity of the maturity levels attributed to the two youngest children, “almost” 13-year-old narrator Odie and 4-year-old Emmy, it doesn’t come across as in any sense contrived. These are children already aware that while fantasy can lighten challenging circumstances, there is a base line of grim reality which must be negotiated.
This story also has a unifying thread of spirituality, love and hope which – while never intrusive or preachy – powerfully enriches the narrative. The two vignettes of the children’s encounters with Sister Eve and her healing ministry as well as with the Schofield family in the shanty town of “Hopersville” give deep insight into the ways in which community and compassion provide the impetus for survival even in the darkest times. In addition, though the book lays out the infamous history of the betrayal of the Indian people (specifically the Sioux, given the upper-Midwestern setting of the story) by the Government and greedy, abusive whites, it allows forgiveness and redemption to play a significant role. Author Krueger has accomplished a marvel of a work which simultaneously challenges, convicts, and uplifts.
The four runaways are very interesting and well drawn characters as are the people they meet in their travels. This is a wonderful adventure story despite the backdrop of the Great Depression and the horrific abuse the inmates, er wards suffer at the Lincoln School. Sadly, the runaways face some adversities in their travels, but nothing to the level of what they knew at the Lincoln School. (A good companion book to this one is Jodi Picoult's "Second Glance” which addresses Native American exploitation and legally sanctioned enforced sterilization and incarceration.)
A Depression era Huckleberry Finn retelling, of sorts, but a wonderful story that will keep readers riveted and afloat to the very last page.