Top positive review
THIS TENDER LAND: A NOVEL
Reviewed in the United States on July 17, 2019
It is mentioned in the description for this book that if one liked 'Where the Crawdads Sing,' then the reader would also like this book. Since I loved 'Crawdads,' I selected it even though I was unfamiliar with the author, William Kent Krueger. While the story is different from 'Crawdads,' I agree with the assessment that anyone liking one will like the other. I thoroughly enjoyed and loved both books.
'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.