Book review by Dinh.
Apparently if you liked Where The Crawdads Sing, then you’ll love This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger according to Parade Magazine. There were so many praises for this book and it was so highly recommended that we had to check it out for ourselves!
Having read Kueger’s Ordinary Grace (such a great book), I had high hopes going into This Tender Land.
Did it meet my expectations? Yes!
Here’s why you should read it:
This Tender Land has a great story line.
Set in the 1930s, with the backdrop of the Great Depression, it’s a about the coming of age of Odie O’Banion and his brother Albert.
As orphans Odie and Albert were adopted to Minnesota’s Lincoln School for Native American even though they are white. We find out why they are the only white boys in school of Indian children later in the book.
After a crime was committed, Albert, Odie and his best friend Mose, and a little orphan girl Emmy flee the Lincoln School and head to find a place they can call home.
The plot reminds me of Mark Twain’s Adventures Huckleberry Finn.
Krueger has nailed this book perfectly; from the story line to the characters.
The pace of the book was great! I was totally immersed from the first page and didn’t want to put it down.
The plot was interesting and detailed and Krueger created a richness in the characters that made me want to read more. It was a page-turner for sure!
Krueger does a good job in portraying the atrocities at the Lincoln School and bringing historical events in focus that made the book even better. I was horrified by ways the children were treated and how abusive the Lincoln School was.
Moreover, I was moved by their adventures in their journey. They escaped the brutal Indian School, and met other dangers, but through it all they strengthened their bonds. This book had a lot of heart!
Krueger did a great job with the setting. The Great Depression era was superbly done and added to the narrative making it historically realistic. I really enjoyed the parts with Sister Eve and how she traveled around the country giving hope to all those in need in desperate times.
Throughout the book, you get to understand Odie and his companions and you’ll end up rooting for them.
Krueger brought the vagabonds to life!
- Odie O’Banion
The novel is told through Odie’s point of view and I felt connected to him through his lens.
Krueger does a good job in developing Odie’s character as he travels on the Mississippi. Odie was only 12, almost 13, and some of his decisions and how he feels about something was reflected in the story realistically.
Odie was likeable and good at heart. I liked that he questioned God throughout the book. This was part of his journey, trying to find his identity. We see him at the beginning of the book, mad at God, and painting the water tower with “God is a tornado” to being almost a man by the end of it.
Although spirituality was a main theme, I did not feel like that the author was trying to preach. Rather, it added a dimension to the historical accuracy for the time period. In those desperate times, people turned to god for hope and answers.
I loved the other characters in the book too. Albert, Mose and Emmy will stay with me long after the book is finished.
Not to give spoilers but I was surprised with the ending. I was so engrossed in the book that I didn’t really think about what would happen to Odie toward the end.
I also enjoyed the twist that was thrown in at the end. That twist made me all fuzzy inside and left me with a light heart.
Overall, a great ending!
My Final Thoughts
I loved this powerful coming of age story with the backdrop of the Great Depression era. This was a wonderfully written page-turner book. A compelling novel that will move your heart as you root for the children to find a place called home.
I highly recommend This Tender Land!
Belong to a book club? Check out This Tender Land book club discussion questions.