This Tender Land

This Tender Land

A Novel

Book - 2019
Average Rating:
Rate this:

"If you liked Where the Crawdads Sing, you'll love This Tender Land ...This story is as big-hearted as they come." -- Parade

A magnificent novel about four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the bestselling author of Ordinary Grace .

1932, Minnesota--the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O'Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent's wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.
Publisher: New York : Atria Books, ©2019.
ISBN: 9781476749297
Characteristics: 450 pages ;,24 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Nov 24, 2019

As the title will suggest, this book captures a particular place and time with great sensitivity: Minnesota, small towns and countryside, depression era. And always the presence of a river and the people who inhabit that land. Some readers may consider the plot to be derivative (runaway youngsters, economic or social outcasts, fleeing down a river — Huck Finn is sure to come to mind). Yes, the villains are perhaps a bit too evil and starkly overdrawn (but sadly, such people did exist and still do). Others may think the book overly sentimental, with hints of magical realism, calling for suspension of disbelief. One may say it's predictable — although there are certainly some unforeseen twists later on.
No matter; all is forgiven when we're presented with such an engaging group of kids who have been subjected to far more injustice and grief than any kids should have to endure, and show enormous courage and resourcefulness. And the story is told in straightforward unadorned language, no literary tricks or pretension; in places the prose reminded me of Kent Haruf, which says a lot.
Just a really good story, well told.

Nov 07, 2019

great great book

Nov 03, 2019

Thought provoking and worth reading, but I prefer the mysteries.

STPL_Kerry Oct 26, 2019

I am a fan of William Kent Krueger and this one did not disappoint. It is an impactful, plot-driven novel, and I love the way Krueger weaves these beautifully layered, flawed characters. The protagonists go through so much (at times I felt too much!), but through their harrowing experiences at the hands of awful people we also see the beautiful side of human nature; generosity when there is so little to share, kindness even though they have been shown so much hate, and the willingness to love and let people in, even when they have been hurt so much. If you enjoyed Ordinary Grace I think that you will like this book as well.

Oct 25, 2019

I am very conflicted about this book. Kent is a masterful story teller. I first read Ordinary Grace about 15 months ago and have read several of the Cork O'Connor series since then. Somehow, this book just did not work for me. The story line was intriguing and the prose well written. I really enjoy the mystical portions of his novels. The end of the story was simple too neat to be believable. Also, Kent, do to his very liberal political views, included several paragraphs that really did nothing to enhance the story, but furthered his views. I had been really looking forward to this novel and wish I could give it a higher review.

Oct 17, 2019

I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters were well developed and varied. A great read.

Oct 10, 2019

One of the most depressing books I have ever read. Well written, but not much of an ending to prevent depression. I do not recommend this at all.

Oct 03, 2019

Four young vagabonds venture on an odyssey through Minnesota by river, ending in Saint Louis, in 1932.

Krueger tells a page-turning story of four young orphans' search for ‘home’ in the midst of the Great Depression with historical references that add meat to this story’s bones. Loved it. Two Minnesota historical events he includes I’d read in other books might be of interest to others. Consider reading Mary Relindes Ellis’s 'The Bohemian Flats' and Diane Wilson’s 'Spirit Car: Journey into a Dakota Past.'

Sep 28, 2019

I liked the novel, but prefer the mysteries. Kristi & Abby Tabby

Sep 19, 2019

4 1/2 - 5 star read. I love William Kent Krueger's books and this stand alone was an exceptional read, filled with interesting characters and a terrific storyline. 4 orphans meet at the Lincoln Indian Training School in Minnesota in 1932, at the time of the Great Depression. Albert and his brother Odie are the only white kids in the school. Odie is a rebel and seems to always be doing things that merit harsh punishment. The woman who runs the school, known to the kids as the Black Witch, seems to have a particular need to punish Odie. Their best friend is Mose, a young mute Sioux boy. When they finally escape the school, they take young Emmy with them. They take to the river in a canoe and plan to head to St. Louis, where Albert and Odie have a barely remembered Aunt. Along the way, they have adventures, some good, some bad. The journey teaches them life skills and who to trust. And at times, it divides them. This is a book with heart and is a great story that I found hard to put down. An excellent read.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top