"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Friday, July 16, 2021

Review and quotes: THIS TENDER LAND

: This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

Book Beginnings quote:

(Prologue) In the beginning, after he labored over the heavens and the earth, the light and the dark, the land and sea and all living things that dwell therein, after he created man and woman and before he rested, I believe God gave us one final gift. Lest we forget the divine source of all that beauty, he gave us stories.

Friday56 quote

I'd lost my mother and my father. I'd been beaten, degraded, thrown into isolation, but until that moment, I'd never lost hope that someday things would be better.

Summary: Part Homer's Odyssey, part Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and part Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, the narrator of This Tender Land is Odie who, like his namesake Odysseus (Latin for Ulysses), is a story-teller and a musician. He tells the tale of four vagabonds in 1932 in the midst of the Great Depression -- himself; his older brother Albert; Mose, a teenage Sioux student who is mute; and Emmy, a young girl, recently orphaned -- who set off down the Mississippi River in a canoe in an attempt to escape from the horrors of the Lincoln Indian Boarding School. They are pursued by the director of the school and his wife. Along the way they are briefly captured and detained by an unpredictable farmer who seems intent on enslaving them. After escaping their captors the four children fall in with Sister Eve and her tent revival troop escaping again in the nick of time. Next they end up spending time near an encampment of displaced families known as a Hooverville. The children's goal is to find a home. Will they find it on Ithaca Street in St. Louis with Aunt Julia?

Review: A friend, who is a retired English teacher, recommended this book to me in a note saying, "This was my favorite book read in 2020." Not being a literature major myself, I missed a lot of the literary references until they clunked me on the head near the end of the book. Now I wish I could reread it with an eye for all of them. The author wanted to write an American saga similar to Huck Finn but accomplished much more by tucking in so much information about what life was like in the despicable Indian Boarding Schools, the desperation of so many people living in Hoovervilles during the Depression, life along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, and even the old-timey tent revivals. And the whole time, like Ulysses (Odysseus) of old, looking for a way home. It really is a masterpiece and I understand why my friend enjoyed it so much. I'm sure my book club will find a lot to discuss as we digest This Tender Land together next week during out meeting.

Odie was a storyteller. In the epilogue he tells us about the importance of this story, which I think is a perfect way to close a book:

(Epilogue) "As I told you in the beginning, this is all ancient history. There are not many left who remember these things. But I believe if you tell a story, it's like sending out a nightingale into the air with hopes that is song will never be forgotten...In every good tale there is a seed of truth, and from that seed a lovely story grows. Some of what I've told you is true and some...well, let's just call it the bloom on the rosebush."

In an interview with the author, William Ken Krueger said he set out to write a companion book to another of his stand-alone novels, Ordinary Grace. In that book, as in this one, the main character is a young boy who has a wounded spirit that needs healing. Though the process of reading stories, Krueger tells us, we too can be healed from our wounds as we see the characters surviving and thriving despite their own. This is what I love about books. The title, This Tender Land, refers to the sacredness of nature and our connection to it. As Odie and his little band of vagabonds explore the river their eyes are open to its sacredness. If this doesn't make you want to read the story, I don't know what will.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.   


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  1. I hope you enjoy this story--I loved it.

  2. Great review. Enjoy your current read and have a great weekend!

  3. My book club just read this one a couple of months back. We enjoyed it but it didn't knock anyone's socks off. I think I've read too many books that "retell" the Odyssey so whenever I come across a one-eyed character, I think, "Here we go again!"

  4. Great review. Hope you have a great weekend!

  5. Sounds wonderful. I’ll put it on my list.

  6. Wonderful review! This Tender Land is one of my all-time favorite books. Beautifully written. ♥

  7. I absolutely love that opening, I do think storytelling is one of humanity's most beautiful gifts. I'll definitely be looking this one up :) Thanks for sharing and have a lovely weekend!

  8. I really want to read this one!

  9. Sounds great! I LOVE that beginning. Thanks for sharing! Hope you have a great weekend! :)

  10. You give us so much to think about with your posts. Thank you!

  11. This does sound intriguing. I have read several books where I had wished it was more obvious what they were supposed to be about, because it changes the perspective of the story and you "get" it sooner. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Ok. I have had this on my TBR shelf for a long time and have been avoiding it, have totally forgotten what it's about, etc etc. Your review reminded me of why I got a copy in the first place! Thank you

  13. This sounds wonderful! I don't think I've read anything by Krueger before, but I have heard good things. This sounds immersive and set against a fascinating historical backdrop. I'm interested to hear what your book group things - sounds like a good one for discussion!

    Congrats on finishing another Big Book!


    Book By Book

    1. Our book club discussion went very well. We had a lot to talk about. One of our members is a retired English teacher so she walked us through several of the literary allusions. We also read Ordinary Grace together several years ago and really liked that book, too.

  14. Stunning review. I was looking forward to reading this, and now I am even more. Happy reading.


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