By William Kent Krueger
450 pages, published September 2019
Source: Purchased through BOTM but listened to the book on Libro.fm through the ALC program
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.
I listened to this book on Libro.fm via an Advanced Listener Copy. Scott Brick was the perfect narrator for this book. It was a fantastic listen, though I recommend reading this book in any format you can get your hands on. This Tender Land is absolutely one of my top favorite reads of 2019. This book is a brilliant historical fiction centered around an epic journey of four young vagabonds trying to survive and find their place in the world and the true feeling of home. I instantly fell in love with Odie, Albert, Mose, and sweet Emmy. Though the book was on the long side, it never felt that way and I didn't want the book to end. I rooted for these characters and grew so attached to them. I wanted to finish the book to know what happened to them but I didn't want to leave them, either.
This book had so many themes and life lessons throughout the book as they encountered other people on their journey to St. Louis. Love, loss, family, forgiveness, and so much more. It shed light on the struggles and day to day reality of those living in the Depression era midwest, as well as the treatment of Native Americans before and during that time. The writing and storytelling style was beautiful. This book will warm your heart and give you all the feels. Everything about this book is fantastic--the writing, the characters, the setting, the story. I cannot recommend this book enough! It deserves more than five stars. This is my first read by William Kent Krueger and I have already added Ordinary Grace to my to read list.
From the beginning of Chapter 53:
"We breathe love in and we breathe love out. It's the essence of our existence, the very air of our souls."
Happy Reading, friends!