Book Review | This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger #bookreview #newreleases

img_2145-1Genre: American Historical Fiction

Published: September 3, 2019

Pages: 450

Provenance: I purchased this book – October 2019.

My Thoughts

The four main characters were Odie (Odysseus), Albert, Mose, and Emmy. They are four orphans making their way by canoe to St. Louis to escape a particularly cruel headmistress at an all Indian, boarding school that’s corrupt. It’s the early 1930s and there is great poverty and times are hard. The children are abused and overworked and mistreated.

Each of the children has a personal struggle to manage and along the way, they have encounters that have them questioning their assumptions. They meet good and bad people along the way and it was hard to see them have to grow up so quickly. Sister Eve was an Evangelical healer they met along the way who offers to help them, and it’s not obvious whether she is on their side or not.

The setting of a good portion of the novel is set along the river Gilead, which the author explored personally. He mentions in the author’s note that he envisioned this story to be another Huckleberry Finn.

The story itself had some exciting moments especially when it looked like the Brickmans had caught up to them. It felt long in parts but the beautiful and vivid descriptions of the people and places kept my interest. I am very interested in reading more by this author, particularly his previous book, No Ordinary Grace.

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Book Description

For fans of Before We Were Yours and Where the Crawdads Sing, a magnificent novel about four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the New York Times 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.

About The Author

Raised in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, William Kent Krueger briefly attended Stanford University—before being kicked out for radical activities. After that, he logged timber, worked construction, tried his hand at freelance journalism, and eventually ended up researching child development at the University of Minnesota. He currently makes his living as a full-time author. He’s been married for over 40 years to a marvelous woman who is a retired attorney. He makes his home in St. Paul, a city he dearly loves.

Krueger writes a mystery series set in the north woods of Minnesota. His protagonist is Cork O’Connor, the former sheriff of Tamarack County and a man of mixed heritage—part Irish and part Ojibwe. His work has received a number of awards, including the Minnesota Book Award, the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, and the Friends of American Writers Prize. His last nine novels were all New York Times bestsellers.

Ordinary Grace, his stand-alone novel published in 2013, received the Edgar Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America in recognition for the best novel published in that year. The companion novel, This Tender Land, is scheduled for publication in September 2019.

I got to meet William “Kent” Krueger at Book Carnival in Orange, California on October 1st. It was a pleasure to hear him speak about what it’s meant to him to be a writer. He is best known for his long running series featuring Cork O’Connor.


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  1. I have this book on my kindle and really need to get to it. Such a timely issue when countries are dealing with reconciliation. Great review. Lucky you to meet the author.


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