This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger is my book club’s August pick. It has gotten great press and incredible reviews so I was excited to read it. It was a good book, but I feel in the minority because I am not gushing about it. A blurb on the cover states “If you liked Where the Crawdads Sing, you’ll love This Tender Land…” and I agree with that. I also liked Crawdads but not so much I was gushing about it either.
This Tender Land is a story of a journey by a group of 4 kids in Minnesota during the summer of 1932. Odie and Albert are orphaned white brothers who were sent to a boarding school for Indian children. They befriended Mose, a Sioux Indian, during their years there. It was a tough life and after a series of bad events, the three boys escape and take along a young girl, Emmy, who had recently been orphaned. They travel in a canoe by rivers trying to eventually get to St. Louis where they think they have an aunt. Their travels bring several dangerous encounters, but also several encounters with very nice people. Their travels also bring an introspective by each of them and by the end, they have all grown quite a bit.
I enjoyed the character development very much, but I thought the descriptions of everything went a little too far and it really was mostly depressing. Still, it was a moving story of a family that may not fit the traditional definition and I’m very glad I read it.