Fiction Literature Audiobook Summary
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 Timesbestselling 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 en’thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.
Krueger has said his favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. He grew up reading Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James T. Farrell. Most influential among these was Hemingway. In an interview for Shots magazine, Krueger described his admiration for Hemingway’s prose:
“His prose is clean, his word choice perfect, his cadence precise and powerful. He wastes nothing. In Hemingway, what’s not said is often the whole point of a story. I like that idea, leaving the heart off the page so that the words, the prose itself, is the first thing to pierce you. Then the meaning comes.”
As a mystery genre writer, Krueger credits Tony Hillerman and James Lee Burke as his strongest influences.
Literary Fiction Reviews
“Long, sprawling, and utterly captivating, readers will eat up every delicious word of it.” —New York Journal of Books
“Absorbing and wonderfully-paced, this fictional narrative set against historical truths mesmerizes the reader with its evocations of compassion, courage, and self-discovery. . . THIS TENDER LAND is a gripping, poignant tale swathed in both mythical and mystical overtones.” —Bob Drury, New York Times bestselling author of The Heart of Everything That Is
“More than a simple journey; it is a deeply satisfying odyssey, a quest in search of self and home. Richly imagined and exceptionally well plotted and written, the novel is, most of all, a compelling, often haunting story that will captivate both adult and young adult readers.” —Booklist
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When Krueger decided to set the series in northern Minnesota, he realized that a large percentage of the population was of mixed ancestry. In college, he had wanted to become a cultural anthropologist; he became intrigued by researching the Ojibwe culture and weaving the information into his books. His books are set in and around Native American reservations. The main character, Cork O’Connor, is part Ojibwe and part Irish.
History was a study in futility. Because people never learned. Century after century, they committed the same atrocities against one another or against the earth, and the only thing that changed was the magnitude of the slaughter… Conscience was a devil that plagued the individual. Collectively, a people squashed it as easily as stepping on a daisy.
— William Kent Krueger, Purgatory Ridge