How special it is to find one of those rare and beautiful books that etches a place in your heart. This Tender Land is certainly one of those books for me. I have a feeling after it is published in September 2019, it will be on the best seller list for quite a while. Thank you to NetGalley and to Atria Books for my advanced reader copy. And thank you to the author, William Kent Krueger, for sharing your heart with this book.
The book starts with the narrator, Odie O’Bannion, looking back upon events from the great depression. He tells the reader to open themselves to every possibility, for there is nothing your heart can imagine that is not so. Then he promises a tale of killing, kidnapping, children pursued by demons (and a very persistent Black Witch), courage, cowardice, love, betrayal, and of course hope. And boy does he deliver a magical story!
It is an odyssey of four orphaned children who escape a horrible existence at an Indian School in Minnesota and try to travel via canoe to try to find an aunt in St. Louis, Missouri. The year is 1932. Odie, along with his brother (the only two white children at the Indian school) their best friend Mose, rescue a young girl, Emmy, and take off with some stolen cash and a gun. They know they will be chased by the law and accused of kidnapping Emmy. As they follow the twists and turns of the great rivers they paddle, the four learn more and more about themselves. There are many well wishers, who always say to them “God be with you”. There are also several evil people, who shake their belief system entirely.
Odie O’Bannon, who was only 12 years old, tries to understand God, who had taken away his last hope of happiness with a tornado that killed Emmy’s mother and his favorite teacher. He felt like at every corner of the journey the Tornado God had its ultimate purpose to deny the boy a happy ending. But as the journey continues, he realizes he can’t pin down God. The most important truth he learns is that when he yields to the river and embraces the journey that he finds peace. The other 3 children are also able to come to peace with their purpose, and to find a place they could call home.
On a scale of 1 to 5, I give this 10 stars. I really loved this book. It will be published on September 3, 2019. Be sure to add it to your “To Read List”!