Check It Out: This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

May 11, 2020

        This is Jennifer Havlik, with the Sioux City Public Library, and you’re listening to Check It Out. 

Today I’m recommending This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. This novel takes place during the Great Depression, and while it is a work of historical fiction, the author’s extensive research and vivid description creates authenticity in events and setting. 

This Tender Land is the story of Odie O’Banion, a twelve-year-old who, along with his older brother Albert, is sent to live at Lincoln School in Minnesota after becoming orphaned. Lincoln School, a boarding school primarily for Native American children, is largely overseen by staff that can be described as uninterested at best and as cold, cruel, and abusive at worst. When a glimmer of a happier summer is taken away in the blink of an eye, Odie, Albert, their mute friend Mose, and a little girl named Emmy decide to leave in a canoe and never look back. 

The four children embark on a journey down the river hoping to find what each desires the most: love, happiness, identity, and home.  Unfortunately, this will never be an easy journey. Threats of kidnapping, dangerous weather, displaced families, physical harm, and faith healers are just a few of the trials waiting on the banks of this personal odyssey.

With nods to Huck Finn and Homer’s The Odyssey, and descriptive similarities to Where the Crawdads SingThis Tender Land is a journey of epic proportions. This captivating story contains a well-paced plot, loads of action, gorgeous description, and a cast of characters that you’ll adore from beginning to end.  You’ll cheer their victories, mourn their setbacks, and you may even feel a stronger attachment to home along the way. 

You can find This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger on the Libby by Overdrive app. Access thousands of ebooks and audiobooks for free with your library card. 

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Avery Brothers.