Andover • Anoka • Blaine • Centerville • Circle Pines • Columbia Heights • Coon Rapids • East Bethel • Fridley • Ham Lake • Lexington • Lino Lakes
Nowthen • Oak Grove • Ramsey • St. Francis • Spring Lake Park

 

 

THIS TENDER LAND

BY WILLIAM KENT KREUGER
REVIEWED BY 
LINDA WICKLUND

By way of introduction, this book is what I would call a labor of love for the author.  He spent almost three years writing the first manuscript and decided it did not meet his expectations. This Tender Land was to be a companion novel to Ordinary Grace which was published in 2013, and widely acclaimed by readers and critics.  In fact, it won the Edgar Award for the Best Novel that year. I too loved Ordinary Grace.  A beautifully written story.  (You can find a review of that book in the archives.)

Mr. Kreuger then made another attempt and he writes "I saw almost immediately the story I should have been writing."  He then spent another three years and writes, "I love this book every bit as I loved Ordinary Grace."

The story begins with an aged Odie O'Banion spinning tales to his great-grandchildren. He tells them to "Open yourself to every possibility, for there is nothing your heart can imagine that is not so."  It's a tale of "killing and kidnapping of courage and cowardice, love and betrayal and of course, there will be hope."

Odie and Albert (Odie's older brother) find themselves in the "quiet room" at the Lincoln Indian Training School in the summer of 1932. A place that had been used for solitary confinement when the facility had been a military outpost. Odie is only eight and Albert is twelve and they were being punished for daring to question Mrs. Brickman about the meaning of story she'd just read the children.

The brothers' father was dead less than a week at this point and their mother had passed away two years earlier.  They had no family in Minnesota so they were sent to live at the Indian Training school.  They were the only white boys in the school and learned quickly that Mrs. Brickman, the school's administrator, richly deserved her nickname the "Black Witch".  The children were beaten, half starved and required to work back breaking work on local farms to help fund the Brickman's lifestyle.

Four years pass and the old, "frightened Odie O'Banion like my mother and father, long dead" finds circumstances even more unbearable and the two brothers, their Native American friend Mose and a little orphan friend Emmy escape from the school in hopes of finding a forever home.

They start out in a canoe on the Gilead River in Minnesota, to the mighty Mississippi with their dream of reaching St. Louis where they have an Aunt. The orphans trip is one filled with a series of terrifying and sometimes heart-warming experiences.

From a drunken farmer who imprisons them to work on his farm, to bootleggers and then to Sister Eve and her healing crusade. They also meet some wonderful people who live in "Hooverville" a shanty village of families with almost nothing, but good hearts who share what little food they have.

I'll leave you to enjoy this beautifully written novel that you will long remember for it's beautiful prose and message of hope, the vagabonds never gave up on.  I hope you enjoy this wonderful epic by an outstanding Minnesota author who puts his heart and soul into this story.

Happy reading!

P.S. While this is a work of fiction, places like the Indian Training School actually existed. In Pipestone there was the Pipestone Indian Training School where Native American children were taken from their families to "re-educate" them.



CLICK HERE TO VEW THE ARCHIVE OF BOOK PICK REVIEWS

 

                                  

 


Home   |  Contact Us  |  SponsorsTerms of Service  |  Site Map