This post contains affiliate links. I had never heard of the author William Kent Krueger until a reader mentioned I might like reading one of his books. She suggested This Tender Land, so I reserved it at the library. While this is not the type of book that normally draws me in, I did enjoy it.
About This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
Albert and Odie, 16 and 12, respectively, are two brothers who have spent four years in the Lincoln Indian Training School in Minnesota. Their mother died when they were younger, and then their father died four years ago. While Albert is bright and obedient, Odie is a bit rebellious and curious. The head of the school, Mrs. Brinkman, routinely sends Odie down to the “quiet room” where he’s locked in for a day, his only companion the resident rat. Odie regularly suffers physical abuse at the school.
Due to a terrible turn of events, Odie must go on the run. His brother Albert comes with him as does their friend, Mose (a Native American who had his tongue cut out when he was a young child and who can only communicate via the sign language Albert and Odie taught them), and Emmy, the orphan daughter of their favorite teacher.
The story is set during the Great Depression, so the children don’t raise too much suspicion as they try to make their way from Minnesota to St. Louis where they remember an aunt they only met once lived. Along the way, they run into all matter of people, including those who are full-hearted and eager to help them, as well as those who are out to hurt them or steal their money.
In the end, Odie finds what he’s looking for, though he has to take quite a journey to get to that point.
My Thoughts on the Book
I really have mixed thoughts on this book. On the plus side, I felt like I got to know all of the characters, and I really enjoyed learning more about the four children and their journey. I also learned a lot about the history of Minnesota, which I had no idea about before this book.
However, there was a weird sci-fi element to the story that I really didn’t find necessary; in fact, it detracted from the story a bit for me. And as much as I enjoyed the book, it felt a tad long for me. As much as I enjoyed the book, I kept wondering where it was going. Sometimes the read felt as long as the trip the children were taking.
I give This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger 4 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.