This Tender Land
Score: 4.5/5 Bookmarks
This Tender Land by William Kent Drueger is a moving tale of friendship, hope, overcoming hardship, and just a touch of mysticism. If The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Inland had a baby, it would be this book. Four orphans escape an orphanage in Minnesota where they are beaten and mistreated and set out on a hopeful, and life-changing journey along the rivers that connect to the Mississippi, on their way to St Louis.
The book takes place during the Great Depression and paints such a vivid picture of life in those times that you’ll swear you saw it with your own eyes. My Grandmother would have been the exact same age as our narrator Odie O’Banion in 1932 and reading this book prompted me to do more research about what life would have been like in rural America then.
This is a wonderful book, although heartbreaking at times, and I definitely recommend it. I listened to the audiobook on Libro.fm and it was narrated beautifully by Scott Brick. You can get the audiobook by clicking the button below or grab a physical copy here. Even when I wasn’t listening to it, I found myself fondly thinking about the characters and wondering what would happen next.
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 enthralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.