I’ve been so busy reading lately that I haven’t done much blogging. Thought I’d share a bit about my latest “good read,” a New York Times Bestseller, which I devoured (all 444 pages) in less than a week! It’s that good 😊
This Tender Land – by William Kent Krueger
Who is family? What makes a home safe and secure? Where do I belong?
These are the questions woven throughout Krueger’s epic tale about four orphaned children –two teenage brothers, Odie and Albert, a mute Indian boy named Mose, and little Emmy Frost, a child who suffers from epileptic seizures – who flee the tyrannical boarding school in Minnesota where they are held captive in search of the love-filled home of their dreams.
Set in the 1930s, the story reveals the stark realities of the times – starving families, abused orphans, and working children helping to support their families, as well as the devastation of tornadoes, floods, and droughts and the harsh attitudes and treatment of Native Americans. All add to the challenges the children face. Despite the dark overtones, though, the story is refreshingly hopeful and determinedly optimistic.
Reminiscent of The Adventures of Huck Finn and The Wizard of Oz, the children’s adventure begins in a canoe on the Gilead River but meanders through an array of landscapes, including the shanty towns of the Great Depression, rundown farms and abandoned orchards, Indian graveyards, tent revivals where faith and food are offered freely, the flood-prone Flats of St Paul, and the fading elegance of well-to-do neighborhoods in St. Louis. Each locale presents a mixture of danger, opportunities, and lively characters that both help and hinder the children’s search for a new home.
Told through the voice of twelve-year-old Odie, the story twists and turns on miscalculations and heartwarming decisions as well as magical and diabolical encounters. Each leaves its mark on the minds and hearts of these vulnerable vagabonds who ultimately discover the inner strength, wisdom, and resiliency they possess.
What I loved most about this story: I marveled at the multiple layers of this story and how each layer was skillfully woven into this heartwarming journey that suggests with intention and courage, we can create a better future. It was like watching a master chef take a pot of boiling water into which he added a cup of mystery, a heavy shake of danger, sprinkles of mysticism and spirituality, and generous tablespoons of surprise and wonder that when stirred, became a tasty, belly-warming brew of soup. (I kept turning the pages well into the night.)
Some of my favorite Quotes:
“I didn’t sleep much that night. It wasn’t just my usual insomnia. It was the world I knew breaking apart.” (Odie)
“I stared at those pages, which were a solid map of family, and I was envious. These people knew who they were, where they’d come from, and understood the larger fabric into which their lives had been woven. Me, I felt like I was dangling out there, a thread all alone.” (Odie)
“With every turn of the river, we were changing, becoming different people and for the first time I understood that the journey we were on wasn’t just about getting to St. Louis.” (Odie)
In my experience, railroad tracks and rivers are like brothers. They follow each other everywhere.” (Odie)
“We breathe love in and we breathe love out. It’s the essence of our existence, the very air of our souls.” (Odie)
“You’re a storyteller. You can create the world in any way your heart imagines.” (Sister Eve to Odie)