A Sentimental Epic, This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger Exudes a Love of the Land with a Desire for Family and Freedom.

This Tender Land

My Review:

I loved this all engrossing, fast paced, beautifully written adventure.  William Kent Krueger has a sentimental and descriptive voice; he can really tell a great story!

”The tale I’m going to tell is of a summer long ago. Of killing and kidnapping and children pursued by demons of a thousand names. There will be courage in this story and cowardice. There will be love and betrayal. And, of course, there will be hope. In the end, isn’t that what every good story is about?”

William Kent Kruger, author of  Ordinary Grace, has come out with an epic about a family of sorts, during the 1930s on the riverbank in Minnesota. This Tender Land reminiscent of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer’s adventures, centers on brothers Odie and Albert.  They are orphaned white boys who have been taken in by The Lincoln Indian Trading School, a school for Native American children who have been separated from their parents.  Odie is younger, a wonderful storyteller often in trouble, and finds solace in playing the harmonica.  Albert is red headed, freckled, and is the responsible one.  From punishments and beatings to physically exhausting jobs and natural disasters, the boys have much to endure. When they decide to flee in search of freedom, they are joined by their best friend, Mose, a Sioux who doesn’t speak with his voice, and Emmy, the young daughter of a teacher who was killed during a tornado.  With just the clothes on their back, these four orphans venture down the river in a canoe to find a better life.

The kids meet farmers and healers and other colorful characters all whilst they avoid being recognized and returned to their school and the evil folks that run it.  From healing ceremonies to deadly snake encounters to glimpses of love, and evidence of hate, the journey is action packed. Emotional and exhilarating these four parentless children struggle to get along, be smart, and search for a new and better life.

“Something was happening to us. When we’d begun our journey, Albert was distrustful to a fault, more likely to be crowned the king of England than put his faith in a man we barely knew. Mose, the most easygoing kid I’d ever known, had turned his back on us. Me, I was desperately in love. We’d been on the rivers only a month and already we were in places I couldn’t have begun to imagine at the Lincoln Indian Trading School.”

A picturesque, fictional epic adventure, beautifully told with compassion and based on history, This Tender Land has compelling characters that grow and change, and a lush setting; it is a wonderful book for all.

Goodreads Summary


William Kent Krueger

About the Author:

Raised in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, William Kent Krueger briefly attended Stanford University—before being kicked out for radical activities. After that, he logged timber, worked construction, tried his hand at freelance journalism, and eventually ended up researching child development at the University of Minnesota. He currently makes his living as a full-time author. He’s been married for over 40 years to a marvelous woman who is an attorney. He makes his home in St. Paul, a city he dearly loves.

Krueger writes a mystery series set in the north woods of Minnesota. His protagonist is Cork O’Connor, the former sheriff of Tamarack County and a man of mixed heritage—part Irish and part Ojibwe. His work has received a number of awards, including the Minnesota Book Award, the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, and the Friends of American Writers Prize. His last five novels were all New York Times bestsellers.

“Ordinary Grace,” his stand-alone novel published in 2013, received the Edgar Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America in recognition for the best novel published in that year. “Windigo Island,” number fourteen in his Cork O’Connor series, was released in August 2014.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.