Pinterest tracking pixel
If you are having difficulty navigating this website please contact us at accessibility@bookofthemonth.com or 1-833-959-2686.
Oops! The page didn’t load right. Please refresh and try again.
  • GIFTS
  • SWITCH TO BOOKCLUBS
  • Bookclubs IconBookclubs
Already a member? Sign in.
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
Historical fiction

This Tender Land

BOTY FINALIST
Each year thousands of members vote for our Book of the Year award—congrats to This Tender Land!

by William Kent Krueger

Quick take

A coming-of-age odyssey that'll leave you in awe of the rawness of the Great Depression and the American Midwest.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Emotional

    Emotional

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_HeavyRead

    Heavy read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Action

    Action-packed

Why I love it

Brianna Goodman
BOTM Editorial Team

Because I live in a city that’s more concrete than grass, I sometimes go weeks without spending time in nature—which means I fantasize about tossing my phone down a subway grate and setting off into the woods a lot. As this is neither practical (I have no outdoorsy skills) nor feasible (the woods are very far away), I like turning to the next best thing: books set in the great outdoors. Give me a character canoeing down a river, or a vivid description of changing fall leaves, and I am, shall we say, a happy camper.

It was with this in mind that I picked up This Tender Land, a nature-filled adventure story set in rural Minnesota. The book begins with Odie, a young boy with a good heart but a penchant for getting in trouble, who suffers alongside his brother Albert at a cruel boarding school. Odie spends his days doing school-enforced manual labor, playing his contraband harmonica—and landing in detention. When circumstances force Odie, Albert, and two fellow orphans to escape, their getaway takes them on a grand adventure, crossing paths with strangers and witnessing the effects of the Great Depression.

This book is everything I want in a fall read: warm, heartfelt, and chock-full of observations on the natural world. Odie and his compatriots remind me of the savvy, adventurous children that occupied books from my childhood—the kids from Bridge to Terabithia come to mind—rendered all the more believable by William Kent Krueger’s lyrical prose. If you too enjoy a story brought to life by its environment (looking at you, Where the Crawdads Sing fans!) then snuggle up under an autumn tree with a copy of This Tender Land.

Read less

Synopsis

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.

Read less

Preview

Get an early look from the first pages of This Tender Land.

Read a sample →

Member thoughts

All (14061)
All (14061)
Love (9956)
Like (3615)
Dislike (490)
14417 ratings
  • 69% Love
  • 25% Like
  • 3% Dislike
    Historical fiction
    • The People We Keep
    • Malibu Rising
    • The Personal Librarian
    • Magic Lessons
    • The Book of Longings
    • The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
    • The Nightingale
    • Daisy Jones & The Six
    • The Lincoln Highway
    • Peach Blossom Spring
    • Booth
    • Sisters in Arms
    • The Perishing
    • Portrait of a Scotsman
    • The Family
    • Things We Lost to the Water
    • The Postmistress of Paris
    • Still Life
    • Send for Me
    • The Magnolia Palace
    • China Room
    • Summer of '69
    • This Tender Land
    • All the Light We Cannot See
    • The Vanishing Half
    • Outlawed
    • The Four Winds
    • The Giver of Stars
    • The Library of Legends
    • The Fountains of Silence
    • The Night Tiger
    • Libertie
    • Pachinko
    • The Great Believers
    • The Clockmaker's Daughter
    • The Glittering Hour
    • The Summer Wives
    • A Gentleman in Moscow
    • The Great Alone
    • The Age of Light
    • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
    • The Paris Hours
    • The Golden Hour
    • The Heart's Invisible Furies
    • The Rules of Civility
    • The Wonder
    • Circling the Sun
    • The Moor's Account
    • The Air You Breathe
    • The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock
    • The Flight Portfolio