Josiah's Reviews > Tenderness

Tenderness by Robert Cormier
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's review
Dec 07, 2010

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Read from December 07 to 08, 2010

I've never finished a Robert Cormier book without experiencing a deeply reverberating sense of "Wow". The dark corners of the human heart that Robert Cormier explores with the breathtaking skill of a master artisan are enough to give chills to anyone. Revealing the potential horrors of a fiercely tortured soul has a way of affecting people that way.

Beneath and within the text of every page of Tenderness is the unmistakable pulse of real evil; sometimes clear, but mostly flowing just beneath the service like blood coursing through a vein. It's a story that digs into the darkest fears of every human being who ever lived, like the talons of a predator bird into a fearful animal, and it never, ever, ever lets go. If you think you've seen the dawn, then the darkness must be fast approaching...

The relationship between the two main characters in Tenderness, Eric Poole and Lori Cranston, is a thing of strange, unnatural, unexpected beauty, and Robert Cormier takes great effort to set up their first meeting for us in exactly the right way. What honest person can't understand the uncontrollable desires that rule Eric Poole, desires that have led him to become the worst of the worst, but still a person that we can closely relate to in spite of his terrible acts? As the book subtly infers at one point, Eric is like The Shadow, the degree of passion/evil that lurks in the hearts of all people, which even the collective unconscious tries to deny and forget about. On one level we feel the urge to vehemently condemn Eric, but deep down we know that part of him is also part of each one of us. What can we do about potential evil?

Lori is the one element withheld before the perfect storm can hit its climax, perhaps the one person on earth who, by an almost impossible mix of personality traits and quirks, can push the throbbing evil inside of Eric to its breaking point and without a single word force him to decide if there is something beyond the tenderness of the murders that he has committed, something that could supersede the other factors that have ruled his thinking for so long and make him do a U-turn just when his desires are at their peak.

Tenderness is a book that will creep you out, give you shivers and make you wonder about even the most ironclad personal assumptions that you have ever made. It hits you over the head like a club, stunning in the intricacy of its workings and the scope of its power. I would give it at least three stars.
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12/07/2010 page 171
03/08/2016 marked as: read
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