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450 pages, Hardcover
First published September 3, 2019
“Maybe it really is like it says in the Bible,” I offered. “God’s a shepherd and we’re his flock and he watches over us.”
For a long while, Albert didn’t say anything. I listened to that kid crying in the dark because he felt lost and alone and believed no one cared.
Finally Albert whispered, “Listen, Odie, what does a shepherd eat?”
I didn’t know where he was going with that, so I didn’t reply.
“His flock,” Albert told me. “One by one.”
“There’s my star,” she said, pointing toward the upper glimmer in the cup of the Big Dipper.
“Your star? You own it?”
“I claimed it. There are more stars in the sky than people on earth, so there are plenty to go around. I claimed that one because if you follow the line that connects it with the one below, you’ll find the North Star. It helps me know where I’m going. What star is yours?”
“The one below,” I said. “The one that connects and helps show the way.”
We risked a fire that night and sat together, talking quietly around the flames, as we had on many nights since we’d taken to the rivers. It began to feel to me as if what had been broken was coming together again, but I knew it would never be exactly the same. 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 Saint Louis.
"Of all that we're asked to give others in this life, the most difficult to offer may be forgiveness."
It all begins in HELL and some of what's told here is true.
"What happened in the summer of 1932 is most important to those who experienced it, and there are not many of us left."
Odie O'Banion's life actually began in Missouri Ozark country, but now orphaned in Minnesota, he and older brother Albert need a miracle to get out of Lincoln School, the only white boys in a school for Indian children.
Odie is a tough little ingenious fellow who plays a mean harmonica, tells a great story, and always....always seems to cause trouble resulting in yet another visit to the cell....better known as the quiet room. But don't let the name fool you, it's not so quiet when DiMarco shows up to do Thelma the black-hearted witches' bidding.
Whenever there seems to be a ray of hope for Odie and Albert to escape a horrendous work assignment or the wrath of the witch, disaster or tragedy shows its ugly face.
But one day after a fierce tornado....and another failed plan, Odie, Albert, friend Mose, a Sioux Indian and little gifted Emmy find themselves on the run and wanted by authorities....for much more than just escape from the horrors of the school.
Taking the canoe down the Gilead toward the Mississippi and their new destination is a dangerous journey wrought with many perils, so many they meet desperate and struggling to survive make life scary for the youngsters....and it's not just humans who are looming....there's Lucifer.
THIS TENDER LAND is a wonderful coming-of-age adventure, a story of hard times and hopefulness that carries a religious undertone with children that seem wise and capable beyond their years, but also make poor life-threatening decisions as they venture forward toward their dream of a better future.
As with Krueger's ORDINARY GRACE another winner for this reader!
***What a memorable novel to have as my 200th NetGalley read! Arc provided by Atria Books in exchange for an honest review***