For fans of Before We Were Yours and Where the Crawdads Sing, a magnificent novel about four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression.
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.
BEHIND THE BOOK
In asking you to read This Tender Land, I am, in a way, offering you my heart.
My hope is that you’re familiar with my 2013 novel Ordinary Grace, which won the Edgar Award for Best Novel. The story was a profound departure from those I’ve written for my New York Times bestselling Cork O’Connor mystery series. The response to Ordinary Grace from readers and critics was immensely gratifying and led to a contract for a companion novel.
Here’s the problem. The expectations for that companion novel were huge, crushing even. I spent nearly three years laboring over a story in which I tried to satisfy all those expectations. Unfortunately, the completed manuscript fell far short of what I’d hoped. In the end, I asked Atria not to publish the work. I’m thankful that they were understanding and were willing to give me another shot.
For me, here’s the beauty of this experience. When all the expectations were lifted from my shoulders and I felt free again, I saw almost immediately the story I should have been writing, a completely different kind of story, one deeply personal. I’ve been at work on that manuscript for the past three years. This Tender Land is the result.
I love this book every bit as much as I loved Ordinary Grace.
It’s been such a joy to write the tale of Odie O’Banion and the other Vagabonds on their great river odyssey in the summer of 1932. I’m so very grateful to everyone who’s contacted me to say how much they’ve appreciated Ordinary Grace and how much they’re looking forward to this new book.
I’ve poured the best of myself into this story and I invite you to experience all of its remarkable twists and turns. As Odie says in the very beginning, “Open yourself to every possibility, for there is nothing your heart can imagine that is not so.”
William Kent Krueger