I liked this story of four young travelers trying to find family, belonging, meaning, and home along the Mississippi during the Depression. It was atmospheric enough to feel like historical fiction, even though very little history os mentioned.
It’s written like a storyteller’s epic yarn, interspersed with colorful characters, and it reminded me of The Lincoln Highway, as well as works by Dickens and Twain. You come to care about the characters, and the writing is downright masterful.
Here is what I thought was the most memorable quote:
The novel starts at a horrible “Indian Training School,” from which three boys, two white and one Sioux (whose tongue had been cut out), escape. In the process, they save a six year old orphan girl, taking her with them. They take to the river in a canoe, and are hunted for kidnaping the girl, which is the least of their problems. They coalesce into a tight knit group, looking out for each other; they face dangers, overcome difficulties, and all eventually, at long last, find their right place.
If you want to go on a long coming of age odyssey, This Tender Land is for you. I give it four stars– leaning toward five, but not quite there– mostly because there was an interesting discussion of miracles that I can’t endorse. However, that glitch did not disrupt my enjoyment of the story. This is excellent fiction that will make you grateful for the home you have.