WILLIAM KENT KEUGER
REVIEWED BY LINDA WICKLUND
read Ordinary Grace a few years ago and thought
it was a beautifully written book. This book was
a stand alone book unlike Mr. Kreuger's well
known Cork O'Connor series which are excellent
too. Last year I had the chance to meet him at a
book signing and he mentioned he was working on
a new novel. A "companion" story to Ordinary
Grace. Since I couldn't remember the whole story
and wanted to read this new book - This Tender
Land, I did something I don't think I've ever
done before. I read Ordinary Grace again!
And now I have an
even greater appreciation of Mr. Kreuger's gift.
His descriptions of places and his character's
emotions as they deal with multiple tragedies
during the Summer of 1961, in the fictional town
of New Bremen, Mn. are truly amazing.
The story begins
with this first sentence, "All the dying that
summer began with the death of a child, a boy with
golden hair and thick glasses, killed on the
railroad tracks." This is the first of three
deaths 13 year old Frank Drum has to deal with
this Summer and the story is told from his
perspective looking back four decades.
Frank is somewhat
of a rebel who really has his doubts about God
which makes having a Methodist minister for a Dad
a little tricky. His Mom on the other hand is an
artistic musician who doesn't really enjoy being
married to a minister - he was "supposed" to be a
rich lawyer! Frank adores his older sister Ariel
who is 18 and planning to attend Juilliard. His
younger brother Jake is Frank's best friend who is
unfortunately afflicted with a stutter which
worsened when he was nervous or upset.
Summer days bring more tragedy to the small
usually quiet town and then sadly to Frank's
family and the way the author describes these
events with compassion and grace is exceptional.
This is so much more that a mystery, it describes
how a family and a small town can go from
innocence to learning to deal and grieve while
things seem to be falling apart all around them.
The Edgar Award
winning best novel of the year in 2014, was so
I'm sure you will
love this book as I did.