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This Tender Land  By  cover art

This Tender Land

By: William Kent Krueger
Narrated by: Scott Brick
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Take a Listen

This Tender Land
"I am a storyteller. I live in a house in the shade of a sycamore tree on the banks of the Gilead River…"
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This Tender Land
"The tale I’m going to tell is of a summer long ago…"
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This Tender Land
"The first time I got thrown into what the Brickman’s called the quiet room…"
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This Tender Land
"You should be more like your brother…"
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This Tender Land
"My brother was 16 then. He had grown tall and lanky at Lincoln school…"
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This Tender Land
"Tornado! Someone shouted. Run! None of us moved…"
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  • This Tender Land
  • "I am a storyteller. I live in a house in the shade of a sycamore tree on the banks of the Gilead River…"
  • This Tender Land
  • "The tale I’m going to tell is of a summer long ago…"
  • This Tender Land
  • "The first time I got thrown into what the Brickman’s called the quiet room…"
  • This Tender Land
  • "You should be more like your brother…"
  • This Tender Land
  • "My brother was 16 then. He had grown tall and lanky at Lincoln school…"
  • This Tender Land
  • "Tornado! Someone shouted. Run! None of us moved…"

Publisher's Summary

The acclaimed author of Ordinary Grace crafts a powerful novel about an orphan's life-changing adventure traveling down America's great rivers during the Great Depression, seeking both a place to call home and a sense of purpose in a world sinking into despair. 

"Ask me, God's right here. In the dirt, the rain, the sky, the trees, the apples, the stars in the cottonwoods. In you and me, too. It's all connected, and it's all God. Sure this is hard work, but it's good work because it's a part of what connects us to this land. This beautiful, tender land." 

1932: Located on the banks of the Gilead River in Minnesota, Lincoln School is home to hundreds of Native American boys and girls who have been separated from their families. The only two white boys in the school are orphan brothers Odie and Albert, who, under the watchful eyes of the cruel superintendent Mrs. Brickman, are often in trouble for misdeeds both real and imagined. The two boys' best friend is Mose, a mute Native American who is also the strongest kid in school. And they find another ally in Cora Frost, a widowed teacher who is raising her little girl, Emmy, by herself. 

When tragedy strikes down Mrs. Frost, it's the catalyst for a series of events that will send Odie, Albert, and Mose to rescue Emmy and flee down the river in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi, leaving a dead body in their wake. Soon, they are wanted by the law, and they know that Mrs. Brickman will stop at nothing to track them down for dark reasons of her own. Over the course of this unforgettable summer, Odie, Albert, Mose, and Emmy carefully make their way through the small river towns and big cities filled with people who are by turns desperate and generous, cruel and kind. As they search for a place to belong, these four remarkable children will lose their innocence but gain the strength to survive in the face of terrible loss. 

With his signature "pitch-perfect, wonderfully evocative" (Dennis Lehane, New York Times best-selling author) prose, William Kent Krueger's This Tender Land shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.

©2019 William Kent Krueger (P)2019 Recorded Books

Editor's Pick

A well-crafted American odyssey
"William Kent Krueger is a writer with a passionate following—it was the many heartfelt listener reviews combined with the persistent endorsement of a respected colleague that finally got me to try him out (thanks, Pam!). This Tender Land is beautifully drawn historical fiction that manages to create both unforgettable, authentic characters and a distinct sense of time and place—I became totally invested in the lives of these four orphans in Depression-era Minnesota. Narrator Scott Brick makes it a perfect trifecta of character, setting, and standout performance. Krueger's writing is an example of great American storytelling that I am so happy to have finally experienced."—Tricia F., Audible Editor

What listeners say about This Tender Land

Average Customer Ratings
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"Didn't need the underlying social message"

I have listened to to most all of WKK's novels about the Boundary Waters and I have enjoyed them all partially due to the fact that in my youth I camped and canoed those waters 60+ years ago. I thought the storyline of This Tender Land was interesting , but as a 77 year old son of depression era parents from Dust Bowl Kansas, who suffered extreme poverty and other physical and mental hardships, I have intimate knowledge of the mindset and attitudes of that generation. The circumstance of these vagabond children did not, in my opinion, did not lend itself to concern over white privilege, guilt, or the slaughter of Native Americans decades before they were born. I also doubt that they had any special concern for the environment other than being repulsed by the smell of the sewage pollution of the waterways. My comments aren't meant to be critical but they are meant to fine tune the authenticity of that time in our history, goodness knows I was reminded almost daily for the first eighteen years of my life. Unfortunately those of that time are nearly all gone or their memories have faded leaving it to my generation to keep it real.

424 people found this helpful

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Wonderful book, but incomplete.

I loved the story, and Krueger's writing is, as always, gorgeous and wonderfully evocative. Unfortunately, the audiobook is missing the epilogue, which tells what happened to each of the four vagabonds.

268 people found this helpful

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Scott Brick

Please try a bit harder to match the narrator to the class/genres of the Writer's story. I don't know Mr. Brick. I do know he should not be reading stories by Mr. Krueger. His interpretations are much better applied to sappy romance or religious novels. I managed 50% of chapter 1. It made me nauseous.

193 people found this helpful

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WANDERING

Wm K Krueger is generally one of my favorite audio authors; I have spent many pleasant hours listening to his novels. Scott Brick is my least favorite narrators. Many seem to like him; I find Scott Brick's performance consistently overwrought. Generally I avoid any work he narrates but I tried because of the author of this [and Lee Child's recent book]. Both were endurance listens because as emotion rises, his voice drops off...the performance feels ...syrupy? Not for me.

145 people found this helpful

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Heart breaking.....for me!

I was introduced to the narration of Scott Brick in the Nelson DeMille/John Corey series. I have listened to all of them and became a Scott Brick ‘groupie’! Some times I will look for books he’s narrated and get them based solely on that. That faithful following sadly has now come to an end. I’m not sure what Mr Brick was trying to convey but the overly dramatic cadences and lilting tones were too much! I mean who talks like that??? There was one section in the story where Odie found all the makings for a very rudimentary fishing rod. Nothing really to get excited about but the way Mr Brick read the authors’ words you would have thought Odie was putting together a golden wishing wand. This sort of over-dramatization was throughout the whole story! Too much! Very hard to explain...it’s a personal preference and may not be an annoying listen for some! Highly recommend listening to the ‘sample’ provided. My bad but then.....who knew?

The story was OK...kept my interest somewhat so I finished it. Sad to say, I’m finished with Scott Brick as well :-(

118 people found this helpful

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1930s coming of age story

This Tender Land is the story of four “Vagabond children” (orphans) on a journey during the summer of 1932. They leave dire circumstances at a boarding school for Indian youths in Minnesota with the goal of finding a better home with their aunt in St. Louis. Along the way they face harrowing events but somehow manage to keep going. They meet interesting characters, learn life lessons, and learn to rely on their developing instincts. It’s a coming of age story that had me cheering Odie, Albert, Mose and Emmy as they searched for home. I appreciated the epilogue as well as the author’s note that rounds out the novel and answered questions I’d had while reading.

83 people found this helpful

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Wishing I had read rather than listened.....

Similar to “the book was better than the movie”, I am thinking I should have read rather than listened to This Tender Land.

I was disappointed in the narrator (a first for me) and consequently let it effect how I felt about the book. I loved every aspect of Ordinary Grace and listened to this newest book on the heels of finishing that one.

To be fair, this book picked up for me toward the end, but a little too late for me to save it.

I was appreciative of the sense of the 1930’s this book provided, but much of the dialogue seem forced and perhaps due to the narrator, overly dramatic and not sincere.

Am I put off from listening to the next William Kent Krueger? Never.

82 people found this helpful

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Current Literary Masterpiece

I imagine this book will become part of High School and College literary curriculum. So many great issues of the period explored through colorful characters.

52 people found this helpful

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A Masterpiece far exceeding my high expectations

Amazing book, It touched my heart. It grabbed onto me immediately and held me to the end. It surprised me throughout. Many tears and driveway moments. This will be in my personal Top Ten List of books .

52 people found this helpful

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Sappy silly contrived plot.

The plot is so contrived and has many ridiculous turns. Then there is the condescending tone of political correctness ...

35 people found this helpful

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  • Blue Maplethorpe
  • 10-11-19

Beautiful and engaging

I loved this book and the narrating of it. The narrator had a wonderful voice that truly captured the feeling of place and time. I don’t remember how I came across William Kent Krueger but I am thankful I did. He is up along side my favourite authors. He never disappoints.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Elaine Brien
  • 10-07-22

A classic

A touching story of friendships forged from shared hardships and pain, of bonds welded together that last a lifetime. A novel as uplifting as it is heartbreaking at times to read but a necessary read to experience. Highly recommended

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-20-22

Powerful and emotional novel.

Wow, words won’t be able to describe the magnificence of this novel. It brought me to tears and reminded me so much of the things that truly count. The narrator made it even that more spectacular.

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  • Christineb
  • 09-03-22

Beautifully written story

I have no idea why it took me so long to read this book Wow what a story so well written Narration was amazing Must read Ordinary Grace now I admired the fact these children where abused so badly yet it wasn't graphically uncomfortable The characters where amazing Definitely a classic

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  • Liv
  • 02-01-22

Eurghhhhh

Cloying, saccharine, obvious, over-sentimental. I hated hated hated it! Can’t understand the hype at all. Didn’t believe any of the characters at all. Sorry!

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  • Anchor
  • 08-01-21

oh no

loved it up until St Louise, then it was a different book. almost as if written by a different man. mystical elements from the begging appeared to be added later. this book could have been better without them

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  • Mrs Ingrid Cutting
  • 06-01-21

Captivated

The characters are so believable. I laughed and wept with them all. It is a book I will read again.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Shootthehaggis
  • 04-20-21

Worth every word

Fabulous storytelling; such a journey of faith, discovery and what it means to be family. Didn’t want it to end!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • maggie
  • 02-14-21

I koved this book

I loved this book and I particularly enjoyed the narrator...I had never read any of this authors books but I will make sure I do in future

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Craig Chad
  • 01-17-21

brilliant listen. vibrant, colourful story.

A beautiful description of a sad time in American history. with wonderful character who just want to be happy and protect Emmy.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-04-22

Such a compelling and fantastic read

Loved, loved, loved this audiobook! A beautiful mix of history, adventure, friendship, family, triumph and tribulations!
Each character was so unique and likeable, you felt so close to the story.
Highly recommended to all - one of the best books I have read!

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  • warren finlay
  • 04-30-22

Exceptional.

From start to finish, this gripped my imagination. I enjoyed every minute of the adventures of the four Vagabonds and shed the occasional tear at the sadness that they encountered.
A thoroughly enjoyable audiobook.

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  • jo Greene
  • 10-09-21

Ver powerful

Ver moving and compelling. Thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. Definitely recommended reading

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dave
  • 09-27-20

What a wonderful story

Like a Huckleberry finn on steroids. Fantastic story that you couldn't put down. Absolutely loved it..

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-09-20

I cried

A beautiful and captivating story. Odi and Albert, Mose and Emmy evoked grief and fondness