Book Review: This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

This Tender LandThis Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every so often, when sifting through sand, you find a precious gem. This book is one of them. This Tender Land is a timeless coming-of-age story that is highly literary. The story is told from a much older version of the protagonist and covers his struggles to reckon with theodicy. Odie, at age 12, endures more than most do their whole lives. How does he reconcile his own shortcomings with the failures of others? How does a good and just God allow human suffering and tragedy? This story doesn’t shy away from the difficult questions, and like Odie is a a storyteller, his story, like all ours, is how we relate to the world and to God.

I’ll let some of my favorite quotes share my feelings:

“In every good tale there is a seed of truth, and from that seed a lovely story grows. Some of what I’ve told you is true and some . . . well, let’s just call it the bloom on the rosebush. A woman who can heal the afflicted? A girl who looks into the future and wrestles with what she sees there? Yet are these things more difficult to accept than that all of existence came out of a single, random moment when cosmic gases exploded? Our eyes perceive so dimly, and our brains are so easily confused. Far better, I believe, to be like children and open ourselves to every beautiful possibility, for there is nothing our hearts can imagine that is not so.”

“THERE IS A river that runs through time and the universe, vast and inexplicable, a flow of spirit that is at the heart of all existence, and every molecule of our being is a part of it. And what is God but the whole of that river?”

“Perhaps the most important truth I’ve learned across the whole of my life is that it’s only when I yield to the river and embrace the journey that I find peace.”

“Life’s stranger and more beautiful than I ever thought possible.”

“WE BREATHE LOVE in and we breathe love out. It’s the essence of our existence, the very air of our souls.”

“If we were perfect, the light he shines on us would just bounce right off. But the wrinkles, they catch the light. And the cracks, that’s how the light gets inside us. When I pray, Odie, I never pray for perfection. I pray for forgiveness, because it’s the one prayer I know will always be answered.”

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