Book Club: This Tender Land

It is hard to believe that it is the last Friday of October and that November will be here next week. It is just crazy to me.  The last Friday of the month means that it is Book Club day, which is one of my favorite days each month.  I love that doing this book club each month forces me to read because it is something that brings me so much joy.  I have loved reading my whole life, but I had gotten away from reading regularly because I let life get in the way.  This book club forces me to make time to get wrapped up in a story, and I love it.  This month we read a book fresh off the printer entitled This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger.  It came out last month and was an instant best seller, and I could see why after only a few chapters in.  I really enjoyed the journey that this story took me on.  Not only did it instantly take me back in time when the world was much different, but it also kept me enthralled in the story page after page. I was totally wrapped up in each character’s storyline.  It was really a great read, and I enjoyed it immensely. 

This story begins in the summer of 1932 when 4 unlikely friends set off on an adventure after escaping from the Lincoln Indian Training School in Minnesota. The Lincoln School was a place where Native American children who were taken from their families were sent to be educated. Mrs. Brickman and her husband ran the school.  They both seemed to despise children and gained pleasure from their suffering.  The students called Mrs. Brickman the Black Witch.  She would lock them in a quiet room, farm them out for hard manual labor in the community, barely feed them, and turned a blind eye to beatings and other inappropriate actions towards the children by an employee of the school.  Needless to say, these children suffered greatly at her hands.  Mose was a descendent of the Sioux tribe and came to the school at a young age after he was found next to his dead parents in a ditch.  His own tongue had been cut out in the attack, so he communicated through sign language. Odie and Albert O’Banion were brothers who ended up at the school after their father was killed during a bootlegging run. They were not of Native American descent but were told that they were sent to the Lincoln School because the state orphanage was full. The last of the 4 was sweet Emmy Frost, the daughter of 2 teachers at the school.  Her father had been killed in a farming accident a few years earlier and her mom had a sweet spot for the 3 boys and wanted to take them in as her own. After Mrs. Frost was killed in a tornado, Emmy was left to live with the horrible Brickmans. Those events lead the 4 to band together and escape from the Lincoln School and begin a long journey down the river to St. Louis in search of family.  The events that followed would change their lives forever.  

This is a story of heartbreak and struggle.  These 4 children faced things in their short life that no children should ever have to face. Murder, imprisonment, abuse, snakebites, loss, and more plagued their journey. They also came across people who were a danger to them and people who showed them great love along the way. Their determination, resiliency, and love for each other helped them along their journey. While their journey to freedom only lasted a little over a month, it felt like it was years in the making.  Although they experienced and lost so much in those few short weeks, their bond only grew stronger as they became the family they all longed for. I really loved this story and highly recommend it.  It certainly did not disappoint.

My pick for November is a bit different than the last few I have chosen.  I am moving away from the historical fiction genre for this pick to give us a little variety.  I thought I would spice it up a little this time. This month I am choosing Redemption Road by John Hart.  This story is more of a mystery/thriller this time.  It is a New York Times Bestseller from the only author to ever win the Edgar Allan Poe Award back-to-back. Here is what Apple Books has to say about this novel.

Redemption Road took five years to write, and that investment shows. John Hart’s thriller is masterfully written and haunting.  At its center is suspended policewoman Elizabeth Black, who under investigation for the murder of two men who abducted and tortured a teenager Channing Shore. Liz is plagued by nightmares, not all of them related to Channing’s horrific ordeal. Hart has not only created a strong, vulnerable heroine to root for, he’s written a Southern gothic crime novel that’s flush with eeriness and themes of righteousness and redemption.” 

I hope you will come along and read with me.  

Anchored, 

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Book Club: The Orphan’s Tale

It is Book Club Friday today, and I am excited to share my review of this month’s book, The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff.  I really liked this book a lot.  It certainly held my attention, and I was very attached to the characters.  I actually finished it early in the month, which is unusual with my crazy schedule, but I couldn’t stop reading at night and stayed up way later than normal to keep reading.  It was a great historical fiction tale, which is probably my favorite genre.  The story takes place during World War II and revolved around 2 women who became an unlikely pair.  One was a young teen, Noa, who had become pregnant by a Nazi soldier and then was cast out by her parents as a result.  She was sent to a center where she delivered her a baby boy and was forced to give him up against her will.  She was living and working at a train station when she came across a train car full of Jewish infants, some of which had already frozen to death.  Reminding her of the baby she lost, she snatched one little boy and fled on foot in the snow to escape being discovered by Nazi soldiers. The second woman, Astrid, was the daughter of a Jewish family that ran a circus in Germany and around Europe for many years. She had left home and the circus life to marry a German Soldier.  When the war got worse, her husband was forced to cast her out for fear of his own life.  Her family was nowhere to be found and thought to have been killed, so she found refuge with a nearby German circus that used to be her family’s rival.  The head of that circus knew her and her family and gladly brought her in to give her safety as the circus’s lead aerialist.  It was understood that all circus performers were like family no matter what circus you came from. When Noa was discovered passed out in the snow with the baby near the circus by one of its top performers one night, they took her and the baby in.  While Astrid was forced to teach Noa how to be an aerialist in order to also provide them with refuge, their relationship, strained at first, eventually became one of survival and sacrifice.

As I said, I was very wrapped up in the characters and loved seeing how the two women’s relationship went from rivals to a tender, caring and protective relationship.  Their struggles for survival and strong urge to protect the baby and each other at all cost brought the two of them together in a way that neither of them ever dreamed was possible.  The horrors that the Jewish people faced as a result of the war was depicted in a way that made you feel deep emotions for the characters and what they faced during that time.  It truly gives you a glimpse of what life was like during that time period and what a family the circus performers are to each other.  The descriptive language allowed me to visualize what it was like under the big top of that circus as they all feared for their lives and tried to maintain their composure during each performance.  If you like historical fiction, you will really enjoy this book. It is filled with extreme sadness, heartbreak, and loss; but it is also filled with love and triumph.  I highly recommend The Orphan’s Tale as one you should read.

My pick for October is a new release by the best selling author, William Kent Krueger, entitled This Tender Land.  This book became an instant New York Times Best Seller just after its release earlier this month.  It is another historical fiction novel that will take us on the journey of 4 Native American children in Minnesota in summer of 1932 during the Great Depression. These 4 children became orphans when they were forcibly removed from their parents and were sent to be educated.  It is said that fans of Where the Crawdads Sing and Before We Were Yours will love this book. I really enjoyed both of those novels, so I am hoping this one will not disappoint. Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

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