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Friday, March 7, 2014

The Tender Land: A Family Love Story

Here I go with the memoirs again--this one is another goodie. Kathleen Finneran's The Tender Land: A Family Love Story stole my heart.

Kathleen's Irish American family is large--three older children, two younger, all happy, healthy, and tight-knit. They are living regular lives until the day one of the youngest, Sean, age 15, commits suicide after a public humiliation. The family reels and attempts to move forward with life, all the while suffering at the hands of a fate that is so unfair and outside of their realm of control. This is the story of an ordinary family forced to face extraordinary circumstances.

I had been in the library queue for this book for what seemed like forever, so of course I soaked up this narrative like it was the juiciest BBQ I could find in the rural South. Finneran has such a beautiful way with words; the way she tells her story makes her family seem relateable yet untouchable all at the same time. I envied the seamless closeness that happened with her younger siblings regardless of the large gap in age, and I admired the love and respect each sibling had for one another regardless of circumstances. The Finnerans are a family in which you just want to be.

You know what's coming; after all, it's the crux of the book. It doesn't make Sean's death hit any less hard. My heart broke for Kathleen and her family when they each received the news; I also became angry at Sean for not reaching out when just a simple request for help could have saved his life. I reeled at the pain of the Finneran family, and I wanted to fast-forward to a time when life would treat them all just a little bit better.

I found a home in that of the Finneran's through this book, and I spent some time with each of them getting to know them through Kathleen's eyes, ears, and words. I am thankful to know the family and for them baring their souls, as Sean deserves to be known in the hearts and minds of those who love him.

Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

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