Tender by Belinda McKeon; A Review

Tender“When they meet in Dublin in the late nineties, Catherine and James become close as two friends can be. She is a sheltered college student, he an adventurous, charismatic young artist. In a city brimming with possibilities, he spurs her to take life on with gusto. But as Catherine opens herself to new experiences, James’s life becomes a prison; as changed as the new Ireland may be, it is still not a place in which he feels able to truly be himself. Catherine, grateful to James and worried for him, desperately wants to help–but as time moves on, and as life begins to take the friends in difference directions, she discovers that there is a perilously fine line between helping someone and hurting him further. When crisis hits, Catherine finds herself at the mercy of feelings she cannot control, leading her to jeopardize all she holds dear.

By turns exhilarating and devastating, Tender is a dazzling exploration of human relationships, of the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we are taught to tell. It is the story of first love and lost innocence, of discovery and betrayal. A tense high-wire act with keen psychological insights, this daring novel confirms Belinda McKeon as a major voice in contemporary fiction, joining the ranks of the masterful Edna O’Brien and Anne Enright.”

I had way too many feels for this book. I was all over the place on the feeling scale from anger and annoyance to heart-break to sadness. This book has the ability to touch even the darkest part of your heart and tug ever so gently on your heart-strings. I haven’t read one of Belinda’s novels before but she paints a lovely picture of the struggles of adolescence, and finding your identity on the early stages of adulthood.  Belinda portrays the delicate balance between a caring friendship and a controlling relationship, and that we are all guilty of teetering over the line between the two.  What starts off with something so innocent and pure, can later become something obsessive and destructive. Watching Catherine and James’ relationship blossom, go through trials and later reach a pinnacle life changing moment was heart breaking to watch and experience from the outside. There were moments I desperately wanted to dive into the novel and shake one of them for the stupid things they were doing. I wanted to  become involved in their relationship, in an attempt to fix the mistakes they were bound to face. Catherine and James mirror the struggles of any relationship conflicted with identity crisis, controlling issues, and holding on to what we value the most. Belinda takes modern issues that we all deal with and places a vintage twist on it that can relay throughout time. Belinda’s writing is beautiful, serene collection of words that bring a life into two people who are desperate to make something of themselves.

                Tender was a delightful surprise to read. With modern issues within a 1980’s Ireland setting, Tender was unlike any book I have ever read. It was an elegant blend of the old and the new, with proof that the struggles of the generations before us are still present today. This was my first literary contemporary novel that took place in Ireland, and I was pleasantly surprised on this fantastic work by Belinda McKeon. The writing and the research was able to support the weight of such an important topic, and take on a life of its own. If you are looking for a great contemporary fictional work, then be sure to pick up Tender by Belinda McKeon. You may need a box of issues, and you may have a desire to throw the book across the room, but it will be well worth the read.

Buy on Amazon:Tender: A Novel

Happy Reading!

Disclaimer: I was sent Tender for free from Hachette Books for an honest review. This review is of my own work, and I did not copy or refer to any other reviewers/writers/bloggers for this post. All content provided on “A Comfy Chair” is for informational purposes only. I make no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. I will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. I will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

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