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A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


A Kirkus Best Book of the Year
An Electric Literature Best Book of the Year
A Lithub Best Book of the Year

A searing novel about longing, intimacy and obsession from the award-winning author of Solace.

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.

From Publishers Weekly

Dec 14, 2015 – At first glance, McKeon's second work of fiction (after Irish Book of the Year winner Solace) explores well-trod themes. Two college-aged youngsters in Dublin meet through mutual acquaintances, develop a friendship, and experience much elation and angst over the course of a year together in the late 1990s. But as the raw and claustrophobic story progresses, it becomes devastatingly clear that the path their relationship is taking is far from ordinary. For one, budding photographer James is gay and closeted, during a time when homosexuality isn't widely accepted in Ireland. His anguish and frustration at not being able to love freely is deftly handled by McKeon, who mostly relies on what isn't said to lend weight to his predicament. Instead, what propels the plot forward is the sheer force of Catherine's blind love for James. She wants all of him, first emotionally, and then physically a wrinkle that adds depth to the friends' tragic coupling and makes their breaking apart so easy to predict and so heartbreaking to read. Catherine's self-destructive obsession with James may verge on maddening for readers (though the author's choice to saddle her with an interest in Ted Hughes's Birthday Letters, written about Sylvia Plath and published in 1998, was a smart one). But the book's final chapters, detailing the older and wiser friends' bittersweet reunion in New York 14 years later, proves that time does heal the heart's deepest wounds or, as McKeon so aptly demonstrates, at least most of them.
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Feb 16, 2016
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Seller: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Print Length: 416 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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