Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Ninja Reviews (sort-of). . .Tenderness by Robert Cormier

This morning I finished reading Robert Cormier's Tenderness. (Okay, technically I listened to it because I had the audio on in my car, but still. . .)

This is the second Cormier book I've read. A number of years ago, I read I Am The Cheese, which totally freaked me out. It caught me off guard and I've never thought of cheese the same way again (even though the book has nothing to do with cheese that you eat). I figured Tenderness might be crazy-in-a-good-way like the other book. Well, it was definitely crazy. But I still can't decide if it was a good crazy or a bad crazy.

Here's the story: 18-year-old Eric is being released from juvie after being locked up for 3 years for the murder of his mother and step-father, supposedly because they abused him. Police Lieutenant Proctor suspects Eric of also killing teenage girls, but there isn't a shred of proof. There is also Lori, who met Eric once years ago and has always remembered his kindness. But Lori, who is several years younger than Eric, has her own problems. She has a mother who loves her, but who is often absent and makes bad choices when it comes to men and drinking. Lori is beautiful and knows that she can use her beauty to get things.

Cormier creates some interesting and very real characters. I kept thinking that Eric and Lori could be any number of people in real life. I was struck with the thought that we really never know what goes on behind closed doors, in people's homes when no one else is around, in private moments between two people. What's even scarier is that there were no violent or gorey scenes, but Eric's mind was creepy enough without all that.

What bothered me about this book was the ending. Was I supposed to feel as awful and confused and terrible as I did? Was there supposed to be a happy resolution and I just didn't find it? Or was Cormier just messing with my mind, with the minds of all of us readers?

I would really, really, REALLY like for someone else to read this book and tell me what they thought. Maybe someone else out there will want to read it and let me know what they thought, because I can't be the only one to finish this book and wonder why I felt so terrible afterwards.

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