Tender by Belinda McKeon | Rating: ★★★☆☆
As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.
Belinda McKeon is back with her latest release Tender. I have to say that overall the book wasn’t that astounding to me–it didn’t enthrall me like I’d hope it would and felt rather lackluster at times–but in its highs, it was an incredibly honest release and Belinda’s writing, in all its simplicity, is what made me continue on.
I’ll set the scene for you: 1990s, Dublin and a sense of new found freedom for one of our characters, Catherine. Catherine, in many ways, is not unlike a large sum of leading ladies throughout literature and film. She comes from a modest upbringing and sets the tone of inexperience on a high.
Catherine comes to Dublin, a far cry from the farm she’d grown up on, to study and is faced with many chances and realities by novels end. Let’s put it this way: I’ve read countless stories of countless characters like Catherine and her story isn’t all that unique.
This isn’t to say she’s a horrendous character but it does get a bit repetitive and tiring after our timeline progresses and I longed for something to spice things up further in terms of her growth and plots.
Enter James: the object of Catherine’s affections and desire, an aspiring artist and has that mysterious factor going on. Again, nothing very unique to the plot but the way that McKeon writes her tale and the characters we meet, is pleasing in a way that makes my rating go up a bit.
Needless to say, there’s a lot of growing and a lot of fire in relationships. There’s so many ups and downs in life and I think that Tender captures those elements quite well, if anything. We have typical scenarios once more in love, friendship, obsession and betrayal.
I though that it was quite fascinating seeing different things play out but generally it was all very predictable.
I’m definitely on the fence with this one. It’s not easy to connect fully with the characters and sometimes you want to wring their necks. But at the same time, I couldn’t bring myself to hate them and I loved how naturally Belinda portrays the steps into adulthood and first loves and all that.
Belinda writes in such an honest and charming way, she paints a clear picture of Dublin in the 90s that will leave you breathless. I know a lot of people will argue that her writing was mundane, but it really wasn’t and this should be acknowledged and appreciated first and foremost.
It’s a breeze to flip through. I really and truly enjoyed her writing, I just wanted something more from Tender and it sadly didn’t deliver for me.