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Tender Morsels Hardcover – October 14, 2008


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Product Details

  • Series: AWARDS: ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2009
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375848118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375848117
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,414,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In her extraordinary and often dark first novel, award-winning story writer Lanagan (Red Spikes) creates two worlds: the first a preindustrial village that might have sprung from a Brueghel canvas, a place of victims and victimizers; the second a personal heaven granted to Liga Longfield, who has survived her father's molestations and a gang rape but, with one baby and pregnant again, cannot risk any further pain. As she raises her two daughters, placid Branza and fiery Urdda, she discovers that her universe is permeable: a dwarf or littlee man, in Lanagan's characteristically knotted parlance, slips in and out of her world in search of treasure; and a good-hearted youth also enters, magically transformed into a bear in the process. A less kind man-bear follows, and then a teenage Urdda, avid for a richer life with the vivid people, figures out how to pass through the border, too. Writing in thick, clotted prose that holds the reader to a slow pace, Lanagan explores the savage and the gentlest sides of human nature, and how they coexist. With suggestions of bestiality and sodomy, the novel demands maturity—but the challenging text will attract only an ambitious audience anyway. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up—A traumatized teen mother magically escapes to her own personal heaven in this daring and deeply moving fantasy. The characters, setting, much of the action, and even the very words of the title are taken from the Grimm Brothers' "Snow-White and Rose-Red," a sweet story of contrasting sisters who live deep in the forest and whose innocent hearts are filled with compassion for a lonely bear and an endangered dwarf. In the novel, Liga's daughters—one born of incest, the other of gang rape—first flourish in Liga's safe world. But encounters with magical bears and the crusty dwarf challenge them to see a world beyond their mother's secure dreamscape. Eventually the younger one, Urdda, and subsequently her sister and Liga are drawn back into the real world in which cruelty, hurt, and prejudice abound. But it is also only there that they can experience the range of human emotion, develop deep relationships, and discover who they truly are. The opening chapters vividly portray the emotional experience of a boy's first sexual encounter, mind-numbing abuse by Liga's father, and a violent gang rape. It's heavy fare even for sophisticated readers, but the author hits all the right notes, giving voice to both the joys and terrors that sexual experience can bestow without saying more than readers need to know to be fully with the characters. While the story explores what it means to be human, it is at its heart an incisive exploration of the uses and limitations of dissociation as a coping mechanism. Beautifully written and surprising, this is a novel not to be missed.—Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

My connection was to the story and the heartache that developed throughout.
Bookgrobie
It certainly is not a novel for just anyone, and I definitely don't think it's appropriate for the younger side of the Young Adult age range.
Literary Obsession
I did not always love it though, sometimes I found it to be a little tiresome, even if I no longer found it strange.
Roxana W.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Miller on October 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Once upon a time, the skeleton of this story was called Snow-White and Rose-Red. Like all fairy tales, it left much unexplained. Too much. Well, Margo Lanagan took those bones and added muscle and guts, bracing the loose joints of the plot with her characters' emotions, motivations, and histories. That's the secret of successful retellings: fleshing out the gaps that relied almost entirely on the readers' willful ignorance or suspension of belief, yet still leaving room for the existence of magic. And Lanagan knows how to handle magic delicately enough to make it believable: Tender Morsels revolves around magical doings, but never degrades enchantment to the level of coincidence. The plot must bend to fit the whims of the magic, and never, ever the reverse. Yet the setting is so rich that it all feels impossibly real.

And the characters -- hoo, the characters. They are vivid, passionate, flawed, sometimes randy (but never gratuitous), and fiercely devoted to their hearts' desires. Desires tangled with magic, though, turn out to have more power than any one of them have bargained for.

It's been almost a week, and I am still basking and soaking in this story. It is deep, thick, and heavy, but not in the ways that makes reading tiresome. It isn't a book you finish and set aside -- you surface from it and wait for it to roll off you. (I know, I know -- I'm going all purple and gushy. Plus I've overshot my adjective quota without ever managing to work in "visceral." Crap.)

An about face: I am somewhat loathe to admit this is not a book for everyone. Not by a long shot. The switching points of view, the nature of the abuse Liga weathers, and the spattering of old world Britishy-Irishy dialect each have the potential to deter a number of readers.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By L. H. on May 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
First of all, I will say that I did not exactly *enjoy* reading this book which is one reason why I took away one star. It's a bit too heavy to *enjoy.* I also think that although this is technically a "young adult" book, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone under 16 years old - the themes seem like they would resonate most strongly with someone older (whether you should shelter your children from the evils of the world or just do your best to equip your children to handle them; being overlooked by the younger, more beautiful woman; and so on). I don't think younger readers should be prevented from reading it, I'm just not sure how interested they would be.

If you do give this book to someone on the younger side of "young adult" be prepared to discuss some of the issues that arise in it with them. As other reviewers have stated, there is incest, rape, forced abortions, contemplations of suicide, and borderline bestiality. The audience for this book is not the same as say, Ella Enchanted or Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast or The Goose Girl. If you want a fairy tale re-telling that is funny, or adventurous, or romantic, this story is NOT the right story for you.

So who is the audience for this book? I think that those who like the
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lawral Wornek on May 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
Brutal does not even begin to cover it. Liga's life with her father is a nightmare. It is clear that she is repeatedly raped by her father. It is not graphically described in the text, but is in the forefront of Liga's thoughts often and so often "discussed." The miscarriages he forces her to have through the use of teas and herbs, on the other hand, are described in graphic detail. The fact that Liga has no idea what is happening to her when she miscarries is, I think, part of why they are described in such detail. Even though she thinks about it often, her mind shies away from the acts her father performs on her. Her shame and self-preservation together keep the detail out of these account. As she slowly comes to realize that the rapes, teas, miscarriages, her monthly blood, and babies are all related, each of these acts in her past are revisited. And things don't even get better after Liga's father dies! Left alone in their cottage with only her infant daughter for company, Liga is gang-raped (again, not graphically described, but not exactly glossed over either) by a group of town boys. This is what finally makes her want to end her own, and her baby's, life.

That's the opening of the book. It's hard to read.

The first time I checked this book out of the library, I couldn't read the whole thing. Long before the gang-rape and attempted suicide, I returned the book. I didn't decide to check it out again until the Common Sense debacle with Barnes and Noble came out. Still, I didn't get around to actually checking it out until a few weeks ago. I was determined to get through the horrible parts so that I could see Liga in her heaven, and after reading all of that, I needed to see Liga in her heaven.
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