Tender by Belinda McKeon

Advance Reader Copy (ARC) via Netgalley included.

Tender by Belinda McKeon

Sometimes you come across a book that you know you will re-read numerous times and recommend to anyone who will listen. Tender by Belinda McKeon is one of those books. Not since I read The Hours by Michael Cunningham for the first time have I been so enamoured with a novel.

Set in 1990s Ireland, this is a novel about friendship, youth, love, obsession and sexuality.

Catherine Reilly, from Longford, is living in Dublin to attend college when she meets James Flynn. Their friendship quickly becomes one where they want to spend as much time with each other as possible. Catherine is the person James turns to when the time comes to tell his parents that he is gay.

There were moments throughout, when I found myself thinking about my own time in college and the people I met. I swear some of them make appearances in this book, the characters are that realistic.

At times this isn’t an easy read (storyline wise as opposed to writing style wise), it feels claustrophobic yet necessary. McKeon’s writing feels raw, honest and is littered with nuanced and powerful storytelling.

I loved Tender so much I’m planning on buying a psychical copy, just so I can feel the pages between my fingers the next time I read it.

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