Booktalk: Tenderness by Robert Cormier

What can I say about Robert Cormier that hasn’t been said already?  When I was a kid in the 1970’s, I remember reading his novels I Am the Cheese and After the First Death over and over again.  His books are still being read by new generations of teens, even as his books continue to be targets of censorship.  Tenderness is a dark book even for Cormier, which is really saying a lot, because most of his stories are on the darker side of realistic fiction.  I can definitely attest to Tenderness being a popular book by virtue of the fact that my copy of this book was stolen by an overly enthusiastic student one time while I was visiting a high school.  And if THAT isn’t a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is!

I was looking for information about Cormier online before writing this post, and I found this overview of his work from the Random House website.  It was informative for many reasons, not the least of which was that I learned that I’d been pronouncing his last name incorrectly all these years.  Apparently he pronounced it “kor-MEER” and not “kor-me-ay.”  Oops!  In any case, Cormier’s death in 2000 was definitely a blow to the world of young adult literature.  Luckily, his body of work lives on.


Lori Cranston has run away from home again, this time because of her mother’s new boyfriend, who can’t keep his hands to himself.  Lori’s gone back to her old home town, doing whatever she can to support herself and waiting for the next part of her life to begin.

Eric Poole started out small, with kittens, cats, even a canary.  By the time he was a teenager, he’d moved on to bigger things – a couple of girls, his mother, and his stepfather.  Eric Poole is a serial killer.  He was tried as a juvenile, and now that he is eighteen, he’s being released from prison.

Lori Cranston and Eric Poole have met once before, and they are about to meet again.  All each of them is looking for is a little tenderness, and they’ll see if they can find it – in each other.

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