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A searing novel about longing, intimacy, and obsession from the award-winning author of Solace.

When they meet in Dublin in the late nineties, Catherine and James become close as two friends can be. She is a sheltered college student, he an adventurous, charismatic young artist. In a city brimming with possibilities, he spurs her to take life on with gusto. But as Catherine opens herself to new experiences, James's life becomes a prison; as changed as the new Ireland may be, it is still not a place in which he feels able to truly be himself. Catherine, grateful to James and worried for him, desperately wants to help -- but as time moves on, and as life begins to take the friends in difference paths, she discovers that there is a perilously fine line between helping someone and hurting him further. When crisis hits, Catherine finds herself at the mercy of feelings she cannot control, leading her to jeopardize all she holds dear. 

By turns exhilarating and devastating, Tender is a dazzling exploration of human relationships, of the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we are taught to tell. It is the story of first love and lost innocence, of discovery and betrayal. A tense high-wire act with keen psychological insights, this daring novel confirms Belinda McKeon as a major voice in contemporary fiction, joining the ranks of the masterful Edna O'Brien and Anne Enright.

"A perceptive, unexpectedly moving novel about friendship and love and all the heart-stopping moments in between."
―Jenny Offill, bestselling author of Dept. of Speculation

"McKeon...captures something essential about friendship, vulnerability, love, and longing. As it explores the push-pull of this achingly intimate, increasingly obsessive relationship-the way James and Catherine attract and repel each other as if they were two strong magnets turned this way and that-the story throbs with the tension between them.... McKeon regards the characters in her keenly wrought love story-for all their flaws and fragility-with insight, sensitivity, and a compassion that proves contagious."―Kirkus

"McKeon relates an unpredictable series of events in heart-rending prose, expressing the full force of a young love's potential for disaster."―New Yorker

"Tender is written in a remarkable, fluid style that mirror's Catherine's changing emotional state as her desire to recapture the closeness she and James once shared consumes her daily life. A sensual and poetic triumph."

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