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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.

"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

"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

"Everyone remembers the exquisite torments of first love - and you'll revisit them in McKeon's haunting story of naïve Catherine, brooding James and their college friends in 90's Dublin. These smart, likable people misunderstand, wound and obsess about one another. Their yearnings and screw-ups as they stumble toward adulthood make for a bewitching read."

"Belinda McKeon's second novel is an honest and, at times, painful account of what its like to be young and crazy in love." ―US Weekly

"[An] emotionally virtuosic second novel, which fizzes from the start with effervescent comic dialogue... breathtaking."―Boston Globe

"With the mastery of Anne Enright...McKeon delivers a tragic and heartfelt second novel. The subtle narrative pacing and deep descriptions of both Dublin and the characters and their distinctive habits believably convey the often heartbreaking initiations of young adulthood."―Library Journal

"[McKeon] fills these early pages with cascading phrases that flex with the enthusiasm of young love.... McKeon brings this story to a close with such tenderness and honesty.... Anybody can feel the real life pulsing through this novel about misaligned affections."―Ron Charles, Washington Post

"Tender is the best Irish novel I've read since The Spinning Heart, a work rich with wisdom, truth and beauty. There are no gimmicks, no deliberately eccentric characters and no wildly overblown prose masquerading as poetry. Reading it, the novelist that came to mind time and again was Anne Tyler, one of the greatest storytellers alive, whose characters arrive on the page like human beings, things happen to them, they react to these things, and then life continues. I can scarcely think of higher praise than to say that Belinda McKeon could be our Anne Tyler. There is simply not a false note anywhere in Tender."
―John Boyne, The Irish Times 


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