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Tenderness

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Robert Cormier (pronounced kor-MEER) lived all his life in Leominster, Massachusetts, a small town in the north-central part of the state, where he grew up as part of a close, warm community of French Canadian immigrants. His wife, Connie, also from Leominster, still lives in the house where they raised their three daughters and one son–all adults now. They never saw a reason to leave. “There are lots of untold stories right here on Main ...
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Tenderness

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Overview

Robert Cormier (pronounced kor-MEER) lived all his life in Leominster, Massachusetts, a small town in the north-central part of the state, where he grew up as part of a close, warm community of French Canadian immigrants. His wife, Connie, also from Leominster, still lives in the house where they raised their three daughters and one son–all adults now. They never saw a reason to leave. “There are lots of untold stories right here on Main Street,” Cormier once said.

A newspaper reporter and columnist for 30 years (working for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette and the Fitchburg Sentinel), Cormier was often inspired by news stories. What makes his works unique is his ability to make evil behavior understandable, though, of course, still evil. “I’m very much interested in intimidation,” he told an interviewer from School Library Journal. “And the way people manipulate other people. And the obvious abuse of authority.” All of these themes are evident in his young adult classic and best-known book, The Chocolate War. A 15-year-old fan of his said, “You always write from inside the person.”

Cormier traveled the world, from Australia (where he felt particularly thrilled by putting his hand in the Indian Ocean) and New Zealand to most of the countries in Europe, speaking at schools, colleges, and universities and to teacher and librarian associations. He visited nearly every state in the nation. While Cormier loved to travel, he said many times that he also loved returning to his home in Leominster.

Cormier was a practicing Catholic and attended parochial school, where inseventh grade, one of his teachers discovered his ability to write. But he said he had always wanted to be a writer: “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t trying to get something down on paper.” His first poems were published in the Leominster Daily Enterprise, and his first professional publication occurred while he was a freshman at Fitchburg State College. His professor, Florence Conlon, sent his short story, without his knowledge, to The Sign, a national Catholic magazine. The story, titled “The Little Things That Count,” sold for $75.

Cormier’s first work as a writer was at radio station WTAG in Worcester, MA, where he wrote scripts and commercials from 1946 to 1948. In 1948, he began his award-winning career as a newspaperman with the Worcester Telegram, first in its Leominster office and later in its Fitchburg office. He wrote a weekly human-interest column, “A Story from the Country,” for that newspaper.

In 1955, Cormier joined the staff of the Fitchburg Sentinel, which later became the Fitchburg-Leominster Sentinel and Enterprise, as the city hall and political reporter. He later served as wire and associate editor and wrote a popular twice-weekly column under the pseudonym John Fitch IV. The column received the national K.R. Thomason Award in 1974 as the best human-interest column written that year. That same year, he was honored by the New England Associated Press Association for having written the best news story under pressure of deadline. He left newspaper work in 1978 to devote all his time to writing.

Robert Cormier’s first novel, Now and at the Hour, was published in 1960. Inspired by his father’s death, the novel drew critical acclaim and was featured by Time magazine for five weeks on its “Recommended Reading” list. It was followed in 1963 by A Little Raw on Monday Mornings and in 1965 by Take Me Where the Good Times Are, also critically acclaimed. The author was hailed by the Newark Advocate as being “in the first rank of American Catholic novelists.”

In 1974, Cormier published The Chocolate War, the novel that is still a bestseller a quarter century after its publication. Instantly acclaimed, it was also the object of censorship attempts because of its uncompromising realism. In a front-page review in a special children’s issue of The New York Times Book Review, it was described as “masterfully structured and rich in theme,” and it went on to win countless awards and honors, was taught in schools and colleges throughout the world, and was translated into more than a dozen languages. I Am the Cheese followed in 1977 and After the First Death in 1979.

These three books established Cormier as a master of the young adult novel. In 1991, the Young Adult Services Division of the American Library Association presented him with the Margaret A. Edwards Award, citing the trio of books as “brilliantly crafted and troubling novels that have achieved the status of classics in young adult literature.”

In 1982, Cormier was honored by the National Council of Teachers of English and its Adolescent Literature Assembly (ALAN) for his “significant contribution to the field of adolescent literature” and for his “innovative creativity.”

8 Plus 1, an anthology of short stories that have appeared in such publications as the Saturday Evening Post, The Sign, and Redbook, was published in 1980. In later years, many of the stories in the collection, notably “The Moustache,” “President Cleveland, Where Are You?” and “Mine on Thursdays,” appeared in anthologies and school textbooks. The collection also received the World of Reading Readers’ Choice Award, sponsored by Silver Burdett & Ginn, especially notable because young readers voted for Cormier to receive the prize.

I Have Words to Spend, a collection of his newspaper and magazine columns, was published in 1991, assembled and edited by his wife, Connie.

Robert Cormier’s other novels include The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, 1983; Beyond the Chocolate War, 1985; Fade, 1988; Other Bells for Us to Ring, 1990; We All Fall Down, 1991; Tunes for Bears to Dance To, 1992; In the Middle of the Night, 1995; Tenderness, 1997; Heroes, 1998; and Frenchtown Summer, 1999. This novel won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction in April 2000. All his novels have won critical praise and honors.

In the Middle of the Night and Tenderness were short-listed for the Carnegie Medal in England, and Heroes received a “Highly Commended” citation for that same award, unique honors because the Carnegie is traditionally awarded to a British book.

Cormier's novels have frequently come under attack by censorship groups because they are uncompromising in their depictions of the problems young people face each day in a turbulent world. Teachers and librarians have been quick to point out that his novels are eminently teachable, valuable, and moral. His novels are taught in hundreds of schools and in adolescent literature courses in colleges and universities.

Though many of his books are described as written for young adults, in fact people of all ages read and enjoy Cormier’s work. His themes of the ordinariness of evil and what happens when good people stand by and do nothing are treated seriously, and he never provides the easy comfort of a happy ending. Cormier’s gripping stories explore some of the darker corners of the human psyche, but always with a moral focus and a probing intelligence that compel readers to examine their own feelings and ethical beliefs.

In an interview last year, Cormier was asked if he had accomplished what he set out to do at the beginning of his writing career. He answered with characteristic humility: “Oh, yes. My dream was to be known as a writer and to be able to produce at least one book that would be read by people. That dream came true with the publication of my first novel–and all the rest has been a sweet bonus. All I’ve ever wanted to do, really, was to write.” That writing has left the world a legacy of wonderful books, a body of work that will endure.

A psychological thriller told from the points of view of a teenage serial killer and the runaway girl who falls in love with him.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Rarely has Cormier's irony been darker than in this violent tale of obsession, which explores the psyches of a serial killer and the teenage runaway who cannot resist his charm. Lori Cranston hitchhikes to Massachusetts with the intention of trailing a rock star, but she is sidetracked in a diner when she sees the face of convicted murderer Eric Poole flash across the television screen, on the eve of his release from a juvenile facility. Remembering a chance encounter with Eric and how he treated her with "tenderness," Lori plans how they may reunite. Meanwhile Eric plots how to get away with murder No. 4. Readers will stay on the edge of their seats as the paths of the two youths converge and intertwine. The bond of trust built between the characters is overshadowed by an aura of inevitable doom; most will guess that Lori's days with Eric are numbered, but few will be prepared for the brutal paradoxes of their deadly parting. Disturbing evocations of sexual harassment, abuse and remorseless cruelty throughout the novel will have a more lasting, haunting effect than the author's somewhat watered-down message about the yearning to be loved.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Rarely has Cormier's irony been darker than in this violent tale of obsession, which explores the psyches of a serial killer and the teenage runaway who cannot resist his charm. Lori Cranston hitchhikes to Massachusetts with the intention of trailing a rock star, but she is sidetracked in a diner when she sees the face of convicted murderer Eric Poole flash across the television screen, on the eve of his release from a juvenile facility. Remembering a chance encounter with Eric and how he treated her with "tenderness," Lori plans how they may reunite. Meanwhile Eric plots how to get away with murder No. 4. Readers will stay on the edge of their seats as the paths of the two youths converge and intertwine. The bond of trust built between the characters is overshadowed by an aura of inevitable doom; most will guess that Lori's days with Eric are numbered, but few will be prepared for the brutal paradoxes of their deadly parting. Disturbing evocations of sexual harassment, abuse and remorseless cruelty throughout the novel will have a more lasting, haunting effect than the author's somewhat watered-down message about the yearning to be loved. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The path of a serial killer intertwines with that of a teenage runaway who cannot resist his charm. "Readers will stay on the edge of their seats," said PW. Ages 14-up. Oct.
The ALAN Review - Brian Barnes
Another psychopathic killer? Yes, what else should we expect from the craftful mind of Robert Cormier? In Tenderness, readers can expect a novel that numbs, terrifies, and angers - all at once. In this novel, Eric Poole is the enemy, and his malicious behavior reflects previous Cormier antagonists such as Archie Costello and Brother Leon. But don't let this characterization fool you! Cormier makes sure that this enemy exhibits a variety of likable features. The twist in the novel occurs when Lori Cranston, a fifteen-year-old girl, becomes fixated on Eric Poole and decides that she must meet him. Her determination is inspiring to readers, but her tenacity eventually leads her into a troublesome predicament. Her craving for tenderness is the only hope she has left, and her future depends on the erratic behavior of Eric Poole. Readers of Robert Cormier can expect another fantastic novel that explores the complexity of the human psyche. Cormier, once again, proves that the ending to a novel can always be a surprise.
VOYA - Florence M. Munat
The two main characters in this novel are Eric Poole, an eighteen-year-old psychopath who has just been released from a juvenile detention facility where he was sent after murdering his mother and stepfather; and Lori Cranston, a sexually active fifteen-year-old runaway who has developed a "fixation" on Eric. The only other character of note is a police lieutenant nearing retirement who is keeping a close watch on Eric, because he suspects Eric murdered two teenage girls before his incarceration. In fact, Eric has gone unpunished for murdering three girls, all of whom had long dark hair that reminded him of his sexually abusive mother. He believes Lori (who is blonde) may have witnessed one of these murders three years earlier. As he drives her through the back roads of New England in his van, he begins to plan Lori's murder. Cormier's vivid characterizations highlight this book in which action is secondary. While depicting Eric as an emotionally remote, monstrous murderer, and Lori as a girl who deceives her mother and trades sexual favors for money, Cormier performs literary magic by making us empathize with these two teenagers who live at society's far edges. He gets inside the heads of a precocious runaway and a psychopath-no easy feat-and reveals both Eric's and Lori's great need for love. The words "tender" and "tenderness" occur dozens of times as the story unfolds in alternating points of view (Eric's third-person and Lori's first-person). Both characters are desperately seeking tenderness, and in a way they end up providing it for one another. VOYA Codes: 5Q 5P S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
Gr 6 UpCormier is in top form in this chilling portrait of a serial murderer. Eric Poole has progressed from killing kittens, cats, and a canary to parents and unsuspecting young women. Now 18, he has paid for his mother and stepfather's murders with three years of juvenile detention and is ready to continue his "plan." Unfortunately, his looks and shallow charm are as pleasing on the outside as his character is ugly on the inside. The story unfolds through the eyes of two characters: Eric, and the luckless 15-year-old Lori, a runaway who met Eric once when she was 12 and is drawn to him like a moth to the flame. Even when she realizes his guilt, after he attempts to kill her, she can not desert him. The ugliness of the story contrasts with the beauty of the language. Perfectly titled with characteristic irony, a sense of "tenderness" pervades this gripping tale. Where other, lesser writers would have screamed the story in full-blown tabloid prose, Cormier is the model of decorum. No overt blood and gore are needed for this author to terrify his readers. Eric is not an antihero. Sympathy is not so much for the undeserving villain, but for the society that spawned and neutered him. A meaty horror study that's a fine substitute for the anemic, but popular "Fear Street" books.Marilyn Payne Phillips, University City Public Library, MO
Kirkus Reviews
A serial killer; an aging cop with a hunch; an impulsive 15-year-old runaway: Three familiar characters are spun by a master of suspense into another disturbing study in emotional dysfunction.

Convicted in the less punitive juvenile court—just as he had planned—for the murder of his mother and stepfather, Eric Poole has served his three years, and is slated for release on his 18th birthday. Outwardly guileless and extremely charming, he has convinced everyone that he was a victim of abuse (with self- inflicted scars as evidence) who struck back. Only Lt. Jake Proctor, who suspects Eric in the unsolved murder of two teenage girls, is skeptical. Enter Lori, a rootless girl with scars on her wrist, a woman's body, and the memory of a clean- cut boy who was nice to her years ago. Both she and Eric are searching for "tenderness"—which means, for her, safety and respect, and for him, the fierce inner response after he holds a life in his hands and then takes it. Cormier (In the Middle of the Night, 1995, etc.) draws the strings taut as Eric decides what to do with Lori, and Proctor watches and waits for a chance to get Eric back behind bars before he can kill again. In a devastatingly ironic climax, Lori helps Eric evade Proctor's trap, then dooms him by dying under suspicious but entirely accidental circumstances. Almost everyone here is a victim; one is a monster.

From the Publisher
*"Cormier is in top form in this cilling portrait...a sense of 'tenderness' pervades this gripping tale."
--School Library Journal, starred review

"Cormier's latest is a mesmerizing plunge into the mind of a psychopathic teen killer that is both deeply disturbing and utterly compelling."
--Booklist

"A serial killer; an aging cop with a hunch; an impulsive 15-year-old runaway: Three familiar characters are spun by a master of suspense into another disturbing study in emotional dysfunction."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Rarely has Cormier's irony been darker...readers will stay on the edge of their seats."
-- Publishers Weekly

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440220343
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 11/1/1998
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 229
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 960L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.23 (w) x 6.91 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Cormier
Robert Cormier has been called “the single most important writer in the whole history of young adult literature.” In 1991, he received the Margaret A. Edwards Award, honoring his lifetime contribution to writing for teens.

Biography

With The Chocolate War, an unsparing story of corruption and brutal vengeance at a Catholic boys’ school, Robert Cormier turned what had been the sunny world of young adult fiction upside down. The book launched Cormier on a highly successful and often controversial career, in which he tackled the darker issues of adolescence and American suburban life.

Like the anonymously authored Go Ask Alice in 1975, an at times harrowing story of drug abuse for young adult readers, the Chocolate War – and others of the author’s books -- ran into trouble with parent groups who found the writer’s subject matter inappropriate and his approach too explicit. (According to Herb Fostal’s Banned in the USA, The Chocolate War was fifth on a list of the most frequently banned books in American public libraries and schools in the 1990s.)

Reviewers, however, praised his writing. A journalist for much of his life, Cormier balanced his characters’ grim situations with a deft, vivid, lyrical style. Reviewing The Chocolate War, a critic for The New York Times Book Review described it as “masterfully structured and rich in theme; the action is well crafted, well timed, suspenseful; complex ideas develop and unfold with clarity.” When it came to themes, Cormier was unromantic and unflinching. In I Am the Cheese, Cormier evoked the uneasy and elusive world of a boy whose father has testified against organized criminals; in The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, the story pivots around terminally ill teenagers; in Tenderness Cormier introduced a serial killer and a sexually manipulative teenage girl. “Every topic is open, however shocking,” he told a reporter for The Guardian in November of 2000, in what would be one of his last interviews. “It’s the way the topics are handled that’s important.” In Cormier’s world there are no easy answers and few happy endings, but there is extraordinary insight into the world of adolescence: the cruelties, the isolation, and the often-bruising search for identity.

Despite his reputation as a disturber of the literary peace, Cormier was a small-town writer, who spent nearly his entire life working as a journalist for the Fitchburg Sentinel in Massachusetts; he published a memoir of his career in 1991 titled I Have Words to Spend: Reflections of a Small-Town Editor. In addition to four novels for adults, Cormier wrote one last novel for young adults, Frenchtown Summer, the story of a young teenager’s arrival in a new town told entirely in the boy’s poetry. He died on November 2, 2000.

Good To Know

Robert Cormier never lived more than three miles away from the house where he was born in Leominster, Massachusetts.

Cormier included his own phone number as that of one of the characters in I Am the Cheese, and wound up taking calls from thousands of teenagers.

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Fitch IV
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 17, 1925
    2. Place of Birth:
      Leominster, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Death:
      November 2, 2000
    2. Place of Death:
      Leominster, Massachusetts

Read an Excerpt

"You're a psychopath, Eric." The smoke came out of the lieutenant's mouth as if his words were stoked by an inner fire. "A monster."

Eric recoiled, as if the old cop had struck him in the face. Monster?

"Chances are you'll kill again. You know it and I know it."

Or was the old cop merely trying to taunt him? Trying to make him lose his cool? Don't let him do that. Monster was only a word, anyway. And those were the only weapons the lieutenant had: words.

"You're taking a lot for granted, Lieutenant," Eric said, the sound of his voice reassuring, establishing his control of the conversation once more. "You're making wild accusations. I wasn't even convicted by a jury. A judge heard my case. He didn't think I was a monster. He was very sympathetic. So were a lot of other people."

"Other people? Did you take a close look at them? Who they were, what they were? You killed your mother and father, Eric. In cold blood." Not sounding tired anymore.

Eric did not smile but his eyes gleamed. The lieutenant did not know about the others. Nobody knew about them.


From the Paperback edition.

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Reading Group Guide

1. The word "tenderness" has at least two kinds of meanings. Robert Cormier has suggested some of these in the two quotes which open the book: "To know the pain of too much tenderness" and "A part of the body that has been injured is often tender to the touch." How many meanings can you think of for the word "tenderness?" What things or actions could be said to be tender? Which of these imply the potential for pain?

2. Both Eric and Lori have a desperate need for tenderness, and both of them are driven by their need to acts beyond their control. How does the shape and degree of their need differ, in terms of giving or receiving tenderness? How does this difference affect the way they act out their needs? Does Cormier tell us about any circumstances in each of their past lives which might be the source of this need? Would any circumstances be enough to explain Eric's extreme pathology?

3. Cormier uses the first three chapters of the book to introduce us to Lori. What passages illustrate her naivete? Her innocent voluptuousness? Her goodhearted generosity? Her resourcefulness and independence? Her lack of conventional morality? What other good and bad qualities does Cormier see in her? In what way is her mother's "bad luck with men" a model for her? Later we learn that "Lori" is short for "Lorelei"--a name taken from the German legend of a Rhine maiden whose singing lured sailors to shipwreck on the rocks in the river. How is this an appropriate name for Lori? How is it not?

4. Lori's fixation on Throb is an example of our society's tendency to idolize celebrities, even when they are repulsive, like Throb, or evil, like Richard Ramirez, the Nightstalker. Whatcelebrities do you admire? Why? To what lengths would you be willing to go to meet that person or to get their autograph? What do you think people are really looking for when they are fascinated with a famous person?

5. One of the most chilling passages in the book occurs on p. 29 when Eric remarks that kittens have "fragile bones as if they'd snap and break if you pressed too hard, caressed too hard. Which he did, of course, impossible to resist." Eric assumes that anyone would find the impulse to crush kittens as irresistible as he does. Have you ever wanted to hurt a helpless creature or person? What kept you from doing it? Or if you did do it, how did you feel afterwards? What are the elements missing in Eric's personality that keep him from having these controls?

6. In the first part of this book, Eric is released from the juvenile detention facility, even though he has admitted to two killings and is suspected of two others, because he has become eighteen and is no longer a minor. Do you think he should have been released? Should he have been executed for his parents' murders? As Eric knows, many states are now changing the law to make it possible to try juveniles as adults for adult crimes. Do you think this is right? Should children as young as five or six be tried as adults? At what age should people be required to assume responsibility for their actions?

7. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of Frankenstein, once said, "No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks." Does Eric consider himself evil? What does he tell himself about the cat-killing that makes it seem to him not only all right, but a good thing? Why does he need to justify his actions like this? How does this delusion of innocence allow him to go on without guilt to the much worse evil of serial murder?

8. The tired old detective whose life has become focused on catching a certain criminal is a familiar character in fiction and film, beginning with Javert in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. Jake Proctor, obsessed with convicting Eric Poole for his murders, is a clear example of this literary type. Like Eric and Lori, he is driven by an overwhelming need. What has happened to Jake in the past that makes catching Eric so important to him? What would the meaning of this conviction be for him and what need would it satisfy? In what two ways is he ultimately disappointed?

9. When Eric discovers Lori in his van, his first impulse is to tell her to get out. What are some of the other places in the story where she could have escaped but didn't? What effect does this have on the reader? Why does Lori stay with Eric? Why does he want to keep her with him? How does this shift and change as their relationship develops?

10. As a boy, Robert Cormier looked forward to an afternoon at the movies every Saturday, and afterward he went home and told the plots to his mother. Much of his early imaginative life was rooted in those films, and traces of their characters and situations show up often in his novels. In Tenderness the jail scenes in particular are full of allusions to the gangster films of the 1930s: the mess hall riot, the secret bully, the Irish guard, etc. Can you find other characters and scenes in the book that remind you of old movies?

11. Robert Cormier's novels have often been called "cinematic" by critics, meaning that the action proceeds in short dramatic scenes by dialog rather than description. Do you think Tenderness would make a good movie? Describe the actors who would play the main parts and pick out five important scenes. Should the movie be X-rated or R-rated? What would make the difference between the two classifications? Which would make a more effective movie? Which would make a more popular movie? Which do you think would be closer to Cormier's intention?

12. This narrative is told from the point of view of three different people: Lori, Eric, and Jake. Lori's sections are told in first person, that is, in her own voice. The sections focusing on Eric and Jake are told in omniscient third person, that is, by an imaginary narrator who knows what they are thinking. Why does Cormier do this? Do you find this technique confusing or helpful in keeping track of the story? How would the story have been different if Eric spoke in first person?

13. Typically a novel is built around conflict, the suspense-creating tension that rises to a peak of excitement and is resolved at the climax of the story. In Tenderness there are not one, but three lines of conflict, with three different resolutions. What is the climactic scene for each of these conflicts and how do they resolve the tension: the question of whether Eric will kill Lori? Jake Proctor's stalking of Eric? The growing possibility of love between Eric and Lori?

14. How does the setting of the scene at the carnival contrast with what is going on with Eric and Lori? What kind of music would you put behind this scene? Why does Cormier have Lori ride the Ferris wheel, and not the carousel or the dodge-em cars? Lori urges Eric to go off with Maria, knowing what will happen. Why is her self-sacrifice for love both unselfish and self-serving? How is it admirable and horrifying at the same time? What is revealed about Maria from her expression and actions when the police arrive?

15. As Eric's humanity begins to break through under Lori's influence, a repressed memory of his mother surfaces: "He remembered dark nights, her long black hair enveloping him, her lips trailing across his flesh..." What does this reveal about his childhood? About his need to kill only dark-haired women? Does this new knowledge change your feelings about his murder of his mother?

16. Irony is defined as "an outcome opposite to what was, or might have been expected." There are multiple ironies in Lori's death by drowning and its outcome. Most obvious is that Eric wants desperately to save the life of the woman he has been planning to kill for most of the book. What other ironies can you think of--for Lori, for Eric, and for Jake?

17. At the end of the story, when Eric is in his cell awaiting execution, he cries for the first time in his life, remembering Lori's unconditional love. What do you feel toward him at this point? How have your feelings changed over the course of the book? How has Cormier built up our sympathy for this serial killer?

18. But in the last line Cormier says "the monster also cried." Jake has called Eric a monster many times, but Eric has always indignantly rejected the term. Why does he feel so strongly about this? In jail, he thinks "What did the old cop know about monsters?" What does this tell us about what Eric knows about monsters? Who, or what, is the monster that cries, and what does this imply about the darkness that is in Eric's psyche? How is this darkness transformed by the monster's tears?

19. In Robert Cormier's novels, the good that the author really endorses often appears only as a reverse image, the positive in the reader's mind in reaction to the negative on the page. For instance, Eric's "tender" killings are a hideous parody of love, but as negative examples what do they make us realize about the true qualities of tenderness and love? In the end, which do you think Cormier says is more powerful, Eric's boundless evil or Lori's selfless love?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 69 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 69 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2009

    Very Moving Book

    Have you ever read a story that you feel like you are that character, or you just want to cry because you feel so bad for what happended to them. If you have or have not yet, TENDERNESS by Robert Cormier is the perfect book for you. In this book you will find two teenagers trying to find love, warmth, and just someone to be there for them.
    Eric has been in juvenile detention for a awhile now. On his 18th birthday he is released and is made the center of the media's attention. Lori is a girl who knows how to use her body to get what she wants. She gets fixated on things, and Eric is one of them. She hitch-hicked to get to his house and hides in his van so she can sleep, not knowing he is planning to run away with it.
    That is where their journey begins. They travel around hiding from the cops, which are now looking for him. Thats when Lori really falls in love with Eric. Together they face the problems that decide if they will live or die. Can they get out together, or will they both face an even worse fate than that.*hint-hint* one of them does die, i cried.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2008

    Great Book

    This book is A++.It is great and i didnt expect it to be a sad ending!! READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Disturbing

    A disturbing look into the psyche of two emotionally stilted young people that is definitely NOT for every young reader out there. The relationships portrayed in this novel are not at all healthy, and readers should be mature enough to understand the difference between what the characters are thinking and feeling and what true, healthy, mature relationships are like. I would not be comfortable having my preteen and teenage children reading this without discussing it with them as they do so.

    That said, it is well written, and Cormier does do a good job getting into the minds and motivations of the two main characters: Lori, the fifteen-year-old runaway and Eric, the eighteen-year-old serial killer she becomes fixated on. The ending is surprising and does leave a reader pondering a question of ends and means.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Beautiful Story.

    "Tenderness" is an extraordinary book. It is emotionally gripping, and very insightful if you allow it to be. Many people on here comment on how slow it was in the beginning. I have to disagree. With all great stories, there are events that set the stage for the climax of the book in one way or another. Some are more subtle than others, and this book is exactly that. It may not be action-packed, but that is the beauty of it. It relies strictly on emotions that are not so easily expressed. It focuses on emotions that are only possible to understand/emote if you dig inside yourself deep enough. If you are looking for a conventional "action-packed thriller", you will not enjoy this book. But, I recommend it for anyone else.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2008

    simply outstanding.

    i know that everyone likes the same books that I do, but i thought that robert cormier, after i thought he couldn't get better anfter 'The Chocolate War' and its sequel, couldn't do better. Well, this just proves how wrong i was. i loved everything about the book, the way he described the mind of a serial killer, how eric and lori's relationship blossoms, and how eric may not be a monster after all. at first, i totally hated eric and thought that he should die. at the end, however, i felt so sad and terrible for eric. i really should have expected this type of ending from Robert Cormier, though. It was still simply amazing.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2007

    I am buying this book

    I think i will really enjoy this book i like these kind of books because i like books that keep me on the edge of my seat. This book looks like it will read pretty fast. I can not wait till i get it. i hope i can read it and it will keep my attemtion through out the whole story

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2007

    This book was amazing

    All I have to say is that the ending is so sad. No one will ever believe that he was trying to save the girl, and now he'll be in jail forever. But, as usual, Cormier has written a great, suspensful novel.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2006

    GREAT book TERRIBLE ending

    The book was GREAT however the ending was terrible! There is so much more that could be said about the wonderful characters. The book was a great mystry with just enough romance to rope me in. I honestly could not put it down!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2006

    Fab and Freaky

    This is a wonderful book. It is an excellant curl-up-under-the-covers-in-the-rain type book. My favorite part was when it described Eric's or 'the monster's' victims. You should read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2006

    A PRETTY GOOD BOOK TO READ

    This was a great book, but I was kind of disapointed with the ending, it was something I really didn't expect. Even though it was a great thrill and I didn't want to put the book down. The thing I liked best about the novel was it's wording, that was pretty impressive. though best word that I liked from all the wordds used in the novel was the word the old lieutenant addressed him as, but of course I wouldn't tell you because I don't want to ruin the fun of it. Though still it is a book worth reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Different.

    Wow, what a book! This book was pretty good, but just a little creepy and disturbing. You kinda get to see into a serial killer's mind. At times the book can be freaky. I was looking for more romance, and the ending killed it. Very sad ending, I wish it could have had a better ending! When I closed the book I was definitely bummed out.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Brianna point of view

    Wow i love this book when i first read it. I think that most kids should read this that are teen cause we all have these thought and think wat would happen if it was us. We don't know and by reading this book it tells us. I also think thios book is great for a teen group discussions. And I also learned that at one point i felt this way and i'm glad that i didn't turn dead.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 26, 2009

    It's okay..

    This book wasn't terrible. It was tolerable. Though you know what is going to happen in the end almost from the very beginning it still leave you with a sense of awe. The character show development that keeps the book interesting. If your into mild sexuality and crimes that aren't in full detail, then this book is perfect for you. This book was definitely written for the younger audience because it leaves you with a lack of description of crimes. I wish it had described what had happened a little more but it was enough for younger readers. Enough for a book report for a sophomore high school book report.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2007

    veryy good but confuseed . .

    i thought that this book was very well written and had a plot that was easy to follow. I thought so muchh more was going to happen so the end completley had me in shock. urghhh . Overall the charcters were described nicely and it didnt bore me at all.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2007

    A reviewer

    I loved this book! My teacher had me read it for school and it was a really interesting book to read. A girl named Lori becomes fixated on a semi-bad boy Eric and goes on a journey to find him. Told from both of their POV, this is a great book about understanding tenderness in all forms. I didnt love the ending as much as the rest of the book however. I found it to be really stupid and could have been written a better way. Other than that this book was really great to read!! =]

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2007

    wow

    it was incredible i know a lot of people in lori's position and this story had so much in it that u couldn't put it down. i read the last page feeling of sadness but still wanted it to go on. rip rc. gr8 book i totally recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2006

    Tenderness

    Robert Cormier is a great suspense writer. He keeps the audience captivated and wanting more through his use of cliff hangers. Cormier used chapters to change the focus from one character to the other. Every other chapter is about Lori, but it is in first person. Then he switched to Eric, which is written in the third person perspective. There were a few chapters dedicated to the third person narrator, Lieutenant Proctor. Once Lori and Eric met, the chapters held the perspectives of both Lori and Eric with only a break in the writing to signify change in character. Cormier used italics to show Eric¿s thoughts since his story were told in the third person. Cormier did an excellent job showing the process in Eric¿s mentality as a serial killer. Cormier did not need to write about blood and guts, yet he still installed fear in his readers.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2006

    Tenderness

    Robert Cormier is a great suspense writer. He kept the audience captivated and wanting more. At the end of every chapter, he left a cliff hanger, causing the reader to want to know what will happen next. Cormier used chapters to change the focus from one character to the other. Every other chapter is about Lori, but it is in first person. Then he switched to Eric, which is written in the third person perspective. There were a few chapters dedicated to the third person narrator, Lieutenant Proctor. Once Lori and Eric met, the chapters held the perspectives of both Lori and Eric with only a break in the writing to signify change in character. Cormier used italics to show Eric¿s thoughts since his story were told in the third person. Cormier did an excellent job showing the process in Eric¿s mentality as a serial killer. Cormier did not need to write about blood and guts, yet he still installed fear in his readers.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2006

    Wonderfully done

    Robert Cormier creates such a realistic element within this novel that it is almost creepy. The actions and ideas are all things that could happen in the real world, which creates for a better storyline. Lori is given such detail that you can feel the emotions that she is going through while on her trek away from home. A longing is created within her voice when she thinks about Eric without even knowing who he is. It is difficult to image the connection that Lori seems to have with Eric, but Cormier expresses this to the reader very clearly. Cormier is able to bring the reader directly into the novel, so that when the twist hits at the end it is difficult to see it coming. The twist creates another aspect to his writing that shows the ability to have the reader think that they have reached a conclusion about the characters when in actuality there is only more to surface. The twist was wonderfully done but made me angry at the same time. There is a world created around such characters, and they almost seem to jump off of the page and become real living, breathing people. Cormier does a wonderful job at pulling the reader in and keeping them there until the very last paragraph.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2006

    LOVED IT!

    I love it it was so good.I could not put the book down.It has a good beginning middle and end.It was so sad at the end though something i was not expecting.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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