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4.4 5
by Valerie Hobbs

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A hopeful — and tender — look at family and growing up.

When Liv was born, her mother died. Her father, Mark Trager, handed her over to her grandmother "like a bundle of laundry." Now her beloved Gran has died and Mark is the only family Liv has. All she knows is that he lives in California and dives for abalone. She has to leave New York to


A hopeful — and tender — look at family and growing up.

When Liv was born, her mother died. Her father, Mark Trager, handed her over to her grandmother "like a bundle of laundry." Now her beloved Gran has died and Mark is the only family Liv has. All she knows is that he lives in California and dives for abalone. She has to leave New York to live with him, but that doesn't mean she has to forgive him for abandoning her. Samantha, his girlfriend, is an unexpected gift, someone Liv can really talk to, but even Sam can't bring father and daughter together. There's Brian Spinuchi, too. He's her father's tender, responsible for his lifeline as he dives, but not the type she could ever fall for. Or is he? When Spinuchi breaks his arm, Liv, a city girl, must become her father's tender. Once the two head out to sea, they find themselves confronting a reality that will change their relationship forever. Valerie Hobbs's latest novel is about overcoming the fears that isolate us.

Valerie Hobbs is the recipient of the 1999 PEN/Norma Klein Award and the author of Carolina Crow Girl and Charlie's Run. She lives in Santa Barbara, California.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this sensitive novel, Hobbs (Carolina Crow Girl) chronicles the insecurities of a New York teen whose life is turned upside-down after a family tragedy. At the start of the novel, 15-year-old Olivia Trager, whose mother died the day she was born, loses her beloved grandmother, the woman who raised her. With nowhere else to turn, Liv heads to California to be with her father, Mark, an abalone diver who has neither spoken nor written to his daughter since she was a baby. Luckily, his gregarious girlfriend, Sam, is more welcoming than her reticent father and his shabby apartment. Liv opens up to Sam, but remains distanced from her father until he literally puts his life in her hands by making her his "tender," the person responsible for watching his lifeline while he dives. Introducing a cast of complex, convincingly vulnerable characters and possessing a keen understanding of adolescent moods and concerns, the author creates a taut psychological drama. Liv, her father and Sam grow closer together as they weather several crises including a boat collision at sea and Sam's discovery that she has cancer. Those seeking a thought-provoking, emotionally stirring read will become intimately involved in Liv's quest to understand herself and the man who abandoned her at birth. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
When her grandmother dies, a devastated Olivia Trager must move from her home in Manhattan to a small California coastal town to live with her father, who abandoned her as a child. This coming-of-age novel chronicles fifteen-year-old Liv's inner world as she mourns the loss of her "gran" and adjusts to life with her father, an abalone diver. The move to California is softened by Sam, her father's girlfriend, who befriends Liv, regardless of the teenager's bristly personality and wild appearance. Liv struggles and fails to relate to her gruff and distant father until Brian Spinuchi, her father's "tender" who monitors the air supply during dives, breaks his arm. Liv fills in for the injured Spinuchi, and out at sea father and daughter "tend" to each other in ways neither one could have predicted. The first person narrative focuses primarily on Liv's psychological state, and the reader must wait until the last several chapters for the plot to gain momentum. Hobbs ends her novel on a cautiously optimistic note, and suggests that Liv, her father and Sam will work through any adversity that comes their way as a family. 2001, Farrar Straus & Giroux, $18.00. Ages 12 up. Reviewer:Elizabeth Marshall
Liv's mother died when she was born, and her loving grandmother in New York City has raised her. When Gran suddenly dies, however, 15-year-old Liv must move to tiny Carpinteria, California, to live with the father she has never known. He dives for abalone for a living, and his gruff ways and Liv's resentment of his earlier abandonment of her—as well as her punk ward-robe—make for a difficult adjustment. However, Liv gradually becomes friendly with kind and funny Samantha, her father's girlfriend, and with attractive teenaged Brian, her father's tender (the person who minds the diver's lifeline). When Brian breaks his arm, Liv takes over as her father's tender, and gradually they come to understand and appreciate each other. When their small fishing boat is rammed by an oil tanker in the fog and Liv is swept out to sea, and then finally rescued after a terrible ordeal, she realizes the depth of her father's love for her. This heartfelt tale of a girl and her father finally breaking through to each other, and of Liv's realistically rough adjustment to a new kind of life, is full of convincing details. We learn what it's like to be a tender and about the wonders of underwater life, and the interactions and dialogue between the characters ring true, too. A fine novel by the award-winning author of Carolina Crow Girl and Charlie's Run. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 256p. 00-49513., $18.00. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; KLIATT , July 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 4)
Olivia Trager's mother died giving birth to her. When Liv's grandmother dies, the fifteen-year-old leaves an indulgent, sophisticated New York home to live with her flinty, hardworking father, who normally communicates with sporadic support checks. Sam, her father's recovering alcoholic girlfriend, mediates this tumultuous father-daughter relationship, and when she faces cancer surgery, both parent and child again must confront loss. Hobbs sets her compelling story about two willful people on the Pacific Coast, where Liv works as a tender, watching the lifeline for her diver father. Liv's job is an appropriate metaphor for the emotional lifelines that allow the characters to work through guilt, disappointment, and new family expectations. Liv's street-smart boyfriend, the ocean's dangerous beauty, and an almost fatal boating accident effectively prove to Sam, Liv, and Liv's father that caring and communicating, not bloodlines or money, produce strong families. This coming-of-age novel is an edgier, more confrontational combination of desertion, adjustment, commitment, and death than Joan Bauer's heartwarming Hope Was Here (Penguin Putnam, 2000/VOYA February 2001). The author warns readers about the unpredictability of reactions to crises, the difficulty of forgiveness, the ongoing struggle to balance right and wrong, and the impossibility of changing the past. The characters' potentially self-destructive choices and tough language are more appropriate for high school readers and mature junior high school students. The conflicts will give counselors excellent discussion starters when used with a nonfiction source such as Hurwitz's Coping in a Blended Family (Rosen, 1997). VOYA CODES:5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Francis Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, 256p, $18. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Lucy Schall
Young adult readers will enjoy following Liv from New York to California as she moves from a life with grandmother to one with a father she has never known. Author Hobbs tells of Liv's "growth to awareness" story beginning with a description of "life with Gran." When Liv was born, her mother died and her father gave her to her grandmother. The readers meet Liv just as her grandmother dies. Suddenly, Liv realizes that her father, Mark Tapert, is the only family she now has, and she knows she must now go to California and live with him and his new girlfriend, Samantha. During the story, Liv and Samantha form a friendship, but her father remains very distant. And above all, Liv can't forgive him for abandoning her when her mother died. Then, one day, life comes full circle when she finds herself literally with her father's life in her hands. Hobbs creates a realistic memory for her readers as they watch Liv determine her father's fate. It is an engaging read for adolescents who are struggling with their own tenuous family relationships. Genre: Overcoming Fears. 2001, Frances Foster Books, 245 pp., $18.00. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Jeanne Gerlach; Arlington, Texas
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Fifteen-year-old Liv's life undergoes seismic upheaval when her grandmother, the strong, urbane woman who raised her, dies and leaves her to reconnect with her estranged father. Understandably bitter as well as grieving, the teen must leave New York City, her best friends, and her usual haunts and habits to meet the man who deserted her when his wife died in childbirth. The tiny coastal hamlet near Santa Barbara, CA, and her father, an abalone fisherman of extraordinarily few words and apparently fewer emotions, present Liv with so many psychological and physical challenges that looking back becomes a luxury. As she did in Carolina Crow Girl (2001) and Charlie's Run (2000, both Farrar), Hobbs gives readers a strong and personable protagonist caught in a complex series of events that offers contemporary echoes of folkloric themes. Here, Liv is a kind of banished princess, but it is her father who must be awakened from a 15-year-long disenchantment. As she struggles to come to terms with her new home, Liv befriends her father's girlfriend as well as a young man her own age who may or may not offer a romantic possibility in the future. The title, besides the obvious play on the characters' emotions, refers to the job she takes aboard her dad's boat. Hobbs's storytelling pace is quick without feeling rushed, drawing readers in immediately and inextricably. Each character becomes a person whom teens will understand, whether with sympathy or hesitation, and by book's end, Liv's future looks as though it will continue to be interesting.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A sad, but ultimately hopeful story about missed connections and the opportunity for second chances. Poor Liv: her mother died when she was born and her father flew the coop, leaving her in the custody of her maternal grandmother who dies when Liv is 15. A cosmopolitan New Yorker who was brought up to appreciate the finer things, Liv goes into culture shock when she's sent to live with her father, Mark, a socially primitive man who resides in a bleak one-bedroom apartment in a desolate California beach community. Mark's girlfriend, Sam, tells Liv that her dad is "not exactly an easy person to get to know," and she's not kidding. Things slowly begin to turn around when Mark, who makes his living as a diver harvesting abalone, hires his daughter to work as his tender-the person who keeps the diver safe by making sure the air compressor on the boat is up and running. Although he can barely manage a social conversation, Mark is a treasure trove of knowledge about all things relating to the sea, and their days together give father and daughter a chance to develop the beginnings of a tenuous relationship. A nascent romance, an illness, and an unexpected accident round out the tale and further illuminate the theme. The characters, while not precisely likable, have a genuineness, and the narrative is smooth and elegant. A leisurely paced, somewhat gloomy story, but one that is, in the end, rewarding. (Fiction. 12-15)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.14(w) x 7.84(h) x 0.68(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Valerie Hobbs is the award-winning author of many novels for young people. Her books, including, Tender have garnered starred reviews from prestigious publications such as Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.

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Tender 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Liv Trager was so strong, in dealing with her mother, and grandmother dying, and not wanting to live with her father at all, and uprooting her life across the country, and starting an entirly new one
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a reallly good book. I like Liv, and I can sorta relate to her. I haven't finished the book yet, but it's really good so far.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I totally love Liz and Spinuchi! This book was one of the greatest books I have read this year along with the books I have recommened below. I wouldn't put the book down for a minute. I got so lost in it that I couldn't hewar what my mother was yelling at me about. Tender is so great that I plan on reading it again after I finish reading Goblin Wood.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ahh. This book was absoulutly amazing. I love it with a passion. This book was very well written. I read this book thinking it was going to be boring, and stupid, like the Wanderer, which was boring. But, on the flip side. It goes kind of slow, but it's still good. Olivia is the type of character that you fall in love with. It's really a self discovery kind of book. She realizes she's just like somebody very close to her, but hates. This book brings out the best in Hobbs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book drove me crazy within the first few pages because it was written in second person, so I didn't continue reading it. It sounds like a good story though.