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4.3 70
by Robert Cormier

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EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLD ERIC HAS just been released from juvenile detention for murdering his mother and stepfather. Now he’s looking for some tenderness—tenderness he finds in caressing and killing beautiful girls. Fifteen-year-old Lori has run away from home again. Emotionally naive but sexually precocious, she is also looking for


EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLD ERIC HAS just been released from juvenile detention for murdering his mother and stepfather. Now he’s looking for some tenderness—tenderness he finds in caressing and killing beautiful girls. Fifteen-year-old Lori has run away from home again. Emotionally naive but sexually precocious, she is also looking for tenderness—tenderness she finds in Eric. Will Lori and Eric be each other’s salvation or destruction?

“Cormier is in top form in this chilling portrait of a serial murderer. . . . Gripping.”—School Library Journal, Starred

An ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults

Editorial Reviews

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."

"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

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.)
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.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.19(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.52(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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.

Meet the Author

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.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
January 17, 1925
Date of Death:
November 2, 2000
Place of Birth:
Leominster, Massachusetts
Place of Death:
Leominster, Massachusetts
Fitchburg State College

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Tenderness 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
beckymmoe More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is A++.It is great and i didnt expect it to be a sad ending!! READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Jade_Alanna More than 1 year ago
Different than a lot of other stories that I have read, but was very good. Lots of conflict and not the cheesy dramatic kind. A definite must read for anyone into mystery, murder, and romance all in one...
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Rissa90 More than 1 year ago
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.
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A_SILENT_FAIRYTALE More than 1 year ago
"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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.