by Robert Cormier
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Tenderness by Robert Cormier

Eighteen-year-old Eric has just been released from juvenile detention for murdering his mother and stepfather. Now he’s looking for tenderness—tenderness he finds in caressing and killing beautiful girls.

Fifteen-year-old Lori has run away from home again. Emotionally naïve 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? Told from their alternating points of view, this harrowing thriller speeds to its fateful conclusion with an irresistible force, and a final twist that will not be easily forgotten.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385729871
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 03/19/2013
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 426,805
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

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 in seventh 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.

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

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.

Reading Group Guide

The discussion topics which follow, along with the author biography and interview, are meant to aid you in your exploration of Tenderness. We hope that they will increase your enjoyment of the book by providing insights into theme and character, clarifying points in the plot that you may have found ambiguous or confusing, and leading you to discuss and analyze the larger psychological, literary, and theological aspects of the novel. The questions are designed to appeal to a variety of reading levels and tastes.

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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.