Tenderness by Robert CormierTenderness by Robert Cormier

Tenderness

byRobert Cormier

Paperback | September 14, 2004

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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 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
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.
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Title:TendernessFormat:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 8 × 5.19 × 0.49 inPublished:September 14, 2004Publisher:Random House Children's BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385731337

ISBN - 13:9780385731331

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17

Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Was not fantastic Frankly i feel we heard a bit to much about this young girl's history with older men. The ending left you satisfied but a bit disturbed. I found myself reading it just to finish it so that it would be done...not because I wanted to.
Date published: 2006-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it!!!! I loved tenderness. It was amazing. While i was reading it i felt like i was the people in the story. It's a great story. I think it's book for everyone to read. I didn't like the ending though. HOW COULD THEY DO THAT TO ERIC............i love Lori's last words love me Eric ....... I LOVE THIS BOOK....
Date published: 2006-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tenderness Tenderness was one of the best books by Robert Cormier that I've read. he was able to capture the feelings of a killer, and the feelings of a young gilr, both who are looking for the same thing. He wrties this bok with an amazing insight it seems on a terrible story. A story about murderers and death. Even though it has its dark side to the book, it was enjoyable all around, it captured all the things going through someones head when they *love* a guy. Just liek it captures how Eric feels when he knows what he must do. Either way.. if you've ever read any of Cormiers books, you will LOVE this one, and if you liek any Stephen King, or any murder thriller, read TENDERNESS. Its worth it.
Date published: 2005-12-14

Read from the Book

"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.

Bookclub Guide

US1. 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. What celebrities 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?

Editorial Reviews

*"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