Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

Title:  Tender Morsels
Author:  Margo Lanagan
Release date:  October 14, 2008
Publisher:  Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages:  448
Genre:  Young adult fiction, Fantasy
Source:  Library

When Tender Morsels begins, we meet Liga Longfield, a teen girl who has suffered years of sexual abuse and rapes by her father, eventually resulting in a pregnancy and birth of a daughter, who she names Branza.  Shortly after the birth of Branza, Liga is gang raped by a group of boys from a neighboring town and nine months later, gives birth to another girl, Urdda.  After going through all these horrible things, Liga is transported to a magical heavenly place with her daughters for many years, where they live in peace and harmony together.  Eventually the three of them are pulled back into the natural world, and they must find a way to live there among the pain and difficulties that come with that reality.

Fifty pages into Tender Morsels, I was loving it.  I liked Liga SO much and my heart just broke for her, for all the pain she went through and for the way that she was treated by her own father.  I was even starting to think that this might end up being one of my favorite books of the year.

BUT.  I didn’t love the entire middle section of the novel.  I want to preface this by saying that I think I am not the best judge of the book, as there are few fantasy novels I’ve loved.  I try to like them, and I am a huge fan of some, but generally I am difficult to please when it comes to fantasy.  So, yeah, the fantasy world in Tender Morsels didn’t exactly win me over.  And the multiple points of view (constantly changing without rhyme or reason) sort of annoyed me.  And confused me.  Also, I missed hearing so much from Liga – she was the only character I really liked, so I wanted more from her.

The end of the book came together for me, and it redeemed itself to the point where I can safely say that I enjoyed the experience of reading it.  And I can see what’s so amazing about Lanagan’s writing, about the world she created here, and about how much she has to say about life and love and what it means to be human.  So, while Tender Morsels didn’t work perfectly for me, I can see the beauty in it and I would still recommend reading it for yourself.

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6 thoughts on “Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

  1. Interesting. I really liked the beginning and the middle, but the end sort of hit a wrong note for me. I agree she’s an amazing and original writer.

  2. Mercy. I knew there was some pretty serious sexual violence in this book, but I didn’t realize quite the extent of what happens to the heroine. Could I possibly skip the beginning? And start after the miserable parts are over? I have a hard time with sexual violence in books.

  3. I’m always surprised by the level of sexual maturity in YA fiction these days. I had no idea this novel was so harrowing! I too have difficulty reading about sexual violence.

  4. I felt the same way toward Liga that you did. I also feel the same way toward fantasy; needless to say, while I can enjoy it (Lord of The Rings, or Narnia for glaring examples) I don’t seek it out as a genre to indulge myself in. The part of this book that had me almost reeling were the themes of sodomy, bestiality and incest, not to mention rape, so that detracted a bit from the novel for me. Anyway, I enjoyed reading your thoughts and I’m going now to add your review to the list at the bottom of mine. I’m glad you visited today and left your thoughts.

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