by Margo Lanagan
- Pages: 464
- ISBN: 0375843051
- Link: Goodreads
- Format: Paperback
- Published on: February 9th 2010 (first published October 14th 2008)
- Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Trigger Warning: Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan contains instances rape and incest. Furthermore, I don’t think it’s possible to discuss the book without mentioning those plot elements as part of the review.
Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels is a story of healing with fairy tale influences. Liga didn’t have a good childhood by any stretch of the imagination. By the time she was a teenager, she had been pregnant five times and had two daughters. All of her pregnancies were the result of sexual abuse: her father repeatedly raped her; after her father’s death she was gang raped by a group of boys from her town. To call these experiences horrible would be a gross understatement. Indeed, Liga got to a pretty low, desperate point. She managed to transport herself and her daughters to a safe, cushiony heaven like place where they could live free of fear from their previous existence. And they managed to live there until bears and people find ways of breaking through the barrier making it necessary for Liga and her daughters Branza and Urdda to face reality.
Tender Morsels can be a very polarizing book. One of the causes for contention is a scene towards the end of the book. I’ve seen some criticisms of Tender Morsels that say that the scene makes use of rape as an act of vengeance and that Lanagan doesn’t do enough to critique it. With these people I must respectfully disagree. Yes, rape was used as an act of vengeance. However, I didn’t feel like it was treated in a way that implied that Lanagan thought there was anything acceptable about what happened.
My biggest complaint about Tender Morsels was that I felt it introduced too many characters and points of views. I’m not necessarily opposed to books that have multiple viewpoints, if it’s done well. In the case of Tender Morsels, however, I felt that Lanagan introduced more characters than she knew what to do with. This made the book feel disjointed at times. Some characters were brought in and then disappeared into the background.
Really, though, Tender Morsels is the story of healing after some horrible events. Lanagan didn’t talk down to her readers and I appreciated that. I found myself asking questions that weren’t answered by the end of the book, but in this case, I think that was OK: there’s still so much out in the world that we don’t understand and I think that’s one of the things Lanagan was trying to say.