Review: Tender by Eve Ainsworth
Tender tells the story of two young carers, Marty and Daisy. The novel illuminates the similarities and differences between their lives: Marty, whose mum is on the verge of having a breakdown following the death of his father, and Daisy, whose brother Harry has muscular dystrophy and is certain to die before his time.
Attending the same young carers group, the two quickly become friends. But with so much to deal with will their relationship have the chance to develop into something more?
Tender is the only Eve Ainsworth novel that has blown me away. There isn’t a single aspect that can be faulted. It’s perfect.
I can’t think of another book that focuses on the lives of young carers, and that’s part of the reason that Tender is such a success. By featuring two contrasting experiences Ainsworth introduces the reader to two kinds of carers, showing that the definition is not always clear-cut and that people from all kinds of backgrounds can be carers. She makes it easier to understand exactly what caring entails, and because it’s underrepresented in YA fiction this is a necessity that educates the general population.
But that’s not the only reason that Tender is so remarkable. Marty and Daisy are both strong, three-dimensional characters, and they really do come alive on the page. The contrast between their two voices makes it impossible to get lost between their alternating chapters, and Daisy’s weak optimism contrasts sharply with Marty’s overly pessimistic point of view.
As well as that, the plot is simple yet utterly effective. It’s pretty obvious that Marty and Daisy are going to get closer as they attend more group meetings, but because of the respective crises in their lives it seems impossible that they’re going to be able to develop their relationship into anything more serious. However, the will-they-won’t-they nature of their relationship fades into the background in favour of the plots surrounding Marty’s mother and Daisy’s brother respectively. You find yourself almost caring about their stories more than the two narrators!
Tender is Eve Ainsworth’s best novel by far. If you’ve read any of her other novels and have been unimpressed, take a chance and give Tender a go: I promise you won’t regret it.
If you’re interested in learning more about Tender, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!
Did you read any of Eve Ainsworth’s novels for this month’s British Books Challenge?