"An intimate novel in which two Dublin young people—poet and student Catherine and aspiring art photographer James—tumble into a friendship that, though its lines shift and blur, ultimately helps bring their identities into focus."
Tender charts the marshy territory of friendship, obsession and love, and offers no easy path. Catherine may lose her way with James, but her self‑deceit is never complete – she maintains a terrible awareness of what she is doing. McKeon’s immersive, unflinching yet humane portrait of Catherine makes Tender richly nuanced and utterly absorbing.
McKeon’s ability to capture the intricacies of this relationship is startling. She carefully portrays every nuance of their platonic but 'rich, layered affection' ... Tender is a much louder novel [than McKeon's debut], allowing us to be almost entirely privy to the unsayable ... McKeon paints a rich and painfully honest portrait, so bursting with life and intelligence that it reverberates in the mind long after the novel has come to a heartbreaking end.