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Literature / Tenderness

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Eighteen-year-old Eric Poole has just been released from prison for killing his parents. Jake Proctor suspects (correctly) that he is a Serial Killer of young women and sets a trap to prevent him from hurting anybody else. When fifteen-year-old Lori sees Eric on TV, she becomes obsessed with him and fixates on kissing him, which is the only way to relieve her obsession. All three characters intersect in a cross-country journey.


A 1997 novel by Robert Cormier, it was also made into a 2009 movie starring Russell Crowe, Jon Foster, and Sophie Traub.

Tropes in the book

  • Accidental Truth: Eric pulls a Wounded Gazelle Gambit by claiming his father was physically abusive, which is why he killed him and his mother. However, it's revealed that Eric was sexually abused by his mother when he was growing up.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Lori's obsessions, such as the band singer she's obsessed with at the beginning, have bad boy images. And then there's Eric.
  • D-Cup Distress: Lori is very well-developed, and at the age of fifteen (and before), she is treated as a Lust Object and an Innocent Fanservice Girl by grown men, including her mothers' boyfriends.
  • Everybody Loves Blondes: Played with. None of Eric's victims are blonde, but he eventually falls in love with Lori, who is blonde.
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  • Expy: Eric bears very close resemblance to Ted Bundy: that he likes to kill women/girls by bludgeoning them, uses a cast to distract them, and is viewed as handsome and charming. He may also be inspired by Eric Menendez, who claimed that he killed his parents due to abuse, although Menendez did not ultimately inherit his parents' money and went to prison for life.
  • Has a Type: All of Eric's victims are, like his mother, dark-haired and tanned. His mother seems to have been Ambiguously Brown.
  • Monster Fangirl: Lori is obsessed with Eric, who she knows to be a Serial Killer.
  • Serial Killer Baiting: The essence of Jake Proctor's plan is to put Maria in Eric's way at juvenile detention and set up a meeting between them, where Eric will try to kill her. Lori actually realizes that Maria is bait for Eric and succeeds in warning him before he hurts her, so the plan is a bust.
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  • Three Lines, Some Waiting: Proctor is the third line that gets relegated for a while, until Lori and Eric's paths cross and the book is framed more closely as Two Lines, No Waiting.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit:
    • Eric broke his own arm to frame his crime as self-defence.
    • He is also prone to wearing a cast to look like he needs help to lure his victims away.