Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Title: Where the Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Genre: Adult Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Page Count: 379 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: August 14, 2018

Publisher’s Summary: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

My Thoughts: I haven’t read regular adult fiction (as opposed to YA or MG) probably since I was in high school—ironically—so I can’t say what really compelled me to download this book, other than the fact I kept seeing it everywhere, and I was in a brooding mood seeking a more serious read. Where the Crawdads Sing is the story of Kya, the “Marsh Girl” who lives alone in the marshes of North Carolina. The author’s expertise on birds and wildlife really shines through this well-written coming-of-age novel, wherein the marsh itself takes on a character of its own. We oscillate between time periods, from Kya’s childhood and coming-of-age, her lovers and losses, and a murder mystery the narrative is leading up to. The third act admittedly dropped me a little by unexpectedly turning into a court drama—I thought I was reading something like Sue Monk Kidd and then it turned into To Kill A Mockingbird—but I appreciate the versatility of the novel. That kept it from becoming one-note.

I really liked Kya and her story. And I’ll confess, the ending put a big, fat Cheshire cat-like smile on my face. I recommend this book to fans of lyrical adult contemporary fiction, environmentalism, and women’s fiction.

Book Review: Wish by Barbara O’Connor

Title: Wish
Author: Barbara O’Connor
Genre: MG Fiction
Page Count: 236 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: August 30, 2016

Publisher’s Summary: Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.

From award-winning author Barbara O’Connor comes a middle-grade novel about a girl who, with the help of a true-blue friend, a big-hearted aunt and uncle, and the dog of her dreams, unexpectedly learns the true meaning of family in the least likely of places.

My Thoughts: This book sold like hotcakes both years I volunteered at the book fair at my son’s elementary school. I decided to give it a read. I was pleasantly surprised by such a sweet story about a little girl struggling with her anger when she’s sent to live in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her aunt and uncle. Charlie’s father is in jail and her mother is sadly negligent. Thankfully, her aunt and uncle have hearts of gold and take her in as their own. At first, Charlie is prejudiced against the little mountain town and its “hillbilly kids” who probably “eat squirrel.” But, with the help of a scrawny puppy who’s a stray like her, Charlie learns to love her new home.

Throughout the story is the motif of wishes and every possible superstition surrounding them – blowing on dandelions, knocking on wood, etc. Of course, Charlie is constantly wishing for one outcome she wants…only to discover that maybe it’s the other outcome she needs. A heartwarming story for fans of books like Because of Winn-Dixie.