Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: A Must Read Summer Debut

Where The Crawdads Sing  by Delia Owens
Published August 14, 2018 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons
384 Pages
Buy From Amazon

From the Publisher: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, aka the “Marsh Girl”

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My Overall ThoughtsWhere the Crawdads Sing is a book you’ve probably been seeing everywhere lately whether it’s been blowing up your Instagram feed, hitting some of the late summer must read lists and recently making People Magazine’s Best Book Of the Week pick! If you’ve wondered if it’s possibly as good as everyone is making it out to be I’m here to give my two cents worth and say yes it is, so run, don’t walk, to buy or borrow it now.

What Initially Drew Me In
I was intrigued by the fact that the storyline involved a possible murder, an isolated “marsh girl” and the two men who get wrapped up in her world. Could this also be a love story? (hint: yes!) Funny thing was, when I really got into the story which alternates between 1969 and the 1950s, I almost forgot about the murder mystery part as I was so invested in Kya’s story.

Atmospheric Writing
Owen’s writing created a feeling of actually being in the marsh which truly became its own character . I felt the suspense of wondering how this little girl, abandoned by her entire family, was going to survive on her own. The townspeople saw her as “white trash” and, not surprisingly, did little to help her. There was, however, bright spots amongst the cruelty, one of them being a local man named Jumpin who was my favorite character after Kya. Speaking of Kya, if you’re at all worried that she’s a “weird” character who doesn’t want to connect with others, don’t be as her desire for companionship and to be cared about by others came through so clearly.

“The lonely became larger than she could hold. She wished for someone’s voice, presence, touch, but wished more to protect her heart.”

And possibly my favorite passage in the book…

“Sometimes she heard night-sounds she didn’t know or jumped from lightning too close, but whenever she stumbled, it was the land who caught her. Until at last, at some unclaimed moment, the heart-pain seeped away like water into sand. Still there, but deep. Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.”

This is debut writing! Amazing!

A Flawless Second Half
I loved how Owens clearly combined her love of nature writing with her exploration of a little girl coming-of-age within the natural world. As for the mystery, I found it to be perfectly paced. The author hands us bits and pieces slowly, allowing this storyline to eventually merge with the past one and then really pick up speed. I found the last third of the book especially riveting as I couldn’t wait to find out if my theories were correct. They weren’t which I loved. As for the ending, I can honestly say I didn’t see one part coming and it left me a little stunned. 

You’ll be seeing this one on my top 10 reads of the year list, it’s just that good. I can’t wait for Delia Owen’s next book, I hope she writes fast! 

Thanks to G. P. Putnam’s Sons via Netgalley for my copy

 

 

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REVIEW: BLIND SIDE By Jennie Ensor

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Published July, 2016 

Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable?

London, five months before 7/7. Georgie is living a good life when one night of drinking with her best friend Julian leads to actions she will regret. 

When Georgie meets Nikolai, a former Russian soldier, in a pub while out alone, sparks fly. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her.

Then London is attacked…

Blind Side explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears.

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I mean this in the best possible way…this book wasn’t what I expected. I was even hesitant to read it initially because it’s touted as a psychological thriller and this past year psych thrillers haven’t been my favorite. I’ve actually been avoiding books that fall into that sub-genre but there was something about this one that intrigued me. I love that it’s set in London, one of my very favorite settings for crime fiction and I love that one of the main characters, Nikolai, was a Russian soldier who somehow ended up in London. With hints of love gone wrong and obsession, I felt I couldn’t pass this story up.

We initially meet Georgie and Julian, best friends for many years, who seem to live by the belief that men and women really CAN be just friends….or can they? When too much wine is mixed in with an underlying desire on one of their parts, one thing leads to another and when all is said and done Georgie is left, not only with a hangover, but massive regret. Initially, she believes they can still be friends despite knowing Julian’s true feelings but Julian has other plans in mind and little by little he becomes a man unhinged. What I really enjoyed was along with that storyline, Georgie continues to live her single and carefree life and she meets Nikolai at a pub one evening. He’s edgy, a musician, and very handsome…what more could she possibly ask for?  She is immediately drawn to this Russian, although he very much gives off a vibe of having secrets.

Who Nikolai really is and how he’s come to be in London makes for some very engaging storytelling as I was never really sure if he was on the up and up. He’s clearly hiding something and I couldn’t figure out if it involved his intentions toward Georgie or if he was personally dealing with too many inner demons as a result of fighting in the Russian army. Something was amiss and I was feeling tense about it! Couple this with the escalating troubling behavior by Julian and you’ve got an obsessive triangle that more than hints of drama, suspense, and danger.

Not only is there a compelling love/hate relationship going on but with the attacks on London as a backdrop, Ensor expertly explores terrorism and immigration, highlighting the inner workings of loyalty and betrayal. For these reasons, I would describe this book as part romantic suspense, part political thriller which is why I was so pleasantly surprised by it. I loved the variety of angles and the way the author brought all these threads together in the end. One criticism I do have, however, is that I don’t feel like I really knew Georgie and what made her tick. Being the main character and narrating the story I really wanted to feel more of a connection with her and I felt like she remained below the surface. For me, Nikolai was more fleshed out than her and I would’ve preferred it to be the other way around. Minor issue. Overall, this was a strong debut and I think if you’d like to try something different that’s also very timely, this might be a great choice for you.

Many thanks to Jennie Ensor for my copy