Where the Crawdads Sing–by Delia Owens

a book review

Image by homecare119 from Pixabay

I just finished reading Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

All. The. Feels.

The naturalist within me sang circles and ran around excitedly, arms in the air and miniature binoculars on the ready — while reading this intensely poetic and nature-filled joy of a book.

To say that I could not put it down is an understatement. I was consumed by it. And it has been a very long time since a book has affected me this way.

Reminiscent of my reading of Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac in my college years, this book had all the nature I needed with a healthy dose of character development and plot. The story carried me on wings of curiosity while the characters unfolded, each to a different amusement.

I am from rural North Carolina and am quite familiar with our beautiful coastal marshlands, but this deep dive into the region was spectacular. Some of the descriptions reminded me more of regions further south, but as the story moved through these lush marshes — I didn’t care if the precise trees, grasses, or Spanish moss dripping from the trees was exactly right.

What Kinds of Wetlands are in NC? : North Carolina Wetlands
North Carolina has many kinds of natural systems ranging from ancient mountains to barrier island beaches. Riparian…www.ncwetlands.org

For once I didn’t find myself looking it up — to be sure the nature descriptions were right for the area. It infuriates me to read books that get the seasons and the botanical inclusions all wrong. This story carried me so well and the descriptions were so on point that I didn’t feel the need to investigate. It felt right. The author, being a nature scientist herself, had such a strong and authoritative, trustworthy voice throughout, that the reader is left to just enjoy the narrative.

Omniscient POV was also a great choice for this novel. The reader is able to have a birds-eye view into this sleepy town. 

And speaking of birds — as someone who thoroughly enjoyed my college ornithology classes and enjoyed the field work that happened to be on the coast of North Carolina — I wholeheartedly loved the birds in Where the Crawdads Sing. The birds were so involved in the story that they are almost a character in and of themselves.

I would say, as well that the marsh is its own character — as fully developed as the human characters in the story. All five senses as well as a deep sense of wonder are engaged throughout the story by the movements and moods of the marsh, so loved by the “Marsh Girl.”

This is a beautiful debut novel celebrating wildlife, natural experiences, and leading us through a moving coming-of-age story into a gripping murder mystery.

This book has it all. I was moved to laughter, to wonder, to fear, and to tears. If you read a book at all this year — let it be this one!

A billion stars!

Tilda’s Promise by Jean P. Moore

a book review

Image by Michelle Maria from Pixabay

Recently I read the novel Tilda’s Promise, by novelist and poet Jean P. Moore for our book club selection. Jean joined us to discuss her novel and I wrote about that here

Jean P. Moore, author of Tilda’s Promise, photo by Christina Ward

Review of Tilda’s Promise

Tilda Carr is afraid to go to sleep. Terrible things can happen in your sleep, like what happened to Harold. After forty years of marriage, Tilda finds herself alone and navigating her grief with as much grace as she is able. A funny thing happens when you are grieving — the world goes on. 

Tilda faces the challenge of growing in her grief. Grief is an unwelcome teacher that pushes and pulls at Tilda as she turns her focus outward. The neighbor’s wife leaves her husband unexpectedly and Tilda simply can’t just let this man and his teenage daughter suffer through this alone. Something must be done about this. 

Tilda’s granddaughter is also suffering greatly with the loss of her Grandfather, but something else is going on with Tilly. Tilda feels drawn to her pain, burdened with confusion. Tilda knows she must find a way to reach her, to understand her grief through eyes a generation away from her own. Can she really understand? Can she help Tilly through whatever is consuming her? Suddenly the granddaughter she’s known, who is named after her, no longer wants to be Tilly. How can Tilda bridge the grief between them?

Tilda’s Promise reaches into the places of us that want to judge, that want to run away, that want to crumple up and give up — and hands us Tilda, a tender woman who has suffered a great loss. She does not fold in on herself for long. Her attention belongs to the living, and in them, her life can gain traction.

The novel moves compassionately through the lives of Tilda and Tilly who are both suffering insurmountable grief. We are taken on the slow road of sorrow and through these two very different people, we learn lessons that only emotional pain and tragedy can teach us. As the storyline slowly unfolds, we experience renewal, empathy, and strength of character through Tilda, a woman who keeps her promises.

Pain teaches us to redefine ourselves.

I enjoyed the emotional depth of this novel. For a novel to be truly effective, the main character has to face challenges, grow, overcome, and share that experience with the reader. Tilda certainly does that and the reader finds it easy to be invested in her journey.

Other themes worthy of mention in this story involve Jewish customs, which are interwoven throughout the story. I find the inclusion of faith to varying degrees with the characters to add further depth and open up questions about how faith can absorb grief or catalyze growth through grief.

Issues of gender and sexuality are of great importance to the story as well, causing Tilda, as well as the reader, great introspection. Can love overcome confusion? 

I welcome you to read Tilda’s Promise and experience these characters through the eyes and heart of empathy. Jean P. Moore handles grief in such a tender way through these characters. Her novel is well-written and compassionate, asking tough questions, some of which must be answered to the readers’ interpretation.

More Information about Jean P. Moore, novelist and poet:

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Writer “Jean P. Moore is a fine storyteller. She writes about the push and pull between the generations, and about loss…www.jeanpmoore.com

A Brief Biography

Award-winning author, Jean P. Moore, is a novelist, poet, and non-fiction writer. Her novel, Water on the Moon, was published June 2014 and was the winner of the 2015 Independent Publishers Book Award for contemporary fiction. Her work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, and literary journals such as up street, SN Review, Adanna, The Timberline Review, Angels Flight Literary West, Distillery, Skirt, Slow Trains, Long Island Woman, the Hartford Courant, Greenwich Time, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Additionally, a memoir piece, “Finding Charles,” appears online in Persimmon Tree, Summer, 2011. Several anthologized poems can be read in Women’s Voices of the 21st Century, 2014. Her chapbook, Time’s Tyranny, Finishing Line Press, published in October 2017, was nominated for The Massachusetts Book Award, 2018.


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