Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens, can be characterized as a coming of age novel, a mystery and yes, even a romance novel. It has it all, and as for me I can totally understand why it was #1 on the NY times best seller list for so long. It really resonated with me and held my interest. Ms. Owens writing style is so descriptive and meaningful.
I read in a 2019 NY times book review that Delia Owens lived in a remote setting in Botswana and Zambia studying elephants and lions. Kya, the main character in Crawdads lives in the marshes of North Carolina in the 1950’s and 60’s. Her family abandons her and she grows up alone learning how to take care of herself. You can assume that the author brings some of her first-hand knowledge of survival to Kya’s character.
At times, I felt so sad for Kya. I personally hate being alone. Imagine growing up alone? The locals were so mean to her. She was different and no one seemed to care about her except her friend, Jumpin’and his wife Mabel. What about love they neighbor? What would you do if you knew there was a child who was alone in the world?
I love Kya. She is a survivalist. She is curious and smart and figures out how to live. I’m a city girl who grew up with indoor plants and pigeons. Because of Delia Owens’ writing style, I couldn’t help being interested in feathers, plants the creatures from the marsh. From the men in her life, Pa, Jodie, Tate and Chase, she learns good and evil. They all have a part in molding her into the woman she eventually becomes.
This is a must read and it offers a lot of discussion points if you use it for a book club. Here are some I suggest:
Discuss the concept of being left alone
Compare and contrast the men in her life
Discuss the use of poetry in the novel
How did the justice system treat her and was justice finally served?
Some of my friends felt the ending was weak. I agree somewhat but it still didn’t take away from the fact that this was a wonderful novel of endurance. #girlpower
Is it possible to ever really know someone? There is a distinct difference from knowing someone and knowing about someone. Our culture is celebrity obsessed and just because we follow let’s say, Taylor Swift on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t mean we have the right to say we “know” her. Even though her song lyrics are so powerful and meaningful she is not baring ALL. She has secrets! What about our soul mates? Can we say we truly know our partners for life? Can you really know your significant other? He or she had a life before they met you. Are you 100% sure you know everything? The Husband’s Secret really makes you think about this. My mom used to tell me you never really know someone until you’ve spent four seasons with him or her. I guess she was afraid I’d say the “L – word” before I was with someone for a solid year. Funny, now that my daughter is in the dating game I would want her to get to know a guy for a good 8 to 12 seasons before settling down. What’s the rush!!
But we all carry some secret…some people have more than others and are embarrassed to share certain things from their past. Celebrities have their demons too. Remember when Robin Williams died. I was in utter shock that he committed suicide. How could such a beloved funny man be depressed? I felt like I knew him, after all I had been a Mork fan from the very beginning. I have a good friend who recently confided in me that she had been addicted to drugs for years. She’s clean now and I am so proud of her. I recently shared with her that my own dad had suffered a terrible depression after he retired. We never lied to each other we just chose to not share with each other…. there’s a difference.
Celia in The Husband’s Secret had an ideal marriage until one day she opened up the letter that rocked her picture perfect world. But what is perfection and did she really know her husband, JP? To really know someone you have to take the time and want to make the effort to learn about their interests, their desires, their fears, and their ambitions. After the secret was exposed she started questioning certain odd behaviors in the past. Why did it take so long for her to wonder? Maybe she was complacent. My take on relationships today is that everything moves way too fast (I am not a prude, but take it slow!). Communication between partners is key to a successful relationship. People are not talking to each other anymore and if they are talking I don’t think a lot of people LISTEN. Complacency exists in a lot of relationships and that’s when the not listening and not seeing the little things start happening. You can’t have a meaningful conversation using text message and inevitably the message comes across wrong and “you got a lot of ‘xplainin’ to do!” I must digress…please don’t use text message to break up with someone – it is so un-classy!
“Falling in love was easy…anyone could fall. It was holding on that was tricky” ― Liane Moriarty, The Husband’s Secret
Another question to think about in this book is would you open a letter that says, “to be opened after I die” if the writer of the letter was still alive? Yes! I hate surprises and I haven’t the ability to wait for things! If I was in Celia’s shoes I would have opened the letter without hesitation…immediately! We are in a need to know ASAP world and social media has made it just so easy to be in the know at all times. I don’t think it was a betrayal on her part to open it up. After all, we not supposed to keep secrets from those we love and know! She obviously never really new him…never took the time to delve into his soul. Maybe she was too wrapped up in her business, her community work and the kids. In retrospect maybe it’s better to have less on our plates and spend more time with the people in our lives.
Another parental tip I received growing up, this time from my old man, the lawyer….”never put anything in writing”. JP wrote that letter/confession years earlier only to lose it and then forget about it. Well, once you write something you can never take it back. It’s so much harder to explain something to a loved one via the written word and if you truly love someone why aren’t you talking? I love to look into the eyes of someone. I know when someone is listening and when he or she is not… that old, “whatchasay”?
I hope some of you out in HAVE FUN WITH JANE land have read this book and want to share your thoughts. If you haven’t read this novel, it’s a must read! What are you all reading…. any good recommendations to share? Feel free to send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org