Thursday, October 3, 2019

Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

July 2019
Where The Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Genre: Fiction
Lori's Book Club Rating: 4 Thumbs Up

#1 New York Times Bestseller
A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick

"I can't even express how much I love this book! I didn't want this story to end!"--Reese Witherspoon

"Painfully beautiful."--The New York Times Book Review

"Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, 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." (From the book description on Amazon)

Lori's Book Review 
Our book club was divided on this one. Some loved it and some didn't (the "some who didn't" includes me). I realize I am in the minority here; a lot of people really love this book. It just wasn't a great read for me. It's not that I hated it...I didn't. It just left me feeling sad, and that's not the way I want to feel when I finish a book. 

This is the heartbreaking account of a girl who is abandoned by her mother at the age of six. She is left with an abusive father, neglected and starving. One by one her siblings depart and, eventually, her dad just fails to return home from a trip. By the age of ten she is left completely alone, raising herself in a shack in the marsh land of North Carolina, essentially removed from civilization. Somehow we are to believe that a child can feed and support herself and grow up to be a stunningly beautiful young woman whom the boys in town desire. I just didn't find that plausible. A child left alone will not learn about self-care and hygiene. She will not receive medical and dental care. She will be malnourished; she'll have rotten teeth, mangy, knotted hair and bad breath. In a nutshell, she would be a complete mess of a human being.

Additionally, it is highly unlikely such an uneducated person would be able to become a published author. I happen to know a few things about the publishing industry and it is HARD to get published. In order to receive a publishing contract, an author must come to the table with a huge platform; a following of at least 10,000 people. This is actually more important than the content of the book. Publishers know that in-house editors can fix a manuscript, but they cannot manufacture a following. A publisher wants to know an author can sell books without much marketing budget required from the publisher. The "following" reigns supreme.  

True, this story takes place between 1952 and 1969 and book publishing would have been different then. However, it is still completely implausible to me that an uneducated, wild child who raised herself in seclusion would become a published author. However, I can actually let that go for the sake of the story. I mean...I love time travel novels, so plausibility is not a requirement for me to enjoy a book. What I do require is a story that will leave me feeling content about the character's life experiences. If there is tragedy or abuse, I want to see some resolution. I want my main character to win in the end. I want the Hallmark moment. The more traumas my main character faces, the bigger the "comeuppance" I want to see for the perpetrators. The death of the villain isn't always the best revenge. And though there was some resolution in this book, I just didn't find it good enough. 

Quite honestly, this story broke my mommy heart - up one side and down the other. How on earth does an entire family leave a small child with an abusive dad and not think to take the girl with them? As a mom, there is no way on God's green earth I would remove myself from an abusive situation and not take my children with me...especially a six-year-old girl.  So, though I concede this novel was well written, I just cannot jump on the "what a great read" bandwagon. The "resolution" at the end was not good enough for me. I wanted a happier ending. Without giving the ending away, I didn't want to see that twist. I didn't like it one bit. 

All that said, the fact that the book made me feel so strongly, is a compliment to the author. A writer, who can make the reader FEEL for the characters, has done a fantastic job. So though the story did not resonate with me, the writing was outstanding; just not my cup of tea.

If you like a story that includes child abuse, suffering, abandonment and murder, all wrapped up in one big "who-done-it" mystery, you might like this book. Me...? Not-so-much!  However, since four of the six book club members loved this book, I am still giving it 4 thumbs up.

It's not all about ME, y ‘all. 

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