Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – #BookReview

Goodreads: Where the Crawdads Sing
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction

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. But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world–until the unthinkable happens.

Friends, I loved this book so much. I’m so glad that I finally read it because in my opinion, it is worth all the hype around it! I have to say though that I can understand those who said that they didn’t love it or DNF’d it. Even though I’m obviously not surprised that this book received so much praise because I really loved it, it’s not the typical “fast-paced” novel that normally receives so much love in the book sphere.

“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.”

Where the Crawdads Sing is a deeply atmospheric, coming-of-age love story/murder mystery set in the 50s-70s, in the marsh land along the North Carolina coast. Through Delia Owens’ writing, the richness of the marsh and its surroundings that teem with creatures big and small, in the water, on land and in the sky, fully come to life. The story is quite heavily descriptive and full of metaphoric prose about nature that it sometimes reads like a love letter to nature itself. As I mentioned above, I see why people would find it boring or just couldn’t get into it because the descriptive prose made it a slow read and often quite dense. When I started I also wasn’t sure whether I’d love it, but it honestly didn’t take too long for me to realize just how quickly I sped through the chapters and how much I was looking forward to picking it back up again when I had to put it down. Owen’s writing was so captivating and poetic.

The story follows Kya or “The Marsh Girl” as she’s known to the townspeople of Barkley Cove. Abandoned by her family at the age of 10, Kya is left to fend for herself in the small shack that was her family’s isolated marsh home. She relies on the marsh and the sea to provide her a means for survival, and spends as much time exploring the natural land and begins collecting feathers, shells, and other special artifacts. Over time, she meets a boy, who teaches her how to read and write, brings her biology books and poetry, explores the marsh with her, and shows her what it’s like to not be lonely, and to love. But when promises are broken, she closes off her heart and retreats to her isolation, although her desperation to be in another person’s company sends her straight into the arms of Barkley Cove’s darling, who is a notorious ladies’ man. Just as with the other disappointments in her life, things don’t turn out the way she’d hoped and years later, when this man is found dead, she finds herself the primary suspect in his murder trial.

“Please don’t talk to me about isolation. No one has to tell me how it changes a person. I have lived it. I am isolation,” Kya whispered with a slight edge.” 

This book was beautiful and heartbreaking. Kya’s solitude and her loneliness was such a raw and desperate emotion that was deeply woven into her storyline. Her character was so pure, sweet and smart, and completely misunderstood. I cried, I laughed, I loved and I rooted for Kya to survive. To read of her abandonment by everyone who was supposed to love her, because they thought she was too wild or untamed for civilized society, was so heartrending; I often wanted to reach through the pages and scoop little Kya up to give her the love she needed. But her character’s strength and resilience was awe-inspiring. That she was able to make a life for herself and to overcome so many barriers in her way to find success made me love her character even more. Although Kya didn’t have many interactions with people, most of the characters who came into her life, especially Tate, Jumpin’, Mabel, and even Jodie, stole my heart just as much as she did. Even though some of them made pretty awful decisions when they were younger, they gave and showed her the love, respect and appreciation she deserved. I was thrilled when they proved they were there to stay in her life no matter what.

While the ending had a bit of a twist, I wasn’t really surprised by it (not necessarily in a bad way). I think I always felt that I knew the truth of what happened and that’s why it wasn’t shocking. Also, I don’t know how else I would’ve liked for this book to end, so I was quite satisfied with it. I loved how the title was woven into the storyline several times and kept coming back, and how the cover is a perfect representation of the book. I honestly would recommend this to everyone because I loved it so much, but I do know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. That said, I can’t wait to read more from Delia Owens and I can’t believe this was her debut! It’s absolutely stunning. Definitely a strong contender for my top read this year!

Have you read Where the Crawdads Sing? Did it live up to the hype for you?
Let me know in the comments and let’s have a little chat 🙂

Friday Favorites: Books Set in High School

It’s time for another Friday Favorites hosted by Kibby @ Something of the Book! This weekly meme is where you get to share a list of all your favorites based on the list of prompts on Kibby’s page. Sounds fun, right? This week’s prompt is: favorite books set in high school. I don’t know whether to rigidly or loosely interpret this prompt because while I’ve read a lot of books about being a high school, I don’t think I’ve read that many where the story is set in high school? Am I overthinking? Probably. I choose to blame my high anxiety and stress levels from this week because y’all, it has been a freaking week and I’m so glad it’s over! 😭 Here are some of the ones I could think of:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I feel like this is pretty self explanatory! THUG has received so much hype and all the praise, and it 100% lives up to it. This was one of my top reads last year. It’s a hard hitting and emotional story that I think everyone needs to read at least once in their life!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. Who doesn’t love a good fluffy YA romance? I was skeptical AF when I picked this book up; sure, it sounded like a fun read but it also sounded like it’d be full of potentially bad corny/cheesy YA writing. I’m glad I didn’t listen to myself and actually picked it up because I was pleasantly surprised by it! Yes, it’s cheesy & super fluffy, but it’s the perfect feel good summer read, and I’m not sorry that I loved it!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Yo, this book. I think this is one of the only books I’ve ever reread (not because this is my favorite book of all time, I just don’t reread as much as I want to) but I think that it made me cry even harder the second time around, despite knowing exactly what happens!

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus. I didn’t put this book down until I finished it in the wee hours of the morning. This was a great YA thriller and I loved every second of the Breakfast Club/Gossip Girl/How To Get Away With Murder vibes! I’m not a newbie to thrillers but this one seriously had me wondering whodunit for a good 50-60% of the book, after which it really started to fall into place and while it was slightly outlandish, the truth was also totally fitting!

The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir. This was my first book of 2019 and even though it didn’t take the route I expected, I really enjoyed it. I can’t even fathom what it would be like to grow up in such a super conservative and religious household, let alone one that’s broadcast nationally. A lot of people said it reminded them of The Duggars, but I had no idea who they were, but that didn’t mean I enjoyed it any less/more. But apparently a lot of the family dynamics and even the “scandal” was reminiscent of this real life family.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. Okay, I really don’t know if this one counts but I’m making it count because this was became a favorite of mine very recently. I honestly loved everything about it and I wrote a bit of a gushing review for it that you can read here.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. This was the third Rowell book I read and it just solidified her as a favorite for me. When I read this a few years ago, it felt like it was the first time I encountered a male protagonist/love interest with a non-Asian female protagonist. Is that sad? Maybe I’m just not well-read enough? 🤷🏻‍♀️ Either way, it was surprising but I enjoyed it! Both characters had deep-seated issues that were heartbreakingly relatable, but I loved how their relationship started and grew, and I was so there for their love story.

BONUS: The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. These are the books set in high school that are still sitting on my TBR but I’m predicting that I will love them when I finally get to them–which is going to be soon because they’re also on my reading list for pride month! Yay! Have you read any of these books?

What are your favorite books set in high school? Do any of my faves make your list? Feel free to leave me recommendations in the comments!

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera – #BookReview

Goodreads: What If It’s Us
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance

4.5 panda stars

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date… or a second first date… or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work… and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?

You know that happy bubbling feeling you get inside your chest after you finish reading a great book? How it feels like you could just burst with all the satisfying emotions that are trying to clamber its way up your throat and out your chest? No? Yes? Well, this book had me feeling this way when I finished it yesterday. Y’all, this book made me so happy! Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera have delivered a wonderful contemporary YA romance about firsts, friendships and believing in yourself. This was a fast and fun read that had me constantly barking out with laughter throughout (this garnered me much unwanted attention from the public and I absolutely could not care)! Tbh, I think this is the first Silvera book I read that I didn’t cry over? It left me with all the great feels without any of the sadness! Basically, if you like Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Broadway (Dear Evan Hansen etc.), Harry Potter, and Barack Obama, then you will like this book!

“I believe in love at first sight. Fate, the universe, all of it. But not how you’re thinking. I don’t mean it in the our souls were split and you’re my other half forever and ever sort of way. I just think you’re meant to meet some people. I think the universe nudges them into your path.” 

When Arthur and Ben have a random moment of connection outside the post office one day, Ben is mailing a box of his ex’s belongings to him and Arthur is captivated by his beauty, so obviously, he follows him inside. Their meet-cute is slightly awkward (Arthur has no chill) and geekily adorable, and they’re getting along just fine, until a flash mob in the post-office pulls them apart without having exchanged names or numbers. Arthur is a big believer of the universe, so would it throw him and this beautiful boy together for no reason at all? He doesn’t believe it. So begins the story of one boy trying to find that boy from the post office in a city of over eight million inhabitants. No big deal when you think the universe is on your side, right?

Maybe their connection was improbable, slightly corny or a little cliché, but this story was just all kinds of awkward, and adorable and was an absolute delight to read! There were so many things I loved about it: the characters, their stories, the friendships, the NYC setting, and Arthur’s fantastic obsession about Hamilton, the greatest musical to have ever been written (don’t @ me). Also, all the mentions about Lin-Manuel Miranda. The last two made me love this book even more because when it comes to Hamilton and LMM, I am 1000% Arthur serious, and that’s serious.

“God, Arthur.” He kisses me. “Te quiero. Estoy enamorado. You don’t even know.” And I don’t speak a word of Spanish, but when I look at his face, I get it.”

Ben and Arthur were such great characters and I honestly loved how their relationship grew. Although things moved pretty quickly between them once the ball got rolling, especially considering that they only had the summer, it didn’t feel contrived to me. There were lots of awkward firsts and do-overs, but their connection, banter, and love felt completely natural and perfect in its imperfections. Arthur’s experience of being in a relationship for the first time was so relatable and I couldn’t help but recall my own first relationship experience! Albertalli and Silvera did a really great job in describing the rush of having a crush and the high of discovering first love, but also about the importance of having people in your life who you can trust, be yourself around, and be supported by. Although this was a romance, I really enjoyed the friendships between Arthur, Ben and their best friends, as it reminded me so much of my own high school friendships with my own ‘crew’. Even the drama that erupted between the friends seemed so typically high school, and it really had me chuckling when thinking back on my own experiences.

I liked how the authors also highlighted the struggles and vulnerabilities that teenagers can go through and/or feel during this period (with friends/peers, school etc.); where it feels like you have to know what you’ll be doing once HS ends, what college you want to attend, what major you want to do. Ben’s struggles with school, and his overall insecurity of not being good enough and not believing in himself were so real, and I felt his struggle on such a personal level. Figuring himself out and finding his worth and confidence in himself was a key aspect of his character’s growth.

“I just need more time with me, I think. To really believe in my worth without anyone’s help.”

MILD SPOILER:

I’m giving this book 4.5 stars because the hopeless romantic was crushed with that ending. Open-ended endings always leave me feeling a little dissatisfied, and this was definitely one of them… I mean, I can acknowledge that the ending was sensible… but I didn’t want sensible, I wanted ALL THE THINGS for all the characters, damnit!

I’m so glad that I picked this book up yesterday. I really enjoyed reading it, how much it made me feel and how far down memory lane it let me stroll! I’m so glad that this was my first LGBTQ+ read for pride month!

Have you read What If It’s Us? What did you think of Albertalli’s & Silvera’s collaboration? Let me know in the comments and let’s have a little chat 🙂

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera – BOOK REVIEW

Goodreads: History Is All You Left Me
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis

Griffin has lost his best friend, ex-boyfriend, first love, and first everything, to a tragic drowning accident. Now not only does he have to cope with a giant Theo shaped hole in his life, he also has to deal with his worsening OCD, and probably worst of all, Jackson—Theo’s new boyfriend from California. The story shifts as Griffin recounts the “History” of his friendship/relationship with Theo and Wade, to “Today”, as he processes living a life without Theo, and deals with a growing, albeit reluctant, bond with Jackson. Griffin must learn to forgive and accept the past, in order to move on and embrace his present and future.

Review

Firstly, let me say: I love a good book that can make me cry, and Adam Silvera had me bursting out in crying jags throughout this whole novel. This was a heartbreaking and touching story that explores friendship, love, loss, and grief between four boys. The writing is infused with such deep sadness and longing that it’s almost tangible, but there are enough humorous and lighthearted moments between the characters that it doesn’t bog you down. 

“I’m sorry, but please don’t be mad at me for reliving all of it. History is all you left me.”

I think what made this book so enjoyable was how real the characters and situations were. Everyone has had a first love and a heartbreak that completely shatters you. It’s not easy being friends with an ex, and it’s even harder to see them moving on with someone new, especially when you’re not there yet. This book shows how fragile first love often is and illustrates how painful it can be to realize and accept that, especially as the person going through the breakup. Reading about Griffin’s struggle to be happy for Theo moving on with Jackson was so painful because it was relatable. I mean, ouch, I could definitely feel the residual sting in my heart over my own first love, and that happened years ago! I think it also shows how certain people will never leave your heart, even if they’re no longer in your life.

“Even if I only got to spend that first drive to the planetarium with Theo, he broke me in a way everyone should be lucky to be cracked open at least once. I had the privilege of being destroyed by him until we found a better, real me inside of the person I was pretending to be.”

As much as this was a love story, it was also about dealing with loss and coping with grief, and how for better or worse, everybody reacts differently to these moments in life. Silvera does a beautiful job illustrating how raw it can be to go through the stages of grief, especially for four young boys who’ve lost someone that played such a central and anchoring role in their lives. I really appreciated how these characters, and their emotions, and interactions were depicted so genuinely.

”There’s nothing wrong with someone saving my life, I’ve realized, especially when I can’t trust myself to get the job done right. People need people. That’s that.”

This was such a beautiful and touching read. While there was a lot of sadness and pain in the writing, the story ended on an uplifting and hopeful note, leaving you to believe that everything that’s going to work out, will work out right in the end. This is the second Adam Silvera book that I’ve read and with it, I think he has solidified his position on my list of authors that can make me feel all the feels, and cry a good cry.

Have you read History Is All You Left Me?
If you haven’t, is it already in your TBR or will you add it in?