Two books that I highly recommend for their strong writing and amazing narratives are Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and the memoir, Educated by Tara Westover.
I think I was very late to the ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ party. I had heard the title kicking about for quite some time. This pandemic has provided an opportunity to read, probably, a little bit more than I usually would, sometimes staying up turning pages way later than is really acceptable, given that I babysit an almost-three-year-old most days.
Coming to books with my own insatiable appetite for the outdoors and for wildlife, particularly birds, this book filled me to the brim. And while I appear to be quite an extrovert to most, I feel inwardly uncomfortable being in groups of people and feel awkward in the world of conversation. As a result, this book by Delia Owens, retired wildlife biologist, is strongly appealing to me.
We see this part of the world, intimately, through the eyes of Kya.
By description, the protagonist has a most amazing collection displayed inside her primitive cabin, located in a remote marshland in North Carolina. More than anything, I wish that I could feast my eyes on this. Surely it was an image that I carried in my imagination throughout the reading. I loved the idea of leaving feathers tucked away in secret places, treasured gifts from a special visitor. I think I know how Kya felt as I feel the same way when I discover a feather nestled in the tall grasses by the edge of the Bow River.
The story, suspense, character relationships read as believable and there are no moments of disappointment, at least not for this reader. I was completely absorbed by this book and the hidden world of life on the water and in this magical place. The fact that the protagonist becomes a writer causes me to look at some of the books on my book shelf differently. This is one.
I highly recommend the book, Where the Crawdads Sing for its rich description and charming story.
Next, the memoir Educated by Tara Westover is a powerful true-life reflection. This is another page-turner that totally engrossed me in a circumstance that is foreign and in so many ways, unbelievable.
Taken directly from the New Yorker review written by Alexandra Schwartz….this.
Westover was born sometime in September, 1986—no birth certificate was issued—on a remote mountain in Idaho, the seventh child of Mormon survivalist parents who subscribed to a paranoid patchwork of beliefs well outside the mandates of their religion. The government was always about to invade; the End of Days was always at hand. Westover’s mother worked as a midwife and an herbal healer. Her father, who claimed prophetic powers, owned a scrap yard, where his children labored without the benefit of protective equipment. (Westover recounts accidents so hideous, and so frequent, that it’s a wonder she lived to tell her tale at all.) Mainstream medicine was mistrusted, as were schools, which meant that Westover’s determination to leave home and get a formal education—the choice that drives her book, and changed her life—amounted to a rebellion against her parents’ world.
What I took from this novel was an astounding resilience and huge lessons about “education”. We encounter the brilliant truths about the stories we are told in our childhood and subsequently, the truths we tell ourselves. It is then a very complex process to integrate these truths with the lives that we live, the knowledge we attain and environmental impacts that come our way. Tara makes a stunning effort to communicate what this journey entails. This is such a powerful memoir. Please do read it.