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My top pick for 2019 is the story of the wild and free spirited Kya. Kya lives an isolated existence in the marsh land of the North Carolina coast. She becomes so intertwined with her environment that the environment becomes both her solace and her education. As a nature enthusiast I love the detailed descriptions of the flora and fauna of the salt marshes. A reflection of the author's (Delia Owens) background as a wildlife scientist. The novel has elements of mystery (the story begins with the discovery of a body in the Marsh lands) romance and even a courtroom thriller interlude. It is a beautiful yet haunting story that completely captivated me.
I was so disappointed in this book. I'd waited weeks for it after hearing people at work talk about it. It really is only a step above a Nicholas Spark's story and you don't really care that much about any of the characters. I agree with another reviewer here who said it relies completely on backwater southern stereotypes.
It seems the authors was more intent on showing you she'd done her research on the ecosystem of the area rather than developing the characters and writing a plausible story. It often reads more as a term paper than a novel.
I don’t concur with all of the glowing reviews. I appreciated the unique premise—a blend of nature-writing, coming-of-age tale, and murder mystery—but I found the writing a bit stilted and inauthentic, especially the dialogue. On the surface, some of the characters seemed complex, but once I dug in a bit, they seemed one-dimensional. That said, it was an enjoyable enough read; I probably would have liked it better had my expectations not been so high because of all the hype.
A moody piece! Kaya turns to the only thing she can count on, the marsh. Her adventures lead her to the ultimate tragedy and near incarceration. She is then rescued by her lifelong relationships Unexpectedly. A story of abandonment and recovery.
Excellent read ... descriptions of nature and living in nature were compelling, complete with a surprise ending!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was written by a scientist (zoologist) and it shows. The details about the natural world and poetry were beautiful. I was intrigued by the discussions of trauma and how it affects humans and relationships. This was refreshingly different compared to many of the other popular fiction books I've read over the past several years.
What others view as plot holes, I feel were intentional to get you thinking. As for what others felt were awful stereotypes, well stereotypes are often founded in truths; just be intelligent enough to understand that stereotypes don't apply to everyone. I very much appreciate the lessons in humanity that the author shares.
I feel a moral duty to review this book because it was so ungodly awful. It was over written with no character development and a complete reliance on shallow Southern stereotypes. It suffered from a wholesale failure to develop a plot that was not riddled with holes large enough to waterski through drunk. It was a writing workshop project someone outlined on a napkin after spending 10 minutes thinking about all the idiot Southerner tropes she could come up with, then wrote in a haze while sitting in a lounge chair (anywhere but the South) drinking boxed wine. And good god, the book must not have had one Southern reader before it got published because the descriptive details were complete garbage -- you cannot live on greens (even if you're feral and 7); hushpuppies big as goose eggs would be burned to a crisp on the outside and raw inside; you cannot dent a cast iron pan (your mama's pan will either look the same 30 years later or be rusty because you didn't use it). Seriously, make SOME effort if you are going to publish a book.
For those of you smitten by the South, read something by a real Southern writer: Ron Rash, Angie Thomas, Daniel Wallace, Dorothy Allison, Jesmyn Ward, Sue Monk Kid, Alice Walker....there are too many amazing talents out there to name. Don't waste your life reading crap. There's so much great writing out there!
While there were many fascinating elements (themes of nature, landscape, love, loneliness, and a strong female lead) in this novel, the characters were not complex enough to carry the plot which was not always convincing or believable. The first part was definitely the best and was both powerful and touching. Later on the book seemed to loose focus and it may have been better if it had tried to do less in a tighter, shorter format.
This is one of the best books that I have ever read. Captivating from the first page through the end.
I described this to a friend as a fantasy, and maybe all the readers who love this book use it to escape from the national and global problems we cannot control. The romance/murder plot is unsurprising. I admired Kya's reverence for biology--a worthwhile lesson from the book. Why could conventional spelling not be used? The awkward attempts to convey a dialect by misspelling become annoying.
As a first-time novelist, Delia Owens has woven a beautiful tale of rejection, love, compassion and coming of age. Her descriptions of the marshlands of North Carolina are so realistic that you are transported there every time one of the characters travels through them on a boat. Tragic in many ways, this story describes exactly what happens when someone perceived to be different is subjected to hatred and discrimination. Kya, the book’s heroin, is such a victim and yet with the love of one man, is able to rise out of ignorance to transform from the Marsh girl to the Marsh expert. Beautiful story with a surprising ending.
For a book to receive 5 stars, it must be a riveting and compelling book that I want to keep in my library. I am making an exception for this book. This book was a wondrous joy and deeply insightful book, but once you have read it, I (personally) will not pick it up again, for I know how it ends.
I was told this was a chick book, I suppose, because it is a love story. Well, in part it is, but is also so much more and therefore, I would like to dispel the the cliche of being a "chick" book. It is a book for everyone.
The writing style of Delia Owens reminded me (or paralleled) the Haper Lee, author of "To Kill a Mocking Bird". By this I was very much touched by the deeply emotional and sensitive writing style. Each word seemed to carry a very earthly and honest meaning. Yet, the language was so simple. The story was real, endearing, sensitive, and full of richness.
It engages you so deeply and completely you become part of the story as a by stander. You are allowed in the private moments of the characters. You feel with them the joy, the anguish, the pain, and all the other parts of their lives. I was completely consumed with all the characters and got to know them so well.
The characters presented are a true dichotomy of life and were perfect contributors to each other and the essence of the story. They all fit perfectly, they all had a deep and powerful contribution to the story. Not one, was superfluous and without purpose. If one of these characters had been left out, I don't believe the story would have reached the fullness and breadth that it achieved.
Each reader will take away from the book something a bit different for it is one of the those books that touches each reader a bit different from another reader, which is another reason it is such a great book. You will feel the depth of loneliness, the anguish of fear, the desire for love, the need for someone else, the understanding of the cycle of live, the wonders and gifts of nature, and so much more. There are so many facets to this book and is why it will touch each of us differently.
It is easy to see why this book is one of 2019's best selling books. It is that good.
This is one of the most impactful books I have ever read. I cried when it was over as I was teeming with emotion. The author's debut was astoundingly well written, and I felt that I could relate to Kya and empathized with her because of this.
I'm only half way through this and I'm already aching to see whodunit! An amazing author with heart-breaking character and stunning description!
Deserving of the acclaim, this mid-century story of a resilient, resourceful individual immersed in the natural world is striking for its intimate, poetic descriptions of the birds, shells, and plants of the marsh coast of North Carolina. Kya becomes one with the marsh, sea, and animals; they are her family. Her relationship becomes innate, instinctual, visceral. The plot, tragic but uplifting, seems simple on the surface, but is as cleverly woven as a bird nest. Look for clues in Kya’s world.
An excellent book which I found was hard to put down. I love the way the authoress incorporated poetry into her story lines. I look forward to more books by this writer.
A coming of age story of abandonment, love, betrayal, and Murder. It is beautiful, sad and satisfying.
This book was highly recommended and never on the shelf in the library, so I read it when it was offered to me by a new friend. I don't particularly like romance; but I read this book from cover to cover in just a few days time because I felt it was important enough to my new friend that I at least owed that to her. I'm not a big fan of books that jump back and forth in time; but this book at least gave a year at the beginning of each chapter so that I knew where I was at. I always love figuring out why a book or a movie was given a particular title, so I was happy to learn that and not be guessing. The ending surprised me and came much too quickly, I thought.
This books lives up to all the praise it has received. It is an original and the protagonist and story are compelling. But I would have preferred a different ending. What the reader learns at the very end made me sad for the man who had lived with a woman he never really knew who was cruel enough to leave the evidence for him to find.
This is a great book! The main character Kya Clark is a strong girl who despite being abandoned fights for the right to love and forgive. The author Delia Owens has very successfully painted in words the haunting nature and beauty of the swamp where Kya grows up alone!
With so many peoples waiting for this book I was really disappointed when I finally got it.
The idea of any ten year old girl surviving in the marsh by herself is too unbelievable.
Delia Owen's debut fiction novel is a beautiful piece that challenges readers to look beyond the labels that we assign others in order to see the individual person. Gripping from start to finish, Owen spins multiple timelines together seamlessly to record a devastating incident and what led to the event.
I enjoyed this book, particularly the descriptions of the marsh, young Kya, and her illustrations. I'd have rated the book even higher, were it not for various things that seemed inexplicable related to the NC setting, Chase's wife, his demise, etc. For better or worse, it seems like it should be made into a movie. I liked the prose, especially in the first part of the book, so am interesting in reading another title by this author.
I was left disappointed with this book. It just didn't ring true to me. The setting is a fictional town on the NC coast, which I have no problem with, but the different characters kept going to Asheville (!?) to get stuff. That makes no sense at all. It read to me like someone who has spent a lot of time in marshes along the Southeast coast, but, as a native North Carolinian, I did not feel like the author really got North Carolina specifically. It bugged me enough to go look up her bio. I saw that she is from Georgia and now lives in Idaho. The setting felt more like the Georgia coast to me. The bit about Asheville was just superfluous and could have been subbed with any number of other cities. I think this book would have worked better if she had set it along the Georgia coast, but I was willing to overlook the little missteps like that and some of the dialogue, but then the rushed last part of the book and the ending left a sour taste in my mouth. I did like the beginning of the book better and really liked the idea of a "Marsh Girl", but it just didn't hang together the way I wanted it to. I would give this book an "okay", but definitely don't get all the love for it. There are better Southern and North Carolinian books out there.
For a book that has some similarities to this novel I highly recommend "Refuge" by Dot Jackson, who was a native North Carolinian who wrote for the Charlotte Observer for years. It is absolutely spot-on with dialect and sense of place. CHPL does have it. I read it ten years ago and it still hangs with me.
And it is in no way as good as anything Barbara Kingsolver has ever written in my estimation. Kingsolver is always spot on with facts and dialect and dialogue. Owens fell short.
I'm just not sure why this has been so popular. Some parts were lovely, and the author did a nice job evoking the atmosphere of the Outer Banks, the time and place. The beginning of the novel was the best, getting to know the main character, Kya, and getting a feel for her world. And there is some intrigue, as we're taken back and forth from her childhood story to a current murder investigation.
But I found too much of the plot, and the dialogue, just too unbelievable, implausible. I was intrigued enough to keep reading through the somewhat tedious YA romance and the last half, but mostly in the hopes that the story would redeem itself.
But no, implausible. Right to the end. Ugh. Maybe if there wouldn't have been such hype, if I had gone in with lower expectations, I would have been more forgiving and liked it better??