EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - The East Brunswick Public Library opened its doors to thousands of patrons in 2019. They got passports, used media, created in the maker space, attended workshops, signed up for jobs, saw magicians, danced Barata, and, yes, even took out books. One book, the most popular in East Brunswick in 2019 was Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
According to Chris Barnes of the EBPL, "The most circulated adult in 2019 was by far was “Where The Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. At the peak, the waitlist to put a copy on hold was over 215 people long! There is still a strong demand for the book, we are even planning book discussion and book club readings for 2020."
Barnes suggested that the novel could become the "One Town, One Book" for 2020.
Two stories intersect in the novel, one is the tale of Kya, abandoned by her parents and left to raise herself in the rugged marshland, destitute and illiterate, yet full of wonder and in tune with nature. The other is a murder mystery set twenty years later in the same marshes. The reader waits for the stories to converge as Kya and the outside world reluctantly encounter each other.
What's the appeal of this novel that has spent 67 weeks on The New York Times Bestseller List? Beth Moroney, book reviewer for TAPinto, talks about the beauty of the language of the book which draws the reader into an otherworldly marshland, not seen since the post-Katrina film The Beasts of the Southern Wild: " The most striking element of Owens’ work is the elegance of the prose. Since the novel is set in the marshes of the coast of North Carolina, the author has the opportunity to write about the wonders of the natural world as if it is a living entity of its own.
The protagonist of the novel, young Kya, is in the woods near the shack in which she lives, when she spots the feather of a blue heron left especially for her on a tree stump. As she is admiring the rare feather, Owens describes a great blue heron in the background:
'A great blue heron is the color of gray mist reflecting in blue water. And like mist, she can fade into the backdrop, all of her disappearing except the concentric circles of her lock-and-load eyes. She is a patient, solitary hunter, standing alone as long as it takes to snatch her prey. Or, eyeing her catch, she will stride forward one slow step at a time like a predacious bridesmaid."
Kya, herself, is the dignified huntress, in command of her domain, with her own eye on the possibilities and predators around her.