Forums Club Ed Book Club Where the Crawdads Sing discussion

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    • #64932
      Jennifer Lawler
      Keymaster

      Okay, I’m going to open the discussion up!

      I have thoughts about the sometimes overwrought prose, but let’s focus on the bigger-picture items.

      What did you think about the style of the narration?

    • #64933
      Jennifer Lawler
      Keymaster

      I found the random shifting out of Kya’s POV a bit distracting–I mean random jumps into Jodie’s POV early on, then later dumping someone else’s perspective in to explain story events. For example, we get a random scene to show why Tate didn’t come for the Fourth of July. But we could have worked that out without a clunky scene explaining it. And I didn’t think entwining the investigation into Chase’s murder worked all that well. The investigation scenes, oh give me strength.

      • #64937
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        Yes, it felt like head-hopping in places!

    • #64934
      Jacque Hamilton
      Participant

      It took a bit to get into. I felt like we were a bit distanced from Kya. In parts that worked, given the POV, other times it left me not really caring.

      • #64958
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Jacque, talk about the distance a bit. I agree, but am curious as to your thoughts. What do you think was causing this?

    • #64935
      Kendra Olson
      Participant

      I found the novel difficult to get into and struggled with it a bit. I too thought the prose was a little overwrought in places, though I enjoyed it at other times. I thought the interwoven narratives helped to show more of Kya’s character, but there were also times when I questioned the way the story was told.

      • #64940
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Kendra, I thought the prose needed a good line editor. In one place she’s talking about “carrying the orb of the sun” (blech) but in another she mentions “worn-out suds” which I liked and could picture.

    • #64936
      Jacque Hamilton
      Participant

      Agreed. I was really taken back with the one paragraph in Jodie’s POV at the beginning. I didn’t mind the head-hopping after I got used to it, but it was a bit clunky.

      It felt like the murder plot was an addition to a sad scenario of an abandoned child, something to give it a story. The officers couldn’t have been more 1960s cliche.

      • #64954
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Jacque, some of that dialogue in the investigation scenes! Talk about “As you know, Bob” conversation:

        The two lawmen combed the area […]
        “You’re right, not one print,” Joe said.
        “Yeah, and no signs of somebody brushing them out,” Ed said.

        Oy.

    • #64938
      Jacque Hamilton
      Participant

      While the descriptions painted a pretty picture most of the time, there were others that were just odd. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a whiskey-colored sunset, though I’ve never been to the Carolina’s either. There were a few descriptions that were out of the blue and unnecessary, particularly of the sheriff’s office and courthouse.

    • #64939
      Jennifer Lawler
      Keymaster

      Tell me more!

      I felt like the author was struggling to figure out how to write a novel. She kept including things like the excerpt from a seaman’s journal, as if to show she’d done some research but which didn’t connect with the story, really.

      I found myself skimming through page after page of description of the marsh. Obviously the setting mattered to the story but it felt repetitious and didn’t tell me much about the story or the characters.

      Then the author would stop everything to dump in back story about, say, Kya’s parents and their marriage. Which Kya didn’t know, so it was the unnamed narrator foisting all of this on us, and to no real purpose. I figured out that Pa was a mean drunk on page one. I didn’t need all the history of his marriage to Mama. It doesn’t make him less of a stereotype.

      • #64955
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        I agree! It was like she thought she had to show every single angle. The main story felt a little lost in the midst of all the detail, head-hopping, etc.

    • #64953
      Kendra Olson
      Participant

      I questioned several of the story events, such as having absolutely everyone walk out on Kya. If Kya hadn’t had quite so many siblings, I might not have questioned it so much, but because she lived with so many people, it felt a little convenient to me. It seemed like the writer really wanted to write about what it would be like to experience nature from the perspective of a very young child. In order to get Kya to that point, she had to have everyone leave her. However, I didn’t fully buy their motivation for doing so (or all of their characters).

      • #64956
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Kendra, the abandonment also seemed implausible to me, especially the mother, who seemed to be a basically loving and nurturing person. And not one of the older ones had the heart to take Kya with them?

        I can see that it was necessary for the plot, but this was one of those times where the author seems to shove the character around (“all of the characters must abandoned Kya!”) rather than showing that these are actions these characters would realistically take.

        I would have been more inclined to believe it if, as you say, there were fewer siblings, and maybe if “abandonment” wasn’t taken so literally–I mean, imagine if Jodie had drowned instead or something; that would have been just as awful for Kya but more believable.

      • #64961
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        “Shove the character around” pretty much nails it for me.

        I also wondered what kept Kya’s mother from returning for her later on (her mother’s family is said to be caring, or so we are told when Jodie miraculously reappears).

    • #64957
      Jake Nicholls
      Participant

      I agree with everything said so far! My impression was that the author was trying to tell the story from an omniscient point of view, but the boundaries kept shifting and there was therefore no clear sense of a ‘narrator’ or consistent narrative voice. Choosing an omniscient POV also seems like a strange decision when information is deliberately withheld from the reader to create suspense/surprise.

      • #64963
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Jake, yes! The shifting narration was puzzling to me. I think the author could have accomplished the reveal without being so ham-fisted with the narration. And I question whether there was any real reveal in the first place. From the beginning I knew the body in the marsh (from the prologue) was going to turn out to be Kya’s victim. I would have been willing to read along to find out why rather than the author pretending this was some astonishing secret Tate discovers at the end.

        And that weird fakeout at the end, when Tate’s father dies. Would she really have let him be blamed for Chase’s death? I would have been interested to see that explored. But, “Haha! Gotcha! It’s just that his dad died!” really soured the ending for me.

      • #64965
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        I kept questioning my understanding of head-hopping. I actually went to look it up again, in case I’d misunderstood omniscient POV. The novel was a huge bestseller.

    • #64959
      Jacque Hamilton
      Participant

      It also felt like she was trying to prove that she could write poetry. I agreed with Tate that most of it was weak.

      The marsh descriptions did start to wear on me as well.

      Kya was an exaggerated stereotype of the ‘unworthy of love’ character; beautiful, natural, and in a love triangle with the stereotypical jock and soulful scientist. I felt that her arc was a bit exaggerated, too. It didn’t make a lot of sense for her to go to the hotel with Chase when she’d never been away from home in years except for one short mention of the library in the next town over.

      Most of the characters felt sterotypical, even Mama. And a lot of them were sorry for leaving, but it was difficult to feel the regret from them, when head-hopping to their perspective, or what Kya felt about it.

      • #64966
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        The poetry was another unnecessary reveal. “Oh, it turns out she was a poet, too!” Well, not a very good one, and what does it really add to her character?

      • #64969
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        I got really tired of the poetry. I would rather have seen more of Kya’s character by going closer to her perspective than to have the author use a device to show how Kya is experiencing story events.

      • #64985
        Jake Nicholls
        Participant

        Yes, me too. It felt very implausible that Kya would recite whole poems at a time. If she’d just recited a couple of phrases here and there, I think it would have had a bigger impact – as it was, I just skimmed over the poems.

    • #64960
      Jacque Hamilton
      Participant

      Yes, when the information was withheld, it was obvious, which sort of defeated the purpose.

    • #64962
      Jacque Hamilton
      Participant

      Absolutely! Especially Jodie or even one of the older girls, given their relationship with Mama was supposedly good.

    • #64964
      Jacque Hamilton
      Participant

      Don’t forget the donuts and cafe!

    • #64967
      Jake Nicholls
      Participant

      Could I ask what everyone thought about the phonetic/accented dialogue? Not being American, I can’t really judge how accurate or ‘authentic’ it was – but I did think it seemed quite inconsistent. Sometimes Kya (for example) seemed to speak with a strong accent, and other times not at all.

      • #64968
        Jake Nicholls
        Participant

        Plus, linking back to the POV question, the phonetic spellings very occasionally slipped into the narration – e.g. in that short passage following Jumpin’, there is mention of his “grandchillen” in the narration, which struck me as very odd and inconsistent with the rest of the book.

      • #64986
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Jake, we must have been posting at the same time (see my “let’s circle back to the prose” post). The inconsistency irritated me.

        And the dialect in general (“ya’re too old to play ‘splorers”) was over-the-top. A little is fine to suggest dialect but this really interfered with my ability to read. (Reminded me in parts of Wuthering Heights, those passages where the dialect is nearly impenetrable). (Not a compliment.)

      • #64994
        Jake Nicholls
        Participant

        Ah, yes – those passages in Wuthering Heights were impossible to read! At least there were only a couple of phrases in Crawdads that I couldn’t decrypt, and I put that down to not being familiar with certain US slang.

    • #64970
      Linda Hatton
      Participant

      Despite the problems I had with this book, I wound up really enjoying it because I cared about the characters.

      I had an issue from the start with the time jumps that started in chapter one. As the story moved on, I became more used to this and didn’t pull me out as much. However, at times, I had to turn back to the chapter beginning to reorient myself.

      The exposition that started on page 7 that gave history about the place went on a little long for my taste and pulled me out of the story.

      The section labeled Jodie (page 12—“They had endured Pa’s red-faced rages, which started as shouts, then escalated into fist-slugs, or backhanded punches”) described Pa’s outbursts, but I wanted to read this as a scene on the page.
      Even though I was bothered by the head-hopping throughout the book, the vivid setting descriptions and characterizations made up for it. That moment when Kya spelled dog at school—ouch. I felt her pain.

      Was anyone else confused about Kya’s race at first? Page 6 says, “He had her same dark eyes and black hair,” but later it says she was at the white school, which confused me. I wondered if the author was confusing on purpose.

      Some of the repeated information could be revised to avoid repetition. Revealing information only during the trial, such as about the bus schedules, would have made it a bigger surprise.

      I love the symbolism behind the mentions of nature, especially about grass: “People rarely noticed grasses except to mow, trample, or poison them” (page 351).

      And even though I love poetry, the poems themselves pulled me out of the story. I think if they had been formatted as the characters speaking the lines, they would have kept me better engaged. I loved the surprise, though, about Kya being Amanda Hamilton.

      • #64989
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Linda, there were parts that pulled me in, such as that section where Kya and her father reach a tentative peace and she saves the burned letter. I wanted more of that and less of the really badly written investigation scenes.

        The whole idea of this feral child being fully in tune with nature was intriguing, but overall the characters felt so stereotyped it was hard for me to connect with them.

      • #64993
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        There was a lot of telling and info dumping in the book. I felt like it would have benefited from a structural edit as well as a line edit. It also could have been shorter.

    • #64971
      Jennifer Lawler
      Keymaster

      Circling back to the prose. I felt the unevenness of the prose was a huge problem. In one sentence the narrator (not a character) is using the phrase “drum-likker” and in the next “when cornered, desperate or isolated man reverts to those instincts that aim straight at survival.”

      And Kya in one moment is saying, “He ain’t comin’ back” and in the next, “I only see them rarely. There are many of that genus here, but this particular species . . . ”

      Arghh. One wonders where the editor was.

      • #64987
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        Yes! I didn’t fully buy that Kya would become so well educated either, even with Tate’s help. The plot didn’t seem to build naturally.

      • #64991
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Kendra, the way she learned to read in twelve minutes was an eye roller for me. She wasn’t a savant in other ways, why that one? I would have believed it more if Mama had taught her some basic literacy that was later built on.

        Plus the whole “Tate teaches her to be a woman” thing was a real yeech to me.

      • #64997
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        I kept thinking she would probably be much more vulnerable than she was, and possibly be suffering from malnutrition.

        I rolled my eyes a lot too.

        But I also wondered if the author might have been trying to write a sort of fairy tale or myth. The distant POV, implausibility of plot events and weak character motivation, plus the moral at the end of the story made me wonder about this possibility.

      • #65021
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Yes, the lore of The Marsh Girl. Kendra, you could be right, the author is trying for some sort of mythmaking. But then I don’t really get the intrusion of the murder. What kind of story is the author trying to tell? Still have no idea.

      • #65025
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        I wondered if the murder scenes were tacked on later, to try and ‘lift’ the novel.

      • #65048
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Kendra , that would explain a lot. The investigation scenes feel entirely tacked on.

      • #65052
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        Perhaps an example of an unsuccessful DE revision that didn’t adequately address the novel’s weaknesses?

      • #65092
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Kendra, interesting insight into this being a perhaps unsuccessful DE revision! Without the murder we just have a sort of story of a girl’s life, which probably doesn’t explore character well enough to stand alone as that type of literary fiction. So, the author grafts (perhaps at an editor’s suggestion) the murder/investigation on to it as a means of pulling the reader along. Could be.

      • #65107
        Jake Nicholls
        Participant

        I think the fact that the investigation chapters are so short and have nothing in the way of character development or plot progression would support this theory – it does seem like ‘fluff’ that’s been put in to try and centre the story around the murder, not something that grew organically with the rest of the novel.

      • #65053
        Jacque Hamilton
        Participant

        They do feel tacked on. Does anyone think the investigation or at least the court scenes would have worked better at the end of the story instead of interspersed? It might have been really wearing then.

      • #65093
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Jacque, I felt that the whole narrative could have been written in chronological order and without the investigative scenes and it would have worked better. If the author “needed” to dump in the murder early on in order to keep the reader turning pages, then maybe some work should have been done on the Kya part of the story to keep readers turning the pages.

      • #64999
        Jacque Hamilton
        Participant

        Haha, got replies to work. My apologies

        The inconsistent prose at first had me thinking this was maybe Kya telling the story as an old woman, or her “chillen” or someone close to her. It took me a bit to realize it wasn’t even a reporter, just a narrator.

        The learning to be a woman, yeah, yeech.

    • #64972
      Jacque Hamilton
      Participant

      Jennifer, I felt like we never got deep enough into Kya’s perspective. It made me feel sorry for her like I would watching a news show, instead of feeling for her. I think the problem was that Kya got most of her information for decision making from outside sources, such as memories of her mother and Jodie. We rarely got a chance to read how it made her feel, physically or emotionally.

      The reason I felt it sometimes worked was in the head-hopping. Not going as deep made the head-hopping less jarring. Yet, there was too much Kya couldn’t know, even with a more omniscient POV.

      I apologize for the format, I’m having hard time nesting replies and my computer can’t seem to keep up with my typing.

      • #64995
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Jacque, what a great point about the difference between feeling and feeling sorry.

        The muddy narration really made it hard for me to experience this as more than a news story (such a great analogy). Obviously the author wanted to use that sort-of omniscience to withhold information but the story would have been better served for her to abandon that effort and truly tell (or, rather, show!) Kya’s story.

    • #64988
      Jacque Hamilton
      Participant

      Jennifer and Jake-

      That was a weird set-up with Tate’s dad dying. It was so out of the blue, too! Just shoved in there. Although I liked the character, it also felt a bit heartless. Kya should have been there for Tate, especially after Scupper supported her in court and she was able to go to the hotel with Chase.

    • #64990
      Jacque Hamilton
      Participant

      Kendra and Jake-

      It also seemed implausible for her to have had them published on her own. It didn’t make up for the lack of deep perspective, which is what it felt like it was supposed to do.

      • #65000
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        Absolutely. Tate seemed to help her so much and he was the one who made it possible for her books to be published. Although she went to the library and is said to love reading, there’s no mention of her reading regional magazines or poetry.

      • #65017
        Jacque Hamilton
        Participant

        Or even going to the library more than the one time.

    • #64992
      Jacque Hamilton
      Participant

      Agree with the dialogue dialect! It was so difficult at first and took forever for me to get through the first 25% of the story.

      • #64998
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        Me too! I thought I would never finish it.

      • #65001
        Jacque Hamilton
        Participant

        If it weren’t for the club and the price tag of the book, I would have put it down.

      • #65016
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        Me too. I kept wondering what it is that catapulted it to the bestsellers.

      • #65019
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Yeah, if I hadn’t picked it for the club I wouldn’t have finished it. Sigh.

      • #65034
        Jacque Hamilton
        Participant

        I wonder why people love it so much? Afraid to say they didn’t like a Reece pick? I found only one person on Goodreads (that I follow) had the same problem with the first quarter and didn’t finish.

    • #64996
      Jacque Hamilton
      Participant

      Linda- I had trouble knowing Kya’s race at first, too. A lot of the things were told rather than shown through scenes on the page, which could be another reason the perspective didn’t feel deep enough.

      • #65018
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Jacque, that’s true (about information being told versus shown) but I also felt a lot of the scenes where the author tried to show things just didn’t work. Like the scene with the truant officer. I just didn’t believe that these people would actually do these things and talk this way. Same with every one of the investigation scenes.

        But I did believe the scene in the school, where Kya is trying to spell dog. And most of the scenes with Jumpin’ felt true (to me, anyway).

      • #65022
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        I liked the scenes with Jumpin’. His character felt real.

        As a crime story, it didn’t work for me at all.

      • #65029
        Jacque Hamilton
        Participant

        I liked Jumpin’ and Mabel, they felt the most real. I did like Tate, but he was a bit of a Mary-Sue except when he didn’t visit. The crime didn’t work for me, either.

      • #65031
        Linda Hatton
        Participant

        I liked Jumpin’ too!

      • #65049
        Jacque Hamilton
        Participant

        Jumpin’ had likeable character traits, and the author put him through at least one conflict (the boys calling him names as he walked by). He was described in just enough detail, which is lacking with the other characters, including Kya and Tate.

        Come to think of it, Kya beating those boys for calling Jumpin’ names was one of the most real scenes, except that she didn’t go any deeper than she figured she woulnd’t go “vizitin'” again.

      • #65026
        Jacque Hamilton
        Participant

        Jennifer, it could link back to most of the characters feeling like cardboard cutouts.

      • #65050
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Jacque, you’re right: the scenes that don’t work for me are largely the scenes where I don’t believe in the characters. Hmm. Thanks for illuminating that.

    • #65014
      Linda Hatton
      Participant

      I didn’t have a problem believing her learning ability once Tate got her started. I think it was because she had been alone and figuring things out on her own for so long that it felt like a natural progression. I had a bit of a problem believing she was the real killer, though.

      • #65020
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        To me, it would have been plausible if she’d quickly learned about science from speaking with Tate. She was already spending her days studying nature. However, I didn’t buy that she’d learn to read so quickly and to such a high level.

        I didn’t buy that she was the real killer either. The details around how that played out seemed a little murky.

      • #65023
        Jacque Hamilton
        Participant

        She lived in nature and spoke about the natural order of things so often and had isolated herself from societal norms, that it felt natural for her. What I had a hard time with was the planning that went into it, with the bus schedules and all that. I could see her luring him like the fireflies, but only if the opportunity presented itself.

      • #65027
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        Yes, I agree. She had to be told how to take the bus, so how would she plan it so well? Also, wouldn’t she be noticed?

      • #65032
        Jacque Hamilton
        Participant

        Well, she could have been dressed as the old lady and the man…though still not plausible for her character, who was described as never playing dress up.

      • #65035
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        Even without that description of her character, I can’t imagine her pulling it off. It’s too far-fetched.

      • #65051
        Jacque Hamilton
        Participant

        Agreed

      • #65054
        Linda Hatton
        Participant

        I agree.

    • #65015
      Linda Hatton
      Participant

      (Sorry, my comment nesting isn’t working either.)

    • #65055
      Jennifer Lawler
      Keymaster

      Let’s ponder this a little: Why was this book so successful? What elements might other readers have enjoyed or valued? (I’m just stunned it gets so many 5-star reviews but there must be something!)

      • #65068
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        I do think that the theme of abandonment resonates with people. And the subculture of the marsh dwellers is kind of interesting.

      • #65070
        Jacque Hamilton
        Participant

        I think it does, too. Reading about someone going through the same growing pains as everyone else although isolated kinda gives validation to those feelings.

      • #65069
        Jacque Hamilton
        Participant

        The descriptions of the setting painted a vivid picture, even if overbearing at times. Someone wrote earlier that the story of a feral girl was intriguing.

      • #65071
        Jacque Hamilton
        Participant

        Could be as simple as herd mentality, too, which is a growing topic surrounding social media.

      • #65072
        Jacque Hamilton
        Participant

        What was it that interested you enough to want to read it?

      • #65073
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        It was so hugely popular I wanted to see what the fuss was about, and a colleague mentioned she was interested in discussing it because she felt it was flawed despite its popularity. And for DE discussions, flawed is exactly what we’re looking for!

      • #65086
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Yeah, “Everyone is reading it, I should, too!”

      • #65124
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        I know I’m late to this, and technically the discussion is closed, but might the book’s popularity have something to do with people’s increase in consciousness about the environment, climate change, etc? Kya lives so close to nature, and in such a different way to most of us (no TV or telephone, let alone the internet), that her experience itself is novelty. At a time when increasing numbers of people are choosing not to fly and to eat mostly locally grown food, it might be that readers want to vicariously experience what it would be like to live that close to nature. I’m not sure! It’s late here and my mind is wandering. I looked up the author’s website earlier though and, on it, she talks about wanting to explore (through her fiction) how our evolutionary past affects our present day behavior.

      • #65542
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Kendra, it’s interesting what you say about environmental awareness. I also think the idea of “I just want to be free from technology” etc is strongly felt by a lot of people. It’s not realistic for any of us to go live in a swamp, but this is a way to experience it vicariously.

    • #65091
      Jake Nicholls
      Participant

      I’m a bit mystified by its success, too. It hasn’t been a runaway bestseller in the UK, but it’s still going pretty strong in the Top 50 chart, so it evidently has a wide appeal.

    • #65094
      Jennifer Lawler
      Keymaster

      There’s a kind of Southern Gothic vibe to the story that makes me wonder if that has anything to do with its appeal.

    • #65108
      Jennifer Lawler
      Keymaster

      Looks like we’re winding down so I’m going to direct your attention to next month’s pick, which is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. First Weds of March (March 4), same place, same time.

      Thanks, all!

      • #65110
        Jake Nicholls
        Participant

        Sounds great. Thank you everyone for a lively and interesting discussion! I’m looking forward to the next one.

      • #65123
        Kendra Olson
        Participant

        Thanks, everyone! And thank you, Jennifer, for hosting. I’m looking forward to reading and discussing All the Light We Cannot See next month.

      • #65514
        Linda Hatton
        Participant

        Thanks, everyone, for a great discussion! And thank you for hosting, Jennifer!

    • #65109
      Jennifer Lawler
      Keymaster

      Oh, and PLEASE send your suggestions to me either at jennifer@jenniferlawler.com or post ’em here. I’m always on the lookout for the next one.

    • #65173
      Adrienne Pond
      Participant

      I’m so sorry that I couldn’t join but I just enjoyed reading everyone’s contributions. Is the main organization that you all meet at a particular time to discuss it and then the discussion closes?

      In case anyone checks back in, I was super excited to read this book, falsely thinking it would make me feel the way A Girl of the Limberlost did/does. The POV shifts, time jumps, crime investigation, abandonment issues, and many of the other things you all mentioned also drew me out of the story. I truthfully ran out of time to finish it, but I got pretty far in and found myself less and less interested in picking it back up.

      This is the author’s first attempt at fiction, I believe, and I also was super excited about her being a wildlife scientist. I thought it would enrich the descriptions of the landscape, which I think it did but all too sporadically.

      One paragraph I really liked:
      p. 34
      “… Sometimes she heard night-sounds she didn’t know or jumped from lightning too close, but whenever she stumbled, it was the land that 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.”

      • #65541
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Adrienne, sometimes we have people jumping in and out over a longer period of time but yesterday there were just a couple of us who all showed up at once. I am not sure how the new forum approach (we used to meet on Facebook) will alter participation. Next time I will try keeping the conversation open longer.

        I agree about some of the descriptions being very good. There were a few places where I stopped to re-read because I liked a turn of phrase or an image. But the good was overshadowed by the clunkiness. I suspect she has the ability to write a much better story but am afraid that the success of this one will make it hard for her to recognize the need to improve craft. I have no inclination to pick up any other novel she happens to write.

    • #65213
      Ramona Gault
      Participant

      Oops, I’m late to the party! Didn’t realize it had started. Great comments, everyone. My notes reveal the same problems you’ve already noted: head hopping within scenes, larger shifts in POV that pulled me out of the story, “telling” for long passages rather than “showing,” careless word choice (Kya using the word “artifact” before she would’ve known what it meant, p. 84), cultural stereotypes galore. I also felt many scenes were weak, such as the one on p. 187 when Kya bumped into Chase’s parents on the sidewalk. It could have been tense and emotional, but I found it flat. Nothing happened. No character development. No plot development.
      I used to visit the Outer Banks of NC and was interested in reading about that setting. I think the accents probably are accurate; that region has been isolated for centuries so people have a unique regional accent, dating back to English settlement. And it doesn’t sound like the stereotypical Southern accent beloved of TV characters. Like you all, I’m puzzled by the book’s long popularity; perhaps it is the setting, and a bit of a Gothic element. But where was the editor???

      • #65543
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Ramona, I also saw so many possible moments where the story could turn, emotion could be built, or conflict could lead to action but the author let those opportunities drop. It’s one of those times when I feel very frustrated with the editor (more than the author). So much potential and it amounted to just about nothing.

    • #68307
      Val Mathews
      Participant

      I’m late to the party and still reading the novel. I read many of the posts here. I’m confused about why everyone is using the term head-hopping. Do you mean switching POV from chapter to chapter? She doesn’t head hop mid-scene in the chapters I have read so far. I look forward to discussing All the Light We Cannot See. I read it last fall.

      • #76894
        Jake Nicholls
        Participant

        Hi, Val – there’s often head-hopping in the scenes that follow Kya but feature other characters. For example, at the end of the first chapter (‘Ma’), there’s a sentence that head-hops to Jodie: “He wanted to say something to get her mind off Ma, but no words came […]”. Some of the most jarring head-hopping moments for me were where Tate’s or Chase’s perspectives were used out of the blue to describe Kya’s appearance.

    • #75895
      Brenda Lange
      Participant

      Hi all,

      I was in San Miguel de Allende when you were discussing this book, and I heard Delia Owens speak–to a PACKED room–on my last night there. And then, I happened to be sit next to her in the airport shuttle the next morning AND hang out with her and two other women while our flight out of Leon was delayed.

      She was genuine and sweet, with a Southern edge, and clearly shocked by the huge success she is experiencing. Has anyone read her first three books?

      I do agree with many of your comments above, and yet, I enjoyed the story, in spite of the problems with it … reading it as a layperson and not an editor. It was her first novel, has sold about 5 million copies, and is being made into a movie–optioned by Reese W., so she appealed to something in a whole lot of lay readers! She is working on a second novel, so perhaps she needs a good DE … 😉

      I’m looking forward to next month’s discussion!

      • #76895
        Jake Nicholls
        Participant

        That’s an amazing story, Brenda, and such a coincidence that you got to spend time with Delia Owens! Maybe you could try and track down Anthony Doerr for next month’s discussion? 😉

    • #76981
      Brenda Lange
      Participant

      Hi Jake,

      I will do my best to find him. 🙂

      B.

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