Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Literary Paris: A Photographic Tour by Nichole Robertson
I can’t sleep tonight. Hell, I can barely catch my breath I have so much anxiety. So, I may as well catch up on my book blog posts!
Let’s just get Literary Paris out of the way, not because it isn’t a beautiful book, because it is! But, just because it isn’t life changing like the second book I want to discuss is.
So… Literary Paris, this is I believe, the fourth photo collection put out by Nichole Robertson, and it is just as lovely as the first few… if you are obsessed with photos of Paris, like I am. This book is different than the others in that it focuses on all of the literary elements of Paris… the great writers who were born there, the great writers who fled to there and found sanctuary and lives there. Where they lived. Where they are buried. Where they ate. Where they drank and were merry. It’s all here, it’s almost a guidebook if you are nerdy like me and would rather spend your time in Paris walking in the footsteps of your favorite authors instead of shopping on the Champs Elysses.
This book is totally for the Francophiles and the book nerds… all others… keep browsing.
Next… how to review a book that broke you open? And ever since the day I read THE paragraph… “stuff” hasn’t stopped spilling out of me since then.
Where the Crawdads Sing is hands down THE book of the past couple of years. It is bone achingly beautiful. The book is about a girl, abandoned by everyone and left alone to fend for herself in a marsh. It’s a book about the stories of who we are that come down through our lineage. It’s a story of womanhood. Of belonging. It’s a love story. It’s basically everything… in 368 pages.
Here are some parts that broke me open:
”She didn’t note the time of the moonrise or when a great horned owl took a diurnal dive at a blue jay. From bed, she heard the marsh beyond in the lifting of blackbird wings, but didn’t go to it. She hurt from the crying songs of the gulls above the beach, calling to her. But for the first time in her life, did not go to them. She hoped the pain from ignoring them would displace the tear in her heart. It did not.”
As someone who battles with depression, this paragraph really spoke to me. When you feel so low that you can’t even get out of bed for the things you love most in the world.
”There is no one on Earth you can count on. From somewhere very deep, she made herself a promise never to trust or love anyone again.”
I loved this sentence because it made me wonder how many people have made this promise to themselves? And did they do it consciously or subconsciously? Do they even know that this is what they’ve signed themselves up for?
”Suddenly, the sun- full, bright and glaring- struck her face. Never in her life had she slept until midday. She heard a soft rustling sound and, raising herself onto her elbows, saw a raven-sized Cooper’s hawk standing on the other side of the screen door, peering in. For the first time in days, an interest stirred in her. She roused herself as the hawk took wing. Finally, she made a mush of hot water and grits and headed to the beach to feed the gulls. When she broke onto the beach, all of them swirled and dived in flurries, and she dropped to her knees and tossed the food on the sand. As they crowded around her, she felt their feathers brushing her arms and thighs, and threw her head back, smiling with them. Even as tears streamed her cheeks.”
When I read this… all I could remember was this time a couple of summers ago when it was nearing the end of summer and I took the long pretty way home, and for the first time I really gave in to my heartache, man I walked around a lake tears just streaming down… you could feel the shift in the seasons happening and all I could think was, “Soon this year will be over. Another year. And I am still the same. Love has not found me. Will I die alone?” And yet, even in the midst of my despair, I was in awe at the beauty all around me… the leaves rustling in the trees, the ripples the wind made on the water, the flatirons, the farm houses. I felt everything amplified. My loneliness. And all the beauty in the world. Hello, solitude.
”But just as her collection grew, so did the loneliness. A pain as large as her heart lived in her chest. Nothing eased it. Not the gulls, not a splendid sunset, not the rarest of shells. Months turned into a year. The lonely became larger than she could hold. She wished for someone’s voice, presence, touch, but wished more to protect her heart. Months passed into another year. Then another.”
This was the first paragraph that made me weep in this book, and reading it and typing it out here it causes the same emotions. The lonely became larger than she could hold. Can you imagine feeling this way? And the conflict in knowing that you also promised yourself that no one would ever get close enough again to hurt you? But the loneliness is more than you can hold now? What is one to do when they find themselves at this crossroads?
And then this next bit put a nail in my coffin… I was done for.
”Kya walks from her shack and lies back on a sliver of beach, slick from the last wave. She stretches her arms over her head, brushing them against the wet sand, and extends her legs, toes pointed. Eyes closed, she rolls slowly towards the sea. Her hips and arms leave slight indentations in the glistening sand, brightening and then dimming as she moves. Rolling nearer the waves, she senses the ocean’s roar through the length of her body and feels the question: When will the sea touch me? Where will it touch me first? The foamy surge rushes the shore, reaching toward her. Tingling with expectancy, she breathes deep. Turns more and more slowly. With each revolution, just before her face sweeps the sand, she lifts her head gently and takes in the sun-salt smell. I am close, very close. It is coming. When will I feel it? A fever builds. The sand wetter beneath her, the rumble of surf louder. Even slower, by inches she moves, waiting for the touch. Soon, soon. Almost feeling it before it comes. She wants to open her eyes to peek, to see how much longer. But she resists, squinting her lids even tighter, the sky bright behind them, giving no hints. Suddenly she shrieks as the power rushes beneath her, fondles her thighs, between her legs, flows along her back, swirling under her head, pulling her hair in inky strands. She rolls faster into the deepening wave, against streaming shells and ocean bits., the water embracing her. Pushing against the sea’s strong body, she is grasped, held. Not alone.”
Oh. My. God. I cried so hard when I read that, I thought I might never stop. Then I took it to therapy and read it to her, and cried all over again.
There is so much more to this story- Kya’s and my own. But mine, is for another time. And for Kya’s- if she’s ever held by more than just the sea, well, you will have to read this beauty of a book to find out! And when you do, call me up or text me a date and let’s meet for coffee to talk about it. I hope you love it as much as I did. <3