Updated: Oct 18, 2019
Hi, everyone. My name is Katie, and each week I’m going to present you with a funny review of a book read by one of the Friends of the Library employees. Basically, I'll give you my totally unbiased perspective of a book based on an interview I had. Although the books discussed are very real and definitely read by my interviewees, they are most certainly not read or understood by me.
For my first interview, I spoke to a bookstore employee named Mandy.* Mandy was naturally hesitant to participate in this interview because of the silly nature of it, but she eventually acquiesced after I promised I would leave her alone after the conversation.
(Sentences and words in bold type are my own commentary. I hope you find it as amusing and disruptive as it was intended to be.)
*name was changed in order to salvage employee’s dignity
The name of this week’s book is “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens.
Me: “So what does that mean, the title?”
Mandy: “You have to read the book to find out.”
Me: “Well...what about for those people who aren’t going to read it?”
Mandy: “It’s something to do with the crawfish culture of the area. Anyway, the book takes place in the Outerbanks of North Carolina–”
Me: “So, where the airplane thing happened with the Orville popcorn brothers?”
Mandy was not amused.
Mandy: “It’s about a young woman who had a very difficult and tragic childhood and how she learned to cope with that and grow into a well-respected individual.”
Me: “And what is the link between this woman and shrimp (craw)?
Mandy: “I’ll get to it! The woman spent her life as an amateur biologist. She learned so much that by the end of her life she basically could have gotten a degree in it.”
Me: “Ok. And how does this book unfold?”
Mandy: “In the beginning, you are introduced to this girl (who is known, not so affectionately, as “Marsh Girl” because of where her family lived) who essentially witnessed her mother being abused by her father...and her mother eventually had enough and decided to leave the family. Her siblings also left, and the girl was left alone with her father, so she had to find coping mechanisms to deal with that.”
Me: “It seems like the father was bad news.”
Mandy:” Very bad news, yes. And she was very young–maybe nine. Eventually, her father leaves the scene too...so [Kya] basically raised herself from a young age.”
I’d like to take this moment to point out that Mandy openly admitted that she remembered absolutely none of the characters’ names. I told her this would make the interview better, funnier–she could watch me fumble over the who’s who of it all. But based on how high Mandy raised her eyebrows after I said that, we clearly had very different definitions of the word “better.” For our very strict academic purposes, I did research and discovered that the main character’s name is Kya Clark and that the book is based in the year 1969.
Me: “So what’s the turning point? When did things go from ‘oh, this is so bad’ to ‘she’s moving forward in life?’”
Mandy: “Someone taught her how to read. She started reading all these wildlife books that were left in the home, and she learned and–actually I think the person who taught her to read also gave her the books.”
Me: “Which one is it, Mandy?”
Ok, so I gave her a little bit of a hard time. But I will tell you that the boy who taught Kya to read is named Tate Walker.
Me: “It sounds like learning about shrimp helped her lift herself out of this situation.”
Mandy: “Not just shrimp.”
Me: “Ok, other crawfish too.”
Me: “So she’s nine years old, living in this terrible situation, newly learning about the wildlife in her area. Then what?”
Mandy: “There’s this guy who’s like a typical football star, and he and his friends have a game to see who can ‘have’ Kya first since she’s the weird girl everyone makes fun of. And they were making fun of her too with this bet. But over time we don’t know if he actually falls in love with her or if he was just trying to get her into bed with him. He does end up sweet-talking her into bed anyway by promising they would get married.”
Me: “What a mess. How does the book go on– what’s next?”
Mandy: “The guy who taught her how to read (our boy Tate) had fallen in love with her (she was 14 and he was 18) and promised he would come back for her after he went off to college, but he didn’t.”
Me: “And she stayed there at home.”
Mandy: “Right. She felt abandoned by him as she felt abandoned by all her family members and this other ‘football dude.’ In the end she was also hurt by him because she really had fallen in love with him and found out he was engaged to be married to someone else.”
Me: “This isn’t ending well so far.”
Mandy: “So she ends up burying herself somewhat in her work–”
Mandy had probably heard better jokes in her lifetime.
Mandy: “So she does these scientific drawings, and, in the end, [Tate] saw her work and got it published. That’s not quite the end, but I’m not going to tell you how it ends.”
Me: “But you just said this was the end! Is it because you don’t remember? Otherwise I’d feel cheated.”
Mandy really just did not want to tell me how this book ended–but I would make sure she did.
**SPOILER ALERT** If you don’t want to know the end, stop here! The other choice is to keep reading, wait three years, forget how it ends, then read the book.
Mandy: “Oh, I remember the end now.”
Mandy: “So her scientific drawings are published, and she is about to be published again, so she is invited to Asheville, or somewhere in North Carolina. During this time, her ‘football lover’ (Fine–I’ll finally tell you this guy’s name: it’s Chase Andrews) is killed. So the question is, who killed him?”
Me: “Oh, it’s a murder.”
Me: “Do people think it was her (Kya)?”
Mandy: “The sheriff does. There was a trial and all that, and [Kya] was acquitted in the end.”
Me: “This is not really a happy ending, but is it the ending? Remember when you were going to tell me about the ending?”
I’m really excited to hear about this ending.
Mandy: “So she was in jail for a few months during the trial but was let go.
Anyway...ah, I wish I could remember all these names…”
Me: “We can give ‘em fake names if you want.”
Mandy: “[Kya] ends up marrying [Tate], the boy who taught her how to read.”
There is a long pause.
Me: “Oh, that’s the end!”
Mandy: “Not quite.”
Me: “This is the third time you’ve told me this was the end!”
This was the third time Mandy told me this was the end.
Mandy: “At the end, we find out there’s a necklace left at the crime scene-a shell on a string- something [Kya] had given to ‘the football person’ (Chase).
Me: “And that’s the end.”
Mandy: “The book ends where [Kya] dies at an old age after a happy life. Eventually, her husband (Tate) finds a box with the shell necklace from [Chase]. So the question is...did she do it, the murder?”
Me: “Did she?”
Mandy: “I think so. Probably.”
Me: “So this book began about a girl who grew up with a messed up and absent family, and it ends with her probably murdering someone.”
Me: “That’s a good book.”
I got Mandy to laugh this time. I had won.
Me: “An obvious comedy.”
No laughter from Mandy this time.
Mandy: “She obviously had a hard life. You’re reading the book thinking there’s no way it’s this girl, but you never know.”
Me: “If you had to rate this book from one to ten…”
Mandy: “Maybe an eight.”
Me: “And if you had to describe this book with one adjective, what would it be?”
Mandy: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Okay, that’s your adjective!”
Again she was not amused.
Mandy: “In a way I felt like the book wasn’t as good as it could have been. It was somewhat hard to believe.”
Me: “So what’s your adjective?”
Mandy: “A little hard to believe.”
Me: “So we’ll stick with ‘I don’t know.’”
Mandy: “Sure. But I guess for most books you have to suspend your beliefs in order to be in their story.”
Me: “This is true. And if you could recommend this book to someone, who would that be?”
I pointed to a nearby sign with the name ‘Teri’ on it.
Mandy: “Sure, Teri. But she already read it.”
Me: “And if I interviewed Teri about this book, would your stories match?”
Mandy: “Probably close. But she would probably remember the characters’ names.”
And there we have it–the first book review in full.