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If you Liked Where the Crawdads Sing

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Did you enjoy Delia Owens' lush, atmospheric coming-of-age novel, Where the Crawdads Sing? Here are some other titles that you might enjoy that also feature interesting, sensitive characters set against vivid settings that play a major role in the story's telling.

Kingsolver, Barbara.
Prodigal summer

In this lush and beautiful novel, Barbara Kingsolver illustrates the delicate balance that exists in nature. Prodigal Summer weaves together three stories that take place in the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia. Deanna Wolfe, a wildlife biologist, watches the forest from her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin where she is caught off-guard by Eddie Bondo, a young hunter who disturbs her solitude, but also stirs her heart. Down the mountain, Lusa Maluf Landowski, a bookish girl who has recently become a farmer's wife, finds herself in a strange place where she is misunderstood, and then she must learn to save her land. Further down the road, elderly farmers argue about the role of pesticides in the maintenance of their crops. Over the course of one humid summer, the these characters find connections to each other as well as to the land they share.

O'Dell, Scott
Island of the Blue Dolphins

Scott O'Dell's Newbery Medal-winning classic is a gripping tale of survival, strength, and courage. Based on the true story of a Nicoleño Indian girl living alone on an island off the coast of California, Island of the Blue Dolphins has captivated readers for generations. On San Nicolas Island, dolphins flash in the surrounding blue waters, sea otter play in the vast kelp beds, and sea elephants loll on the stony beaches. Here, in the early 1800s, a girl named Karana spent eighteen years alone. Karana had to contend with the ferocious pack of wild dogs that killed her younger brother, constantly guard against Aleutian sea otter hunters, and maintain a precarious food supply. Her courage, self-reliance, and grit has inspired millions of readers in this breathtaking adventure.

Tallent, Gabriel.
My absolute darling

Fourteen-year-old Turtle Alveston roams the woods along the northern California coast. She wanders the creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands for miles. This expansive natural world gives her room to breathe as compared to her home life, where she has grown up isolated since her mother's death. She lives with her father Martin and attends school, though is careful to not let anyone get too close. Then Turtle meets Jacob, and her world changes. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the survival skills her father taught her. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption.

Vanderah, Glendy.
Where the forest meets the stars

After the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna Teale throws herself into her work from dusk to dawn, until her solitary routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious, barefoot child who turns up on her doorstep. The girl calls herself Ursa, and she claims to have been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. With concerns about the child's home situation, Jo reluctantly agrees to let her stay--just until she learns more about Ursa's past. Jo enlists the help of her reclusive neighbor, Gabriel Nash, to solve the mystery of the charming child. But the more time they spend together, the more questions they have. How does a young girl not only read but understand Shakespeare? Why do good things keep happening in her presence? Though the three have formed an incredible bond, they know difficult choices must be made. As the summer nears an end and Ursa gets closer to her fifth miracle, her dangerous past closes in. When it finally catches up to them, all of their painful secrets will be forced into the open, and their fates will be left to the stars.

Hannah, Kristin.
The great alone

Alaska, 1974. Ernt Allbright came home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes the impulsive decision to move his wife and daughter north where they will live off the grid in America's last true frontier. Cora will do anything for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown. Thirteen-year-old Leni, caught in the riptide of her parents' passionate, stormy relationship, has little choice but to go along, daring to hope this new land promises her family a better future. In a wild, remote corner of Alaska, the Allbrights find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the newcomers' lack of preparation and dwindling resources. But as winter approaches and darkness descends, Ernt's fragile mental state deteriorates. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own.

Finkel, Michael.
The stranger in the woods

In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life--why did he leave? what did he learn?--as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.

Lawson, Mary
Crow Lake

Luke, Matt, Kate and Bo Morrison are born in an Ontario farming community of only a few families. After their parents are killed in a car accident, the siblings must take care of each other. In this family bound together by loss, the closest relationship is that between Kate and her older brother Matt, who love to wander off to the ponds together and lie on the bank, noses to the water, studying the creatures just under the surface. The life in the pond is one that seems to go on forever, in contrast to the abbreviated lives of the Morrison parents. Matt becomes Kate's hero and her guide, as his passionate interest in the natural world sparks an equal passion in Kate. Matt, a true scholar, is expected to earn a university degree, until a dramatic event changes his course, and he ends up a farmer; so it is Kate who eventually earns the doctorate and university teaching position. Although a successful biologist, Kate feels an overpowering guilt for the sacrifices that Matt made for her. When she returns home with her partner for a family birthday, the siblings try to reestablish a connection, while revisiting bittersweet memories of the painful past. In this universal drama of family love and misunderstandings, Lawson combines deeply drawn characters, lyrical writing and a powerful description of the land.

 

Westover, Tara.
Educated

For readers of The Glass Castle and Wild, a stunning new memoir about family, loss and the struggle for a better future #1 International Bestseller Tara Westover was seventeen when she first set foot in a classroom. Instead of traditional lessons, she grew up learning how to stew herbs into medicine, scavenging in the family scrap yard and helping her family prepare for the apocalypse. She had no birth certificate and no medical records and had never been enrolled in school. Westover's mother proved a marvel at concocting folk remedies for many ailments. As Tara developed her own coping mechanisms, little by little, she started to realize that what her family was offering didn't have to be her only education. Her first day of university was her first day in school--ever--and she would eventually win an esteemed fellowship from Cambridge and graduate with a PhD in intellectual history and political thought.

Hannah, Kristin.
Magic hour

Dr. Julia Cates was one of the preeminent child psychiatrists in the country, but a scandal shattered her confidence, ruined her career, and made her a media target. When she gets a desperate call from her estranged sister, Ellie, a police chief in their small western Washington hometown, she jumps at the chance to escape. In Rain Valley, nothing much ever happens-until a girl emerges from the deep woods and walks into town. She is a victim unlike any Julia has ever seen: a child locked in a world of unimaginable fear and isolation. To heal this child, now called Alice, Julia will have to understand that she cannot work alone and must look to others-the people in the town she left long ago, the sister she barely knows, and Dr. Max Cerrasin, a handsome, private man with secrets of his own. Then a shocking revelation forces Julia to risk everything to discover the truth about Alice. In her most ambitious novel to date, Kristin Hannah delivers an incandescent story about the resilience of the human spirit, the triumph of hope, and the mysterious places in the heart where love lies waiting.

Krueger, William Kent.
Ordinary grace

The summer of 1961 finds thirteen-year-old Frank Drum living in small-town New Bremen, Minn. He and his younger brother, Jake, idolize their older sister, Ariel, a talented church organist who's also the "golden child" of their parents, WWII veteran and Methodist pastor Nathan and church music director Ruth. Nathan and Ruth befriend the accomplished musician Emil Brandt, a veteran left blinded by his service, who tutors Ariel in her music education. Meanwhile, Jake, who has a stutter, forms a close bond with Lise, Emil's deaf older sister and caretaker, while Ariel dates Emil's wealthy nephew, Karl. The Drums' peaceful existence is shattered, however, when Ariel fails to return from a late-night party. In the aftermath of her disappearance, Karl comes under suspicion, Ruth undergoes a crisis of faith, and dark secrets about New Bremen come to light. The small-town milieu is rendered in picturesque detail, accurate down to period-appropriate TV programs, for what becomes a resonant tale of fury, guilt, and redemption (Publishers Weekly).

Ivey, Eowyn.
The snow child


In this magical debut, a couple's lives are changed forever by the arrival of a little girl, wild and secretive, on their snowy doorstep. Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart -- he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone -- but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

Patchett, Ann.
State of wonder

Marina Singh is a research scientist at Vogel, a pharmaceutical institute in Minnesota. When one of her colleagues is reported to have died while following up on the progress of a field team based in Brazil, Marina is sent to the Amazon to uncover the truth of his death. She travels to Manaus, then down into the Amazonian delta, deep into the dense, dark, insect-infested jungle. The research team is looking into the development of a new miracle drug that could revolutionize Western society. A local tribe has the bark of a certain tree, it yields a substance which allows them to conceive late into middle age: many of the women are getting pregnant into their sixties and seventies. The problem is that the team is taking too long: they have been silent for two years, and Marina has been tasked to find out what is holding back their progress. The second problem is more serious: the team is being headed up by the daunting figure of Annick Swenson, an eminent and fiercely uncompromising scientist who was once Marina's colleague, and towards whom Marina has very complicated feelings. In this novel, amazing twists, surprises and moral decisions come together in a gripping adventure story and profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name of discovery and love.