Waiting for the Night Song Summary and Reviews

Waiting for the Night Song

by Julie Carrick Dalton

Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton X
Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton
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Book Summary

A startling and timely debut, Julie Carrick Dalton's Waiting for the Night Song is a moving, brilliant novel about friendships forged in childhood magic and ruptured by the high price of secrets that leave you forever changed.

Cadie Kessler has spent decades trying to cover up one truth. One moment. But deep down, didn't she always know her secret would surface?

An urgent message from her long-estranged best friend Daniela Garcia brings Cadie, now a forestry researcher, back to her childhood home. There, Cadie and Daniela are forced to face a dark secret that ended both their idyllic childhood bond and the magical summer that takes up more space in Cadie's memory then all her other years combined.

Now grown up, bound by long-held oaths, and faced with truths she does not wish to see, Cadie must decide what she is willing to sacrifice to protect the people and the forest she loves, as drought, foreclosures, and wildfire spark tensions between displaced migrant farm workers and locals.

Waiting for the Night Song is a love song to the natural beauty around us, a call to fight for what we believe in, and a reminder that the truth will always rise.

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. What were your initial theories about the secrets Cadie and Daniela share? How did your impressions of the characters shift as more revelations were uncovered? In the end, who (or what) is ultimately to blame for those layers of deception?
  2. From the mountain pine beetle to Bicknell's thrush, what did the novel help you see in the intricately interconnected worlds outside your door?
  3. In chapter ten, Cadie and Daniela take a blood oath to live by the Poachers' Code, and they agree to use the code only for good. Re-read the code and discuss the wisdom as well as the potential risks in those ten rules.
  4. In what way are Garrett, Daniela, and Cadie all outsiders in their community? What does it mean to belong in their town? How do girls and ...

You can see the full discussion here. This discussion will contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about Waiting for the Night Song:

As you read the book's closing paragraph, what did you predict for the future of Cadie's world (and ours)?
I think there is hope. The forest will come back from the fire and Cadie has a chance to have a life now that the fear and burdens she has carried for years are gone. - scottishrose

Cadie and Piper have 2 different views of forest fires. Which perspective do you think is the best?
I think something in the middle. A forest fire is destructive but also results in new growth. But I also don't feel that it is a good idea to just let thousands of acres burn, with lives and homes, both human and animal being lost. - scottishrose

Cadie and Thea are willing to lose their jobs over attempts to quash their research. Yet science relies on public funding, which is tied to the attitudes and opinions of voters. What would it take to resolve that power struggle?
It seems to me that suspicion and mistrust of motives often seem to be underlying research. Until the belief that the power behind research is the greater good of the planet and its people, suspicions of political, financial, and personal gains will... - kdowney25

Cadie says, "When someone says you're overreacting but you know you're right, keep reacting until it's over." How does that wisdom come into play throughout the book?
Good point Amber! I definitely think it depends on the situation. People shouldn't necessarily double down on every single opinion they hold--I think openmindedness is such an important quality--but when someone has the research to back up their ... - rachelh

How do you generally feel about authors writing about experiences they have not lived through? Have you read any books by Latinx authors with similar themes or plots that you would recommend reading in tandem with this book?
I don't have a problem with it if the author has done their research. Maybe the author learns something in the process, maybe their readers do too. - scottishrose

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Media Reviews

"Contemporary ecological and immigration issues compound the well-paced mystery, making for a taut novel that builds suspense to the very end." - Publishers Weekly

"Julie Carrick Dalton's deftly constructed, urgent yet slow-burning debut novel reads like a warning from the frontlines of our rapidly deteriorating natural world." - Omar El Akkad, American War

"Both a timely and timeless literary mystery, Waiting for the Night Song is as seductive as it is smart, blending the allure of Julie Dalton's beloved rural New Hampshire setting with the dark undercurrents of a community's racial divisions and betrayals. This is a story of love, of home, of friendship and family, of a childhood's innocence and an adult's comeuppance, all of which are in the line of fire in this beauty of a page turner." - Michelle Hoover, award-winning author of Bottomland and The Quickening.

"Human nature clashes with Mother Nature in this riveting and heartbreaking coming of age story – – gorgeously written, and wonderfully told. With its combination of powerful themes and intensely immersive setting, fans of Delia Owens will swoon to find their new favorite author. A phenomenal debut!" - Hank Phillippi Ryan, award-winning author of The First to Lie

"Dalton writes masterfully of human relationship and the fraught relationship humanity has with ecology…put it on your lists NOW." - Michael Zapata, author of The Lost Book of Adana Moreau

"I marvel when I come across a book that is at once timely and timeless…It's a novel that burns–figuratively and literally–with sharp prose and uncommon wisdom. Do yourself a favor and have a look for yourself." - Peter Geye, award-winning author of Wintering

"Waiting for the Night Song is a beautiful book that is also a hell of a read. Complex characters, unforgettable setting, taut storyline, big ideas." - Ashley Shelby, author of South Pole Station

"Smart and searingly passionate, Dalton's absorbing mystery debut explores many timely issues including global warming, female friendships, childhood secrets, and the lengths we take to protect them - Waiting For The Night Song is an illuminating snapshot of nature, betrayal and sacrifices set in the evocative New Hampshire wilderness." - Kim Michele Richardson, award-winning author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

"A killer, gorgeous debut that tackles love, racism and even climate change. Waiting for the Night Song will break your heart, leave you breathless and wanting more." - Rachel Barenbaum, bestselling author of A Bend in the Stars

"Dalton weaves the vagaries of friendship, the wonder of the natural world, and the power of truth to create a powerful and unforgettable story." - Erica Ferencik, bestselling author of The River at Night and Into the Jungle

This information about Waiting for the Night Song was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Sonia Francis

The Weight Of Secrets
Never underestimate the power of words and storytelling from a debut author.
Waiting For The Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton shattered those doubts about this coming of age novel.

“Truth hides in fissures and hollows, In broken places and empty parts. It can be buried, crushed, or burnt, but the truth will always rise”. This opening line from this novel hooked me right in and did not let me go. By the end of chapter 1 that ended with: “ where they left him. Buried in the woods”. There was no turning back.
Told in alternating narratives between “that summer “ where the protagonist was a young girl and “ present day” where she has revisited her home town,
Marble Crest and as Cadie, the protagonist puts it: “the cracks and crevices”. So much has happened there: First love, friendship, oaths of bonds, lies, secrets, cover-ups and betrayals all makes for an edge of your seat heart shattering read that leaves you splattered in the most epic way.

The novel throws everything at you in a real way: climate change, anti-immigrants, foster systems, the abused and abuser , family bonds and the secrets within those bonds are all served up in this brilliant masterpiece of all the things one cherish.

One’s environment and caring for it and how we humans become the “canary In the coal mine“. The stigma applied to illegal immigrants not knowing about the
circumstances that led them to where they are. The question of family and if blood is really thicker than water? It is about what defines a person life - the present moment or their actions afterwards? And then there is the nostalgia of returning to ones childhood: “there had been so much magic in the forest of her childhood “. Cadie, the heroine of this story has deep roots in these forest (no pun intended), her research about the beetles destruction to the forest and hopes of saving it. Her story has echoes of “Where The Crawdads Sing” and of one’s connections to the land they grew up on and how it shapes them.

Most of all, at the core of this novel is the death of this town citizen and the accusations of who did it, who buried him, who is the accessory of the murder, who is covering up, and who really stands accused.

This is a soul provoking unstoppable tale of lies and deceit by all concerned and it will linger and etch in your memory. It truly will make you question the motives
of everyone around you. A superb engaging read. I cannot wait for Dalton's next book.

M Kassapa

Waiting for the Night Song
For a debut novel, it is beautifully written and a captivating story balancing climate change on one side and illegal immigration on the other, with the fulcrum a murder in which the perpetrator and the victim are inextricably bound. We think we know what happened and who committed this deadly act but as the story unwinds, we find that all our assumptions are erroneous. It's a courageous novel exploring important issues of our day and I highly recommend it.

Tired Bookreader

Good story; fair writing
The least favorite writing style of some is repetition of basic facts; it would appear the author is going for word count. Although the story was interesting, it was painful how slowly the plot moved along. It's not like the reader didn't figure out the ending relatively early.

The environmental concern was a refreshing back story, the only redeeming quality. This book will not be recommended by me. It was forgotten as soon as I finished.

Lynne Z

Not another metaphor
I found the plot and characters interesting, but every paragraph contained one or more metaphors. I got bogged down and definitely distracted by the figurative language.

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Author Information

Julie Carrick Dalton

Julie Carrick Dalton is a Boston-based journalist. Her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, BusinessWeek, The Hollywood Reporter, Electric Literature, The Chicago Review of Books, and other publications. She contributes to DeadDarlings, The Writer Unboxed, and GrubStreet's writer's blogs. Waiting for the Night Song is her debut novel. Her second novel, The Last Beekeeper, will be released in 2022.

Mom to four kids and two dogs, Julie also owns and operates a 100-acre farm. When she isn't writing or digging in the dirt, you can probably find her kayaking in New Hampshire or walking in the woods hunting for mushrooms.

More Author Information

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