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Waiting for the Night Song

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A moving 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.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published January 12, 2021

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Julie Carrick Dalton

6 books235 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 634 reviews
Profile Image for Theresa Alan.
Author 10 books1,012 followers
January 12, 2021
This is an interesting book in that it’s a literary novel with some suspenseful sections. It’s a story about immigrants and anti-immigrant sentiment and about folks who care about the environment and those who benefit by pretending no climate change is happening.

Cadie Kessler is an entomologist trying to get her research showing that a beetle is wreaking havoc on the forests of New England, causing the trees to dry up and die and thus become perfect fuel for devastating forest fires. When her childhood friend Daniela calls her up saying she has to come home because their long-held childhood secrets are threatening to surface with severe consequences for several people at risk.

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this novel.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,171 reviews616 followers
December 29, 2020
Told in two time lines, this novel tells of an event that happened to two young girls enjoying their summer in the New Hampshire woods and the ripples it caused down the years for those involved.

Eleven year old Cadie is the girl at the heart of the book. An unusual girl without many friends, she loves nature and the roaming the woods so her summer friendship with Danielle spent exploring the creek in a boat and picking blueberries to sell is idyllic. On their excursions, they meet a boy they call the Summer Boy staying with his uncle, and secretly start leaving books on his pier for him to read. That is until something happens which ends their summer and haunts them all for years.

Twenty six years later, Cadie receives an urgent call from Danielle to return to the town where she used to live to help her. Cadie is now an ecologist, studying the connection between insects that infest trees and their connection to wildfires as the climate changes and more and more species are threatened. On top of the drought and farm foreclosures in Cadie's old hometown, tempers are also running hot over the influx of illegal immigrants working as cheap labour. Like the tinder box dry forest, Cadie and Danielle's secret, Cadie's career and the town's resentment are set to explode.

This is an enjoyable mystery embedded in a background of climate change and illegal immigration. Cadie's childhood running free in the woods is one that few experience these days but will remind readers of endless, lazy summer days spent with friends outdoors enjoying the simple pleasures of nature. The writing is rich in the sounds and smells of the forest and of the special bond between childhood friends. A very assured debut novel.

With many thanks to Forge Books and Netgalley for a copy to read
Profile Image for Julie (JuJu).
610 reviews190 followers
February 11, 2021
With such a beautiful cover and enticing description, I had high hopes for this one. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, but it wasn’t the unputdownable read I craved. It did have a very satisfying ending, and some interesting portions. But it drug on in too many spots. And there was too much repetitive information.

I struggled with rating this book. Some portions were a solid 4, but I considered not finishing it during the slower parts. I usually read thrillers, so I don’t think there was enough excitement to keep me engaged. But anyone who enjoys women’s fiction should find it entertaining.

Cadie is an entomologist and her talk of pine beetles and Colorado were the main items that kept me reading. The story is told in past and present, with the past being far more interesting.

Thank you to Edelweiss, Julie Carrick Dalton and Forge Books, for this free digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!

My Rating: 3 ⭐️’s (not enough excitement for me)
Published: January 12, 2021 by Forge Books
Pages: 336
Recommend: Yes, for anyone who enjoys Women’s Fiction

@ForgeReads @edelweiss_squad
#NoRulesJustThrills #InExchangeForReview #WaitingForTheNightSong #BookReview #WomensFiction #DebutNovel
Profile Image for MimiMaybeMiriam.
4 reviews3 followers
March 4, 2020
@juliecdalton has written a winner folks!

She has captured the youthful belief in the possible that comes with our first friendships and mixed it with the woodsy, sweet, metallic scent of New England's secret lakes to create a mystery fueled by today's most pressing issues. The careful weaving of budding emotions with the natural tapestry of the changing New Hampshire environment is skillful and I must say, enveloping.

The way Dalton portrays the land and its richness is a gift to the reader who wants to feel immersed in a setting. Readers will find themselves nostalgic for the same endless summer days before things changed that main character Cadie wishes for as she revisits familiar coves and trails in fire kissed Maple Crest, New Hampshire. With an obvious passion for the environment, immigration rights and the people who make our small towns special, Dalton has written a dynamic story with a unique voice I hope to hear more from in the future.

I'm so honored to have gotten to read this early copy and to have watched Julie Carrick Dalton on part of her journey. 2021 is too long to wait to share this blueberry laden book with the public!!
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
2,039 reviews320 followers
February 19, 2022
I enjoyed this amazing read that is delivered in dual time lines of “Present Day” and “That Summer”. This is a book that has a lot of themes within this beautiful story; a coming-of-age tale about childhood friendships, love of books, the love of nature and the environment, a murder mystery thriller, and issues of undocumented immigrants - beautifully written in the book.

Cadence Kessler is an entomologist studying the connection of beetles and the infection of pine trees resulting in forest fires. This love of nature stemmed from her idyllic childhood spent outdoors in a boat on a lake picking berries with her best friend Daniela whose parents are immigrants from El Salvador. Caddie and Daniela meet a young orphan boy whom they have made friends with and shared their love of books and reading.

An unfortunate incident left Caddie with a secret she must keep buried and silent even from her best friend. A phone call in the present day, and police investigation brings Caddie back home to deal about that unfortunate day many years ago.

This was an immersive and timely read about childhood lost, first loves, secrets we keep to protect those we love, fighting for what we believe in for the love of nature and the environment, understanding of immigrants and their struggles for a better future in a poignant and powerful story. Beautifully paced and well written, Dalton delivered a stunning debut. I was mesmerized and related to the characters and their sacrifices. Very well done!!
Profile Image for Pamela Loring.
27 reviews
July 6, 2020
A bucolic summer, a close friendship, escapades picking blueberries on a New Hampshire lake: life seems so simple, but beetles are quietly undermining the health of the forest, and the ugly machinations of racism are becoming more and more apparent. Waiting for the Night Song uncovers the impact of long-term social injustice, racism and climate change on a family, a friendship, and a future, illustrating how everyday decisions can impact our world, and the importance of finding a path that offers hope for change.
Profile Image for Bkwmlee.
383 reviews252 followers
January 18, 2021
This was another one of those books that I found difficult to fit neatly into a single genre. While the timeline was a bit ambiguous (the chapters alternated between “that summer” and “present day”), there was a strong contemporary fiction vibe with many of the issues explored in the “present day” narrative -- climate change, illegal immigration, racism, politics vs science, etc. – mirroring so closely with so many “hot-button” issues that we as a society are dealing with currently (and have been at the forefront of discussions the past few years). Having said that, there was also a mystery / thriller component to the story that overlapped both timelines, with “the truth” about the defining event that occurred in the past eventually being revealed in the present.

From a genre perspective, I felt that the contemporary piece was quite solid overall, which I guess shouldn’t be too surprising given the author Julie Carrick Dalton’s background as a journalist. This was definitely apparent in the extensive detail with which Dalton was able to present the events around the climate crisis as well as the complexities of the immigration discussion. In all honesty, I personally have not paid much attention to the climate change discussion, I’m not a “science-y” person and a lot of the explanations out there about the topic seem to go over my head — but the way Dalton presented the topic, through the fictional story of Cadie (who later grows up to be an entomologist) and her best friend Daniela, the childhood adventures they have in the forests surrounding their properties, the challenges that arise nearly 30 years later, etc., helped provide some clarity about the climate crisis that I had a struggled to understand reading about the topic via other means. Of course, there’s a lot I still don’t understand about the topic (and probably never will), but the fact that I was able to comprehend as much as I did speaks to the power of fictional story-telling in helping us understand real-life events and situations.

With all that said, what didn’t work as well was the mystery / thriller aspect of the story. I felt that the attempt to craft a compelling thriller was a bit weak, as the plot points were predictable and too easy to figure out. In fact, I actually was able to guess “the truth” quite early on, so when it came time for the big reveal, the surprise element was no longer there. Also, some of the events meant to “explain” the mystery felt a bit forced — as I was reading, it became obvious to me that the strongest parts of the story were those not having to do with the “mystery” thread.

Overall, this was a good story with well-drawn characters. I especially appreciated how the author explored modern day issues in a way that was both respectful and approachable. Of course, no story is perfect and as much as I liked the approach the author took, I also felt that, at times, the various “big topics” covered here were competing with each other for space — especially in the “present day” timeline, the writing was a bit uneven in that there would be large sections about the climate issue, about science and politics, but those parts felt randomly inserted and separate from the other threads. This did affect the flow a little in my opinion, but not to the point of negatively impacting the story.

I’m glad I read this one, as the story was a timely one and I learned things I wasn’t expecting. As this was Dalton’s debut, I look forward to seeing what she brings to the table next.

Received print ARC from Forge Books
Profile Image for Leslie Teel.
2 reviews1 follower
July 6, 2020
Part thriller, part ecological warning, Waiting for the Night Song is a beautiful story of friendship, racism, and the natural world...impossible to put down, it will stay with you. I can't wait to read Julie Carrick Dalton's next books!
Profile Image for Faith.
1,843 reviews516 followers
January 19, 2021
This book attempted too much - ecology, entomology, coming of age romance, immigration and murder. I found it both jumbled and boring. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Barrie Kreinik who read everything with an annoying urgency in her voice.
Profile Image for Teresa.
489 reviews126 followers
February 10, 2021
Waiting for the Night Song, the debut novel of Julie Carrick Dalton, is a story of childhood best friends, the sweetness of long summer days of freedom and exploration, but also of ugly secrets and the kind of trauma that shapes a child’s personality forever. This author knows how to wield her pen; her words are beautiful and compelling. The story of going home to make amends turns into a fight for social injustice as well as a battle to save the magnificent forests of New Hampshire. A lot was going on, and at times I had trouble keeping up. I wavered for a while about how I felt about the book, but the author won me over about halfway through. Her lovely descriptions of lazy summers and sweet friendships reminded me of so many sentimental childhood summers of my own. The book is well worth reading, and I thank NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read it. I gave it three and ½ stars, rounded up to four.
Profile Image for Rachel.
Author 2 books421 followers
May 18, 2020
A killer debut that tackles love, racism and even climate change. Waiting for the Night Song will leave you breathless and wanting more. Congratulations, Julie!
Profile Image for Ingrid.
1,208 reviews50 followers
June 20, 2022
Niet zo interessant als de cover doet hopen.

Not as interesting as the cover makes you hope.
Profile Image for Michelle.
602 reviews453 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
January 11, 2021

So this is not a permanent DNF, but rather (I hope), temporary. I am having a great deal of trouble concentrating on this book since the events of last Wednesday, 01/06/21. All I want to do is doomscroll and watch endless hours of news. So I want to caution anyone who reads this, that it may not be the fault of the book that this is going in the DNF pile.

However, I do want to add that I'm past page 100 and I find myself skim reading. This usually isn't a good sign. So, I'm going to set it aside for a while and see if I can get back to it when my brain has calmed down a little and give the book another shot.

"Review Date": 01/11/2021
Publication Date: 01/12/2021
August 4, 2020
When I was reading this book, I thought how much it reminded me of the writing in Where the Crawdads Sing, which I also loved. The writing is so beautiful and descriptive, you feel like you are there seeing the scenery before you. Lots of great discussion topics for a book club for sure. I can't wait for my two book clubs to read this book!
17 reviews3 followers
September 21, 2020
This took me a little while to get into but once I reached about 30% read, I couldn’t put it down! Really well written addressing illegals status in the US and climate change with plenty of personal drama to keep the reader hooked. Really enjoyed reading it!
Profile Image for Nancy McFarlane.
599 reviews114 followers
September 29, 2020
If you only read one book this year, this should be the one. It really puts many current issues such as climate change, immigration, and racism into a perspective you can feel personally by immersing yourself into the story and identifying with the characters in the book.

Waiting for the Night Song is a lyrical and amazing story about nature and what will happened to it if we continue to ignore climate change. It is the story of wonderful, productive and caring people who live in fear because of immigration laws, it is a story about childhood trauma and the effect it has on the three children involved, it is a story about determination and doing what you believe is right regardless of the consequences, and above all else it is a heartfelt story about family and friendship and just how far and how many lies one will tell, or how many secrets one will keep to protect them. Everyone who loved Where the Crawdads Sing should put this at the top of their list.

My favorite quote from the book: "When someone says you're overreacting, but you know you're right, keep reacting until it's over."
Profile Image for Mary  BookHounds .
1,301 reviews1,783 followers
January 14, 2021
There is no pausing while reading this story about two childhood friends with a dark shared secret and the impact that it makes on their adult lives.  I could not put this down once I started.  It is a slow build with Cadie who is a nature fanatic as a child and she developed into a career.  Now she is an entomologist and tracking a pine beetle that is destroying trees in Colorado and takes her back home to the forests of New Hampshire.  As she directs a clear cut to a forest near her hometown to prevent fire, she gets a text from her former BFF, Daniela.  

The story is told in flashbacks to their childhood and what happened in that forest that will now come to light in devastating ways as they try to solve the mystery surrounding it.  I know, vague, but I really don't want to give away anything since it is so beautifully written.  Everything just flows perfectly and I really enjoyed this one.  It is well-paced and there are unnecessary words. 
301 reviews
November 23, 2020
With so many positive comments to make, it’s hard to know where to start. Julie Dalton puts words together in such a way it’s easy to visualize both setting and characters. The reader is transported to the forests of New Hampshire and feels a oneness with young Cadie and Daniela as they canoe the waters and explore the woods around their homes. One feels their dread and fear when tragic events occur. I could quote many passages from the book that I particularly liked, but I’ll start with this one:
“ A muggy breeze poured through the oaks and maples and pines, carrying the iridescent taste of fear across the shallows of the cove, beyond the vastness of the lake, and up into the mountains where the broken fragments of Cadie’s childhood took refuge in the fissures- and waited.”
The book goes back and forth between the friendship of Cadie and Daniela as young teens where a tragedy occurs causing a rift in their friendship to twenty-five years later when a body is found and the tragedy is revisited, causing Cadie to return to her hometown.
In the intervening years, Cadie has become an entomologist, linking bark beetle infestation to forest fires and also tackling issues of climate change with its effect on birds in particular. This gives author Dalton an avenue to include climate change as one of the areas for discussion in the book. Other themes in the book include immigration laws, race, and prejudice since character Daniela and her family are illegal immigrants from El Salvador. The author ties this all in well with friendship, family, and maturing being other themes.
Even though at times I wanted to race through parts of the book wondering what lay ahead for Cadie, Daniela, and others, this is a book to be read slowly appreciating the author’s use of language to create a picture. The portion below is from the last chapter in the book.
“All the other creatures had fled. The mice, spiders, crickets, squirrels. The silence they left behind hurt. The owl sat on a charred branch. Its home had been in these woods. Its mottled brown and amber stood out in stark contrast to the black and gray backdrop. Exposed without camouflage, the great bird blinked at Cadie and pulled its square head lower into its shoulders. Its whole body shuddered. As if shaking off a bad memory. The owl launched itself into the air. Time to start over. The only sounds in the entire forest were the slow flap of wild wings and the pounding of Cadie’s heart.”
I think many people would enjoy WAITING for the NIGHT SONG. I appreciate receiving my copy from BookishFirst and author Julie Carrick Dalton.

November 8, 2020
Do not miss this opportunity to be swept away by the engrossing story of Cadie. “Waiting for the Night Song” carries a true appreciation and respect for our environment and the people who carry it with them.
If you are feeling a little more settled these days, and hunkering down at home more as the seasons change, YOU MUST ADD THIS BOOK TO YOUR LIST!
I was fortunate to get an early copy and read the book in a day!!
Profile Image for Cindy Burnett (Thoughts from a Page).
565 reviews981 followers
January 27, 2021
Dalton’s poignant and beautiful debut captivated me from the start. Alternating between the past and the present, Waiting for the Night Song follows Cadie Kessler, an entomologist and forestry researcher focused on studying the pine bark beetle in New Hampshire. Her goal is to prove that the beetle is present in the state and destroying pines similar to the devastation it wrought in California and Colorado. As the book opens, Cadie is drawn home to help a childhood friend confront the long-held secret that the duo covered up several decades ago. Dalton creates a magnificent sense of place bringing the New Hampshire forest to life while tackling tough and highly relevant issues such as the pine bark beetle, climate change and racism. Waiting for the Night Song is a fabulous addition to the growing genre of climate-focused fiction.

Want to hear more from Julie about this book? Listen to my podcast interview here: https://www.thoughtsfromapage.com/62. For more book reviews and book conversation, check out my Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/thoughtsfro....
Profile Image for Amy.
367 reviews26 followers
August 22, 2020
Netgalley ♥️ Cadie is getting samples for research but could get arrested for trespassing. The forest is at risk of a fire. There are studies of how a beetle is effecting a rare bird and causing fires. I liked cadies research . Daniela messages Cadie and a long forgotten night from childhood might come back to haunt her. I was hooked from the beginning. I liked reading about Cadies childhood with Daniela . Cadie wants to tell the truth about what happened with Daniela but it could cost her career. I liked the story of Garrett the young boy Daniela and Cadie met long ago. I liked how Garrett reappeared and tied to trauma of what happened. I loved the characters especially Cadie. I really like Sal.
Profile Image for Kasey LeBlanc.
Author 1 book10 followers
November 14, 2020
After reading the preview for Julie Carrick Dalton's Waiting for the Night Song, I was so pleased I had won a copy because I needed to know what happened next! I've really struggled to focus on books these past 8 months or so, and so I was so pleased to find that this was a book that not only held my attention, but compelled me to keep reading.

In a year that began with the wildfires in Australia and continued with the fires on the west coast of the US, (plus a sprinkle of murder hornets in the middle for good measure!), and in a November where it snows one weekend in New England and is 77 degrees the next, Julie's cli-fi book is a too timely reminder of what is at stake for our world if we don't take our changing environment seriously.

But lest you think this book is only about the climate, there's truly so much more. Julie has created a wonderful cast of characters whose connections to one another, to their town and their woods and their waters, to their communities, and to the traumas they carry will stay with you long after you've turned the last page. So many times I wanted to stop and linger over a particularly gorgeous sentence or phrase, only to find myself pulled away by a plot that compelled me to keep reading. I especially loved the way that Julie captured the magic and wonder of childhood--best friends and secret pacts, long summer days exploring in the woods, the way that the books you read as a kid are some of the most formative tales you'll ever experience.

Do yourself a favor and pick this book up when it is released in January 2021!
Profile Image for Susan Peterson.
1,562 reviews252 followers
January 7, 2021
Waiting for the Night Song is a riveting book that transcends genres. This compelling novel is a coming of age novel for its main character, which takes place when Cadie is only 11; the present -day timeline takes place 27 years later—and she is still haunted by events from her childhood. The characters in this book are complex, harboring secrets and living with the consequences of decisions made years ago, There are many mysteries that unfold in this story, with shocking revelations, and all of them with far-reaching repercussions, decades later. Many timely issues are discussed, including global warming and immigration. This is a very powerful debut novel, and I look forward to more books from the author.
Profile Image for Rachel McKenny.
Author 1 book183 followers
January 29, 2021
A forester with a secret from her childhood— which can’t help but catch up with her. Cadie spend her youth running around in the woods with her friend Daniela, but after witnessing something terrible, everything in their lives changed.

I loved the environmental themes in this book and the last fifty pages begged me to read straight through. An interesting debut!
Profile Image for Addison Armstrong.
Author 2 books233 followers
December 16, 2020
I read this book in a single day. I was too enthralled to put it down! The author manages to create both an intriguing, fast-paced mystery and also a compelling call to action for environmental and social justice. I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it!
Profile Image for Jordan (Jordy’s Book Club).
374 reviews17.7k followers
January 12, 2021
QUICK TAKE: I saw a lot of comparisons of this book to WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING, but ultimately this one fell a little flat for me. I had trouble investing in the central mystery and the relationship dynamics between the characters just wasn't strong enough to keep me motivated to turn pages. The author also tries to include some social justice issues (climate control) that also fell flat for me and ended up taking me out of the story.
Profile Image for The Sassy Bookworm.
3,361 reviews2,304 followers
January 23, 2021
I enjoyed this one a lot.

It's been compared to Where the Crawdads Sing, a book that I thought was amazing, and I can see why people feel that way. It had the same atmospheric, lush richness that Crawdads had. However, this book fell just a little short of greatness for me. It tackles some very relevant and heavy topics (climate change, illegal immigration, racism), and I felt it got a little "preachy" at times. I also had a few issues with Daniela and her mother. They just rubbed me the wrong way, so it was hard for me to care 100% about their situation.

That said, overall this was a fantastic read. Definitely worth your time and gets two strong thumbs up from yours truly. 👍👍
Profile Image for Lainey Cameron.
Author 1 book180 followers
January 11, 2021
If you’re a nature fan, or just enjoy fabulous lyrical writing with scenery descriptions so vivid you can feel yourself right there in the forest, you don’t want to miss this one!

Cadie Kesller, the main character, works as a forestry researcher, and her (and the author’s) passion for mother nature lights up the page. Cadie has spent decades trying to leave behind a traumatic incident from her childhood , subsequently shrouded in secrets, but at the start of the book, that secret is about to be exposed - and it’s colliding with a crucial career moment where she needs to fight for the future of her beloved forest.

What can I say? This is an example where the book is even better than the (gorgeous) cover. I savored every page because I was in awe of the skilled writing. Add a dose of mystery, along with climate intrigue and I loved every page.

The descriptions of the New Hampshire forests are startlingly good. You can feel the earth between your fingertips, the hard granite, the decay inside a tree. And pine for the forests and nature we are losing due to climate change.

I’m normally a fast reader, but this was a novel I read slowly, because I relished it so much. Not surprising that this book is on so many 2021 best of lists- it's well deserved!
Profile Image for Kathleen.
Author 2 books947 followers
January 11, 2021
In WAITING FOR THE NUGHT SONG, Julie Carrick Dalton has skillfully layered an intriguing murder mystery, a testament to the bonds of female friendship, and a timely examination of the innate horrors of climate change. As the compelling story reaches its fiery climax, Dalton’s complex and intelligent protagonist is forced to consider what pieces of the past are worth salvaging … and what she should let go.
Profile Image for Michael Zapata.
Author 1 book169 followers
October 20, 2020
Waiting for the Night Song is a singular, riveting portrait of persistence and friendship at the end of empire. Through tender prose and a thrilling story, Julie Carrick Dalton tracks the inescapable connectedness between inequity and the body politic, humankind and ecology, and hidden truths and memory. Dalton writes masterfully of an uncertain world that has already arrived.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 634 reviews

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