Waiting for the Night Song

Photo of Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton paperback ARC copy in the woods

Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton

Publisher: Forge
Publication Date: January 12, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
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Book Review

Waiting for the Night Song opens on present-day Cadie Kessler collecting samples of an invasive beetle in the woods of New Hampshire. Cadie, now an entomologist, has done her best to leave the past behind her. But when she receives a desperate call from her childhood friend Daniela Garcia, she begrudgingly returns to her hometown of Maple Crest, NH. Now both adults, Cadie and Daniela are forced to revisit the events of that summer and how they changed the course of both their lives forever.

Alternating between the present and twenty-five years in the past, Waiting for the Night Song tackles immigration, climate change, and close friendship. Although Waiting for the Night Song is told from the third person, the focus is limited to Cadie’s perspective. I loved the climate change aspect of the plot. Cadie is an entomologist for the University of New Hampshire. Her primary goal is to trace the migration of an invasive beetle, which she believes is linked to the catastrophic fires spreading through the area. 

I thought this was a beautiful story about secrets and what people will risk to keep them. The story carefully weaves immigration issues, climate change, murder, and friendship so seamlessly. Although this story is often classified as a thriller, I would disagree with that. Waiting for the Night Song is more contemporary or literary fiction. The book does include a bit of a mystery, but that’s only one component to the complex overall story. 

Thank you to Forge and BookishFirst for the review copy! All opinions are my own. 

Synopsis from Goodreads

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.

About the Author

Photo of author Julie Carrick Dalton from author's website
Author photo credit: Sharona Jacobs

Julie Carrick Dalton grew up in Maryland and on a military base in Germany. As an adult, she bounced around from Seattle to Dallas to Virginia, before finding her true home in Boston, where she has lived for more than twenty years. Her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, BusinessWeek, The Hollywood Reporter, Electric Literature, and other publications. She contributes to The Chicago Review of Books, DeadDarlings, and The Writer Unboxed. A Tin House alum and graduate of GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator, Julie holds a Master’s in Literature and Creative Writing from Harvard Extension School. She is a frequent speaker on the topic of writing fiction in the age of climate crisis. Mom to four kids and two dogs, Julie is a passionate skier, hiker, and kayaker. She also owns and operates an organic farm. Please excuse her dirty fingernails.


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