Dear Librarians: A Letter from Eileen Garvin, Author of Crow Talk

By Rachel Tran | January 30 2024 | NewsFrom the Author

I ransack public libraries, and find them full of sunk treasure.
—Virginia Woolf


Libraries I have loved.

The first library was a squat, unremarkable, 1960s-era building, but a treasure trove to my child eyes. Shelf after shelf of books I could borrow for free! At age six I received my first library card on thick, peach-colored paper (and immediately thereafter my first fines). I watched the librarian stamp the due date in the backs of those first books—an embarrassment of riches. By then, books were what I did: before school and after school and on weekends. I read in the car, in the bathtub, in the woods, and at the dinner table. I read pacing the cracked sidewalks on the way home from school. Books let me tune out the general chaos of our household. And a love of books was something my family always shared.

Another library was much grander than the first—elegant, ivy-covered, and brick—set on a sprawling green lawn on the perfect college campus. It had high ceilings, soaring windows, and wood-paneled rooms draped in silence. I loved the library, but I did not belong at that university. I was so homesick my first semester and homesick for a home I couldn’t return to, being grown. In that library, sitting with my sorrow, I found a way back to my childhood to write an essay for English class about a Halloween memory. I could smell the flesh of pumpkins and hear the voices of my family—difficult and beloved. That was my first experience of using writing to transform grief and loneliness into a different fabric—a bittersweet comfort.

More libraries. Libraries where I completed college coursework and studied for the GRE. Libraries where I searched for jobs, and libraries where I wrote syllabi for classes I taught. The library in my life now is so close to my house I can almost see it— a graceful building perched above the small downtown of Hood River, Oregon. When I first moved here—knowing nobody and working as a freelancer—the library was a haven. I’d work in comforting presence of strangers—retired people, students, and young moms with toddlers. I fell in love with my new home there and Hood River took the stage as I wrote my first novel, The Music of Bees.

During the pandemic, as a debut novelist unable to do an in-person tour, libraries rescued me. Librarians from around the country invited me to do virtual readings. They distributed books to patrons, promoted the events, and led invigorating discussions.

My second novel began then. “Do you have an idea for another book?” the librarians asked. And an image began to shimmer on the horizon of my mind. “Yes,” I’d say, as the story immerged, “But I can’t say much about it yet.” And now I can. I’m so pleased to say that my second novel, Crow Talk, will be published in April 2024.

Crow Talk centers on two women and a lonely little boy, who’ve all retreated to a remote alpine lake in the woods of Washington State, seeking solace. First, there’s Frankie O’Neill, a promising young ornithologist, who’s reeling from a rift with her mentor. Just down the bay is Anne Ryan, a talented Irish musician who’s grappling with the sudden muteness of her only child and the conflict it has brought to her marriage. And finally, there’s Anne’s son, Aiden, a curious five-year-old who’s retreated into silence for reasons only he understands. A chance encounter with an injured baby crow brings this trio together and an unlikely friendship blooms, allowing all three to forge a path towards healing, rediscovery, and joy.

Crow Talk wouldn’t have come be without the encouragement I received from librarians and library patrons over the last two years. I’m so grateful to the libraries and all they do to support writers like me.


Crow Talk
A Novel
Nationally bestselling author of The Music of Bees Eileen Garvin returns with a moving story of hope, healing, and unexpected friendship set amidst the wild natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.