Dawn Marie Tucker
September 10, 2018 at 10:00 AM EDT
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Reese Witherspoon’s newest book club pick is taking readers to the wild.

On Thursday, Witherspoon announced her latest choice as Where the Crawdads Sing, the debut fiction novel from Delia Owens. The book is a heart wrenching coming-of-age story with a murder mystery twist set in a small North Carolina coastal town and the marshland where a young girl, Kya Clark, has survived on her own for years.

The novel is a fresh exploration of isolation and nature from a female perspective along with a compelling love story to boot.

“While there is a mystery and its an intense love story and it’s a courtroom drama, but really it goes much deeper than that. It is an exploration of human nature. I wanted to get to the raw core of human nature, and really I wanted to write a mystery that didn’t just ask the question, whodunit, but to ask why the culprit behaved as they did,” said Owens.

While Owens has had several successful nonfiction books about her long career as a wildlife scientist in Africa, she did not expect for her fictional debut to be cosigned by the Hollywood starlet.

“I was just so surprised. I was suspicious there was something afoot because the publishers were all excited but I found out — she announced it on her Instagram and I was so thrilled and overjoyed but mostly I just felt so grateful,” said Owens.

The author also reflected on what it means for her novel to be chosen for Witherspoon’s book club.

“You work so hard on a novel and… it takes years and years, and this story meant a lot to me and I wanted it to reach a lot of people. When someone like Reese Witherspoon puts her stamp of approval on it, it just means the world — [it means] everything to me.”

While Owens has not spoken to Witherspoon personally, she “would welcome that opportunity,” and although she spent 25 years of living in near isolation, and continues to live her life in near solitude, Owens is familiar with Witherspoon’s work and is a longtime fan.

“I’ve lived of this country for so many years and also I don’t see a lot of television, because I still live very remotely, I only see people about once a week, but I know her work very well and I just think she’s fabulous.”

Buy the book here.

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