Goodreads: Where the Crawdads Sing
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark. But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world–until the unthinkable happens.
Friends, I loved this book so much. I’m so glad that I finally read it because in my opinion, it is worth all the hype around it! I have to say though that I can understand those who said that they didn’t love it or DNF’d it. Even though I’m obviously not surprised that this book received so much praise because I really loved it, it’s not the typical “fast-paced” novel that normally receives so much love in the book sphere.
“Sometimes she heard night–sounds she didn’t know or jumped from lightning too close, but whenever she stumbled, it was the land who caught her. Until at last, at some unclaimed moment, the heart-pain seeped away like water into sand. Still there, but deep. Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.”
Where the Crawdads Sing is a deeply atmospheric, coming-of-age love story/murder mystery set in the 50s-70s, in the marsh land along the North Carolina coast. Through Delia Owens’ writing, the richness of the marsh and its surroundings that teem with creatures big and small, in the water, on land and in the sky, fully come to life. The story is quite heavily descriptive and full of metaphoric prose about nature that it sometimes reads like a love letter to nature itself. As I mentioned above, I see why people would find it boring or just couldn’t get into it because the descriptive prose made it a slow read and often quite dense. When I started I also wasn’t sure whether I’d love it, but it honestly didn’t take too long for me to realize just how quickly I sped through the chapters and how much I was looking forward to picking it back up again when I had to put it down. Owen’s writing was so captivating and poetic.
The story follows Kya or “The Marsh Girl” as she’s known to the townspeople of Barkley Cove. Abandoned by her family at the age of 10, Kya is left to fend for herself in the small shack that was her family’s isolated marsh home. She relies on the marsh and the sea to provide her a means for survival, and spends as much time exploring the natural land and begins collecting feathers, shells, and other special artifacts. Over time, she meets a boy, who teaches her how to read and write, brings her biology books and poetry, explores the marsh with her, and shows her what it’s like to not be lonely, and to love. But when promises are broken, she closes off her heart and retreats to her isolation, although her desperation to be in another person’s company sends her straight into the arms of Barkley Cove’s darling, who is a notorious ladies’ man. Just as with the other disappointments in her life, things don’t turn out the way she’d hoped and years later, when this man is found dead, she finds herself the primary suspect in his murder trial.
“Please don’t talk to me about isolation. No one has to tell me how it changes a person. I have lived it. I am isolation,” Kya whispered with a slight edge.”
This book was beautiful and heartbreaking. Kya’s solitude and her loneliness was such a raw and desperate emotion that was deeply woven into her storyline. Her character was so pure, sweet and smart, and completely misunderstood. I cried, I laughed, I loved and I rooted for Kya to survive. To read of her abandonment by everyone who was supposed to love her, because they thought she was too wild or untamed for civilized society, was so heartrending; I often wanted to reach through the pages and scoop little Kya up to give her the love she needed. But her character’s strength and resilience was awe-inspiring. That she was able to make a life for herself and to overcome so many barriers in her way to find success made me love her character even more. Although Kya didn’t have many interactions with people, most of the characters who came into her life, especially Tate, Jumpin’, Mabel, and even Jodie, stole my heart just as much as she did. Even though some of them made pretty awful decisions when they were younger, they gave and showed her the love, respect and appreciation she deserved. I was thrilled when they proved they were there to stay in her life no matter what.
While the ending had a bit of a twist, I wasn’t really surprised by it (not necessarily in a bad way). I think I always felt that I knew the truth of what happened and that’s why it wasn’t shocking. Also, I don’t know how else I would’ve liked for this book to end, so I was quite satisfied with it. I loved how the title was woven into the storyline several times and kept coming back, and how the cover is a perfect representation of the book. I honestly would recommend this to everyone because I loved it so much, but I do know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. That said, I can’t wait to read more from Delia Owens and I can’t believe this was her debut! It’s absolutely stunning. Definitely a strong contender for my top read this year!
Have you read Where the Crawdads Sing? Did it live up to the hype for you?
Let me know in the comments and let’s have a little chat 🙂