I’m so excited to review this book. It wasn’t one that I was expecting to read, but a colleague very thoughtfully brought it me to work to lend, as they thought that I’d really enjoy it. Which was so thoughtful and lovely! This is my review of Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
Where the Crawdads Sing was published in 2018 and topped the 2019 New York Times Fiction Bestsellers for 27 consecutive weeks, which for Owens is a massive achievement alone. Reviews on the front and back of the book describe it as “unforgettable” and “vivid and original’ and a “rare achievement. When it comes to genre, it has a bit of everything, which another short review on the book captures as “painfully beautiful… At once a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature” from the New York Times Book Review. As I always do, I will add the synopsis below un-edited from what it is on the back of the book.
For years, rumours of the ‘Marsh Girl’ have haunted Barkley Cove, a quite town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kay opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.
Book follows the life and experiences of Kya Clark as she grows up. One day she wakes up to see her mother walk away from their home in the marsh, but she doesn’t stop to wave as she usually does. Days and weeks pass and she doesn’t return home. Slowly, one by one Kya’s siblings leave too, unable to cope with their fathers drinking and behaviour, leaving her alone with him. Eventually he leaves too. Leaving a young girl to fight for herself, learning how to make money, cook and clean. We follow her growth from child into teenager, how she forms unlikely relationships, receives kindness and help from neighbours and achieve amazing goals. The book jumps from the story line of Kya growing up to another story line of a criminal investigation after a local from the town is found dead in the marsh not too far from where Kya lives. This focus’ more on how people treated Kya, their assumptions and mistreatment of her, how they instantly think the worst because she was left to fend for herself, because she’s different.
This book is absolutely stunning. I fell in love with Kya so much. She is so resilient and strong. Even in the scariest moments with no guidance she persists. She at age 6 or 7 forages for way to make money to buy necessities to live and continuously expands on this. She doesn’t take being bullied at school and leaves and finds a way to educate herself. She falls in love and has her heart broken and still finds a way to learn to trust and love again. She is such an amazing character. She doesn’t let herself get walked all over, but she is also soft and gentle too. I love how she never hates her father or family for how they treated her or how they left. But she understands or at least tries too. She merely just misses them. She is such a pure character and so loveable. I also loved Jumpin’ and Mabel, I thought they were so kind and positive characters. They’re the kind of people that you would love to know.
This book contained so much emotion. I felt genuine sadness when Kya got hurt, I couldn’t help be happy and smile when she fell in love. I was completely absorbed and engrossed by this book. It takes you on a really emotional journey and touches upon so many topics that can be hard to broach such as stereotyping, racism, bullying, murder, wrongful convictions made by prejudice rather than conflicting facts. So much happens and all of it manages to kick you right in the feels. I am in awe by this book. Genuinely. I even think I am going to have to go out and buy my own copy so I can re-read it again in the future. I cannot praise this enough and I am so thankful to my colleague for bringing me this book to read! I would highly recommend!
The only bit that kind of got me down about the book was the ending, and without ruining it, or containing spoilers there is not much that I can say other than my 2 favourite characters did pass, but they all got their happy endings so in a way I’m happy with it but I’m still kind of upset by it. It was an ending that was very true to life, I suppose and it carried on making you feel. Amazing, gripping and equally as heart warming as it is heart breaking.
Star Rating/ 5