Where the Crawdads Sing
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.
Author: Delia Owens | Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Rating: 4 / 5
“And just at that second, the wind picked up, and thousands upon thousands of yellow sycamore leaves broke from their life support and streamed across the sky. Autumn leaves don’t fall; they fly. They take their time and wander on this, their only chance to soar. Reflecting sunlight, they swirled and sailed and fluttered on the wind drafts.”
I’m a little late to the party on this book, but similarly to everyone else in the world, I thought Where the Crawdads Sing was beautiful, heartbreaking, and entirely worth reading. Delia Owens writes prose that cuts to the quick, leaves you aching for her characters, and opens your eyes just a little bit more.
The main character of the story is Kya. When she was a young child, her mother packed a back and left their unhappy home in the marshlands of North Carolina, fleeing a PTSD-suffering abusive husband. Shortly after, Kya’s older siblings all left as well. A few years later, her father left, too, and she lived in the marsh by herself from then on. She never went to school, she hunted for mussels to sell so that she could eat, and she hid from anyone who came near. The marsh became her mother and she fell head over heels in love with the animals, the nature, and the water.
That is, except for a boy who came and taught her to read. They fell in young love, but then he went to college. In his wake came Chase Andrews, who was drawn to her but also lived a playboy double life. Throughout this narrative, chapters jump forward in time to a few years later, when Chase Andrews was found dead. What happened to him?
One thing that I found really noteworthy about Kya’s story is how many times she needed to heal from the same wounds. She would accept that her mother is gone (or whatever heartbreak), and then need to re-accept it and re-accept it again. And I think that’s just so true to life.
I took a star off my review here because (controversial opinion) I didn’t love the ending. It’s hard to explain without spoilers, but I just think that Owens could have made some uncomfortable but brave choices that would have helped the book mean even more than it does in its current state. If you’ve read it, message me on Instagram and let’s talk about it.