TITLE: Where the Crawdads Sing AUTHOR: Delia Owens GENRE: fiction PUBLISHER: Putnam Books YEAR: 2018 PAGE COUNT: 368
Where the Crawdads Sing is about a girl named Kya who is abandoned by her family to grow up alone in a North Carolina marsh. Following Kya from childhood through her early twenties, the book alternates between Kya’s present day in the 50s-60s and 1969 when a young local hotshot is found murdered. Everyone immediately suspects Kya, the so-called “marsh girl,” who has spent her whole life living off the land and fending for herself. As Kya grows up and becomes an expert on the earth and wildlife around her, she struggles to let down her guard and trust the people who inhabit the world outside her marsh, despite knowing they may be the key to her happiness and survival. This book is a love letter to nature, girlhood, and vulnerability.
I’m just gonna say it—this might be the best book I’ve ever read. People have been recommending it to me since it came out two years ago and for some reason I kept shrugging it off, but I am so, so glad I finally picked it up. I don’t even know where to start in reviewing it.
My favorite thing about this book is Kya’s connection to the land and her resourcefulness. She makes me long for a world where everyone slows down, takes a breath, and appreciates and respects the world we live in. Granted, this book takes place before cell phones and the internet so I know most people don’t want to live as off the grid as Kya does, but I kind of do. This book makes me want to live a simpler, more minimalistic life.
I know I’m romanticizing Kya’s situation, though. She grows up in complete poverty with an abusive father before being completely abandoned. The trauma there is undeniable and I think the author does a great job of showing how this pain weaves its way into who Kya is.
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Kya’s growth over the course of the book is done really well and I loved watching her come into her own. She’s wild and free and feels her feelings with everything she has. She wasn’t raised in a society that taught self-consciousness or told her to shrink herself down to make others comfortable. As she grows up, she sees other people affected by these messages, but she always stays true to who she is, while also taking the time to learn and go outside her comfort zone. The way she understands her worth and her power is astounding and I can see her being remembered as one of the great literary heroines.
This book truly had me guessing until the end and the way Owens finishes this book is genius. My mouth opened in awe as I wrapped my brain around what had happened. This book is so smartly done and structured. The writing itself is beautiful and the way things are revealed is just so, so smart. I can’t even form more eloquent sentences to describe it.
All I can say is read this book! It has left an impression on me that I don’t think will fade for a long time.
You can buy Where the Crawdads Sing at your local bookstore or online at Bookshop.org!
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