Title: Where the Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
One Word Review: Buoyant
I read over ten other books while waiting for my name to make it to the top of this book’s library hold list. I’ve come to expect such waits from any book title recommended by Reese Witherspoon. The hype is often lost on me once I turn the final page. But Delia Owens deserves all the praise for this spectacular novel.
We meet six-year-old Kya Clark as her mother and siblings abandon her, leaving her to coexist with her abusive father in a shack in the North Carolina marshes. We are taken on a journey of Kya’s strength and resilience when her father also leaves. Among people taught to ostracize her for being poor and living in the marsh, the “Marsh Girl” finds valuable friends key to her survival.
But this story is more than a coming-of-age story. It’s also a murder mystery. How did a lifeless body end up in the marsh?
What I Liked Most
I fell in love with Kya and cheered her forward from start to finish. Owens beautifully illustrated the marsh and developed Kya’s character so flawlessly that I became a spirit floating above her. I darted into the trees with her at the sense of danger. The waves crashed against my face and left me freezing when emotion drove her to brave the fierce waters. Every action she took and every emotion she felt resonated deep in my imagination as I turned each page, which made Delia Owens one of the most talented writers I’ve ever encountered.
What I Didn’t Like
The first chapter opens with two boys finding a body in the marsh. For those like me who don’t always read the synopsis, this scene sets expectations that the book is a murder mystery first and a coming-of-age story second. So it’s a bit confusing when the dead body isn’t the main focus for most of the book’s first half. Solving the crime is more in the background because we need to become friends with Kya. The murder mystery is significant to the plot and to developing Kya’s character and understanding the culture she’s living in. You’ll be disappointed if you’re hoping this story will align with the typical crime-drama or mysteries unless you make it to the end. The ending is brilliant.
Should you read it?
I suggest adding this book to your reading list if you enjoy reading descriptive books that span multiple genres and focus on seeing how the main character responds to their environment. Or if you are a reader with an open mind who can appreciate what Owens has created with this story. As with any popular book, your high expectations might get in the way of loving this book.
But don’t just take my word for it. See what other readers thought:
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Last Updated: 5/11/2021