Where the Crawdads Sing
By: Delia Owens
Fiction, Literary Fiction, Coming-of-Age
Published: August 14, 2018
From the Cover:
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet 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 touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
I would consider myself a pretty nostalgic person. I enjoy reminiscing on sweet memories and basking in the comforts of my childhood. I also feel deep ties to places; my memories of those places are burned into me, ready to be relived at the slightest of provocations: smells, tastes, sounds or feelings. This book was such a provocation. Reading this book was a blast of nostalgia: for the coast, for southern food, for southern people. There is such comfort in nostalgia, and I felt this book read like a dream. It is beautifully written–poetic and lyrical in nature. I found myself on multiple occasions savoring the descriptions of nature and food that are so unique to my home state.
Some of my deepest roots are here in North Carolina. I have spent time in every season on the coast, the sandhills, the piedmont, the foothills, and the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains. I also can clearly remember my grandmother in the kitchen preparing a classic spread: okra, collards, creamed corn, butter beans, ham biscuits, black eyed peas, deviled eggs. When this book collided with several of my own memories, I couldn’t help but smile. Nostalgia is a funny thing.
There are so many things I loved about this book, that I fear I might forget one. I loved that the plot weaved in a murder mystery (considering my love for thrillers, this was a given). I enjoyed the diversity of the characters and the way Owens maintained the diversity of North Carolinians in her novel. I treasured her exquisite descriptions of nature: big animals and small, plants, marsh, ocean and sky. I also appreciated Owen’s ability to show how we humans are resilient and can rise above our circumstances.
Some have complained that they don’t like this book because the plot is too unbelievable; that a young girl would be able to survive on her own–and evade child protective services–in a harsh environment and without much assistance. To these people I say, you missed the point of this book. Also, I have read so many accounts on the incredible spirit of humans that supersedes rational explanation that at this point, it would surprise me more if there wasn’t a child like Kya out there.
This coming-of-age novel is one I will carry with me for years to come. This book feels like a guyline to my childhood, my state, my heritage, my memories, my soul. I don’t know where I will be living in the years to come, but North Carolina will always have my heart. Thank you, Where the Crawdads Sing, for helping me remember.