A friend of mine gave me this book and I’m so glad she did! Where the Crawdads Sing is a sensational debut novel that has everything I need in a book – survival, personal growth, romance, mystery.
Kya is born into a dysfunctional, poor, and abusive family on the North Carolina coast. Kya has seen her older siblings leave one by one, then her mother walks out the door, and eventually, Jodie leaves as well. All of them choosing to walk away from the marsh they grew up in order to escape their abusive father. Six-year old Kya finds herself abandoned and alone, fending for herself. Her knowledge of life, hunting, and weather in the marsh allow her to survive on her own, finding companionship among the gulls, deer, shells, and other creatures of the marsh. Kya is forced to go to school for one day, where she is laughed at and realizes that she is different and will not fit into ‘regular’ life at Barkley Cove. Her cleverness and elusiveness keep her out of school, while her education continues throughout her life in the marsh. And her rare sightings in town along with her untamed beauty make her alluring to some of the local boys.
After a young boy teaches her how to read and leaves old textbooks with her, Kya begins to catalog and document items like feathers and shells from the marsh. Her detailed collection turns out to be more than a hobby; it ends up being what allows her to pass her knowledge of the creatures in the marsh onto the town that shuns her in a series of books that saves the marsh from being developed. And after the town’s favorite son, Andrew, is found dead, it ends up being a trip to see her publisher that saves her from conviction and a certain execution for the crime.
Delia Owens’ book has had mixed reviews. I have talked to people who said that they could not get into this book. It did take me a couple of chapters to get vested in the story, but after that I could not put the book down. The chapters alternate from Kya’s childhood in the 1950’s and the year Andrew is found dead, 1969. There were times that I struggled with the jumps in time, but Owens paints a vivid story of Kya’s broken and detached life that readers will not want to end.
Where the Crawdads Sing is a charming story that is fulfilling and compelling to read. This a perfect gift for the reader in your life!