384 pages ~ Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery
August 2018 ~ G.P Putnam’s Sons
My Rating: 4/5
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.
“Kya was bonded to her planet and its life in a way few people are. Rooted solid in this earth. Born of this mother.”
I am generally leery of overly hyped books, but when your big sister forcibly insists you read something for months at a time, you eventually give in. I am really glad that I finally listened because this book was like nothing I have ever read before. The natural world at the center of this book is remarkable. Owens’ love and affinity for the natural world came through on every page and it was as poetic as it was fascinating.
Biggest Highlight for me:
- Kya’s life is so rooted in the natural world of the marsh that she relates everything she sees in nature back to human behavior. Unlike most of us who have to relate to the natural world through human behavior, for Kya, it is the other way around. Nature teaches her first. She uses her knowledge of the marsh to try and better understand the choices that the people around her make: ie: the Vixen leaving her Kits, the male birds using their extravagant feathers to attract a mate, the female fireflies and the praying mantis attracting mates only to kill them. All of this was SO beautifully crafted.
- Owens has used her life as a Zoologist to layer a story that is rooted in the natural world but is also rooted in how we perceive that natural world. What do we really notice and try to understand nature? How much of humankind is reflected back to us from nature? How do our choices show who and what we really are? Are our choices primal or are they truly rooted in intellect? These are all questions that the book attempts to answer. This questioning never felt forced or heavy-handed. There were times that I found myself asking, “why do I need to read about the mating habits of fireflies.” But all of the information that Owens gives, comes into play at some point in the novel. Everything is very intentional and well placed. There were lots of “Ah Ha” moments where I finally saw the natural world the way Kya was observing it and how it was reflected back to her in human life.
The slight drawback for me: (Spoilers Beyond this point)
The only slight drawback for me was regarding the ending. I really loved the twist ending and I was completely shocked when it came. However, I didn’t feel that Kya killing Chase- plotting and executing such an elaborate story- was completely consistent with her character. Owen’s did such a great job establishing her as a gentle and caring person, that to find out that she was actually the murderer at the end was a little tough to wrap my head around. That said, I loved how the murder connected back to the firefly ritual.
Overall, it was an amazing story of survival, love, and connection to our amazing planet. I think that this is a massive success and accomplishment for her first novel. This book really does deserve all the hype.
For more information Delia Owens and her books- Click here >Delia Owens< to find her on Goodreads.