Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

by Joli

Well, it finally happened: After months of waiting on the library list for Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, my number came up. Yep, this best-selling hyped up literary fiction read was finally in my hands. Huzzah! Here’s what I thought about it.

The Plot Summary

For those who don’t know what this one’s about, I’ll give you a brief overview (without giving anything away). The basic premise is that a young girl (Kya) living in the marshlands of the North Carolina coast is left by her family to fend for herself. Her youngest years were spent with an abusive father, which is what causes her family members (starting with her mother) to leave. Eventually, it’s just her and her father left. He spends a little time trying to better himself and be a father to her, but slides back to the drink and then leaves too. Kya grows up fending for herself in her shack, uneducated and mostly alone.

More about the book:

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.

My Thoughts

This book starts off super slow. To be honest, for about the first third-to-half of the book, I didn’t understand what people were talking about when they went on about how good it was. Sure, there are some beautiful passages about nature and life among it, but the plot is pretty slow. It’s a long book, too, so you look at how far you are and think “hm, is this going to pick up at some point?”.

Of course, I do enjoy character-driven novels (such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), but for some reason that first bit of this book was soo slow. I think maybe it was the anticipation of the whatever it was that was going to happen to make the book best-seller worthy!

Anyway, when the plot finally did pick up, I didn’t want to put the book down. The whodunnit part of the plot starts to get pretty intense, leading to a whole bunch of happenings that kept me super engaged. Combine all of that with the truly gorgeous passages about nature, human nature, growing up, and loneliness, and this book really sucked me in.

Here’s one particular passage I highlighted:

Kya stood and walked into the night, into the creamy light of a three-quarter moon. The marsh’s soft air fell silklike around her shoulders. The moonlight chose an unexpected path through the pines, laying shadows about in rhymes. She strolled like a sleepwalker as the moon pulled herself naked from the waters and climbed limb by limb through the oaks. The slick mud of the lagoon shore glowed in the intense light, and hundreds of fireflies dotted the woods. Wearing a secondhand white dress with a flowing skirt and waving her arms slowly about, Kya waltzed to the music of katydids and leopard frogs.

Does Where the Crawdads Sing live up to the hype?

For me, yes, it did. Although it was dragging for me at first, the way the plot picks up and climaxes and the way the book ends pulled me in so hard, I fell in love with it. Looking back at the book as a whole, I think it’s okay that it starts off so slow. There’s so much character development there, so much backstory, so many necessary words.

If you’re a literary fiction lover, I think you’ll eat this one up. If you’re reading it for the whodunnit, you might be disappointed. For me, 5 stars, would recommend!

Where the Crawdads Sing Book Cover Where the Crawdads Sing
Delia Owens
Literary Fiction
Penguin Random House
Aug 14, 2018

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