Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: August 14, 2018
Genre: Literary Fiction
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪
I finally get the hype about this book! ‘Coming of age’ stories usually aren’t my thing, and after skimming the back of my copy I was pretty sure that’s what I was in for, but man was I pleasantly surprised. Owens’ beautifully descriptive prose and characteristic writing style sucked me in from the beginning. The way the setting was constructed was impeccable, I could intricately picture the marsh, and felt like I was experiencing and appreciating it through the main character, Kya.
The book truly covers the entire life of Kya, an unbelievable impressive feat for under 400 pages. She begins as a very young girl, watching her mother, and subsequently each of her older siblings walk out on her, away from her drunk and abusive father. Her ignorance and lack of understanding of what she is experiencing comes through so clearly in Owens’ writing. I truly felt Kya’s struggle and determination as she tries to catch mussels and smoke fish to make a few cents to feed herself. She befriends Jumpin’ and Mabel, who run a little store she can boat to, and take her under their wing, while making sure not to bruise her pride. They accept her meager offerings, and keep her dressed and fed. Although the story primarily focuses on Kya, these two characters truly captured my heart.
As Kya grows up, we witness incredible growth, as she first learns how to take care of herself, and then is taught to read and write by a boy named Tate who lives nearby. Kya and Tate’s relationship quickly grows beyond that of a student and teacher, and they ‘date’ (in an untraditional manner) until he goes away to college to study Marine Biology. Once Tate leaves, Kya becomes involved with Chase, who never really seems to have her best interest at heart, and strings her along for years until she discovers that he is engaged to someone else in town.
The second half of the book takes a sharp turn, as Chase is found dead at the bottom of the local fire tower, and Kya is put on trial for his murder. Although very different from the lyrical marsh life that fills the first half of this story, I found this plot twist no less enjoyable. We witness Kya’s intense discomfort in the public eye, and her struggle to survive away from her home.
The end of this tale sees Kya reunited with Tate back in the marsh. Although the majority of the book was like a calming boat ride, the ending was a bit of a surprise, which was refreshing and obviously unexpected. The way Owens was able to weave mystery and suspense into the second half of this book without if feeling jarring or out of place was very well received, and I will definitely be recommending this book for a long time to come. I was so engrossed in this book that I didn’t even have time to bake, although I did stop by Panera to snag a couple of their chocolate chip cookies.