Where the Crawdads Sing: A young woman survives alone in the marshes of N Carolina
A young woman from an abusive home who basically raises herself finds her life complicated when she meets a young man - and someone ends up dead, with her as the main suspect.
Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens
Genre: General Fiction
Published 2018, 384 pages
This book certainly got a lot of hype so I picked it up as my first read of 2019 and I think it mostly lived up to all that attention. As a debut novel, it's amazingly perceptive and satisfying. It's not a book I would normally gravitate toward, but this is one of the times when Instagram (and Reese Witherspoon for her book club) got it right - it's a book of desperate loneliness and resiliency and just plain survival. But it's not overly grim because it's also a book of kindness, triumph and independence.
Part of my reluctance was in the jacket description that it's about the nature and critters of the marshes of N Carolina - kinda not my thing and I envisioned pages and pages of description. However, I found the nature content very interesting and well incorporated into the story.
“She knew the years of isolation had altered her behavior until she was different from others, but it wasn't her fault she'd been alone. Most of what she knew, she'd learned from the wild. Nature had nurtured, tutored, and protected her when no one else would.”
It is, after all, a story of an abused child isolated and raising herself, living in a shack in the marsh. The character of Kya pulled me in and I felt her pain as she struggled with her loneliness and aloneness. I liked the light love story and loved the small mystery introduced toward the end...didn't really expect that and thought it was handled well.
"His dad had told him many times that the definition of a real man is one who cries without shame, reads poetry with his heart, feels opera in his soul, and does what’s necessary to defend a woman. "
However, I had some trouble buying into how easily she went from learning to read (as an adult!) to reading and absorbing scientific texts. Also didn't love the end. It felt like a quick tie up of loose ends after such a leisurely exploration of her life up to that point. A little too Hollywood, maybe.
That being said, it's a delightful book. Definitely lots of topics for discussion in a book group. Highly recommended.
photos by Terrie Purkey, Everglades, FL