Rating: 4 / 5
Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing is the fascinating, wistful story of a young girl living in the North Carolina marshes who must fend for herself when, one by one, her family leaves her.
Kya is so young when her mother walks out the front door of the family’s shack among the marsh and never comes home. She is the youngest of five, and each of her siblings – now free from familial obligations and full of hatred for their abusive father – flees behind their mother. Kya is left alone with her father, an alcoholic with a penchant for violence and disappearing for days.
Kya knows that if the authorities find out she’s being neglected, they’ll take her away from her beloved marsh. Thus, she spends her days caring for herself; scavenging for oysters to sell to the local gas station, cooking for herself, and hiding from the truancy officers who come by to take her to school.
Where the Crawdads Sing follows Kya’s remote and isolated life in the marsh as she grows and becomes something of a folklore to the nearby townspeople, as well as a murder that takes place several years later.
Please take caution while reading Where the Crawdads Sing if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Sexual assault
- Child abuse
- Death / dying
Honestly, I went into reading Where the Crawdads Sing pretty tentatively. I’m not keen on historical fiction or particularly southern stories, and so I’ve put off reading it for some time. At the onset, I was curious but not engrossed. The story switches between Kya’s life as she grows up in the marsh and a murder investigation taking place many years in the future, and without seeing the connection of the murder to Kya’s life, I was initially completely uninterested in the investigation. I was, however, very interested in Kya’s rough, off-the-grid life.
Kya’s story really picks up as she grows and really needs to fend for herself. She creates relationships with a few people from town, and these are the bread and butter of this story. I absolutely love the characters she chooses to surround herself with (well, most of them…).
I’m a sucker for an alternative living story, and Kya’s does not disappoint. The story isn’t as radical as, say, Educated, but it also focuses much more on other aspects of Kya’s life than just surviving. I ultimately love watching her grow and mature, make mistakes, and learn the way of the world.
And the end… oh, the ending is what really pushes this from good to great. Kya’s life and the investigation are separate for most of the story, but when they converge become so so fascinating. The slower beginning was absolutely forgiven once I got to the heartbreaking, suspenseful, exceptional ending.
All in all, I really enjoyed Where the Crawdads Sing – even while expecting that I might not! If you’re one of the three people on the planet Earth who have yet to read this book and you find the story slow to start, I highly recommend you push through because the ending is so damn good!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on Where the Crawdads Sing. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!