I came late to, Where the Crawdads Sing. I picked it up in the bookshop a few times, and had a look inside on amazon, but the beginning never grabbed me. In the end—knowing I needed to discover the big rave—I decided to try the audio version. It took me a little while to get into. Once I decided to go with the suspension of disbelief, I got immersed into the story.
At the age of six, Kya is abandoned by her mother; her siblings follow until she’s left on her own with a drunk father who comes and goes. They live in a shack on the marshlands of the North Carolina coast. About a year later, her father disappears too. Kya has to learn to fend for herself. She lives on grits (similar to polenta), picks muzzles to earn a little money, and runs away into the bush when the authorities come looking for her. The marsh girl, as the locals call her, finds a friend in Jumpin, who owns the shop where she can buy fuel and other essentials, as well as his wife Maple. The only other person in her young life, is Tate, who teaches her to read and write. Thanks to Tate, Kya will face everything from victory to tragedy. I do blame Tate, for a lot that happens to her.
The story is told in two timelines, one begins in 1952 when she’s a child and the other in 1969 with a man found dead in the marshland below the fire tower. We follow Kya’s growth from child into a young woman, as well as the ongoing investigation. It’s a story about loneliness, about separation from community.
Delia Owens, describes nature and wildlife beautifully. However, I found the characters too cliché, and Kya was for my taste a little too good, too perfect, too beautiful. I’m obsessed with dialogue and I often found it either inauthentic or with too much dialect. There was poetry included in the book which I would have preferred taken out. And another smaller detail, which may not bother readers but bothered me, at times, was the subtle ‘head-hopping’.
I looked up Delia Owens and she has certainly lived an interesting life. I can see why nature plays such a big part. According to herself, the research on the importance of female grouping in social mammals influenced this story.
I wish I’d read Where the Crawdads Sing, instead of listened. My mind does wonder at times, and I would have paid better attention to the language if I’d read it. I believe I’ve missed out. Maybe at some stage I’ll come back to it.
This story has romance, mystery, an unusual setting, a wonderful look into the life of the marshland, and a twist. I can see why it’s a best seller.