I'm not actually sure how to begin talking about this book. There's been so much hype on bookstagram and word of mouth that all I can think of is: who cares about what I have to say? But just in case you do care, I'll carry on.
I’m normally wary of books that are hyped up as my expectations get way too high ("the volume inside of this bus is astronomical. It is way too loud") (if you don't get that, you are missing out. Hint: Tik Tok). Anyway, as I was saying, I am very wary of hyped books, but Delia Owens' Where The Crawdads Sing was genuinely a joy to read. This novel provides total escapism into someone else’s world - exactly what we all want out of a book, right?
Where The Crawdads Sing is set in North Carolina between 1952 – 1969 and follows the story of Kya, known as ‘The Marsh Girl’. Jumping back and forward in time, the story explores Kya’s difficult life alone in the marsh, her isolation and loneliness after her family slowly abandoned her. We watch her loneliness begin to be remedied as she falls in love, but things are never that simple. The flashbacks to the past are parallel to a murder investigation as a boy from town, Chase Andrews, is found dead - and she becomes prime suspect.
This novel is the perfect summer read. Owens provides such escapism through her beautiful imagery and descriptions of the North Carolina marsh. After watching Netflix’s Outer Banks, I completely fell in love with the landscape of the marshland (and the hot characters, lol), and was so excited to be able to live in it through this novel. Kya is deeply connected to nature and the marshland around her feels like her home, an extension of her. With every sentence, you can feel the water beneath your feet and the warm air around you. It is completely magical. Owens has written some beautiful scenes that are a truly immerse experience, they have so much colour and use all five of your senses.
This book is also the ultimate escapism in terms of character, being almost completely character-driven. Kya is a likeable, sympathetic character who I felt so sorry for throughout and really rooted for her happiness. Hearing of her abandonment at various point in her life really pulls at your heart strings. Watching her trials and tribulations over the number of years sucks you into her world – you feel her fear and heartache, and you worry for her. At some points I found my emotions for Kya so intense, especially in the second half of the book – it made me forget about my own life because I was so invested in hers.
However, I will be honest, I found the first half of the book quite slow to get into. The problem with character-driven plots is that you have to make the reader really care about the character, otherwise you have lost them. At the start, I was a little bit like 'ok, why do I care?' but after a while I really got into it and empathised with her. As soon as the character of Tate was introduced I was pretty much hooked (classic Kate waiting for the romance, lol).
I cannot believe that this is Delia Owens’ debut in fiction writing. She writes beautifully and emotively. She adds tiny details to fully convince the reader of the truth of this story and these characters. She keeps alive the mystery without giving anything away – until she has to. I particularly enjoyed the second half of the novel, (without giving too much away but spoiler alert?) how Owens handled the court scenes, where the reader almost acts as part of the jury hearing the evidence from both sides rather than knowing any truth. The ending was also one of the most gripping that I’ve read in a while – my jaw was on the floor!
I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone, pleasing many different readers due to the different storylines and timelines. This is not one genre, it can fit into many (coming of age, romance, thriller, mystery, nature). It is just like life, not fitting into one category, but fitting into all depending on different chapters of Kya's life.
Here are a few quotes that I particularly loved:
“She knew more about tides and snow geese, eagles and stars than most ever would, yet she couldn’t count to thirty.” Pg 105
“Autumn leaves don’t fall; they fly. They take their time and wander on this, their only chance to soar. Reflecting sunlight, they swirled and sailed and fluttered on the winds drafts.” Pg 124
“She laughed for his sake, something she’d never done. Giving away another piece of heself just to have someone else.” Pg 177
“She touched the pages and remembered each shell and the story of finding it, where it lay on the beach, the season, the sunrise. A family album.” Pg 217
See you next time,