Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 14th, 2018 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
Fans of Barbara Kingsolver will love this stunning debut novel from a New York Times bestselling nature writer, about an unforgettable young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open.
For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She's barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So, in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark.
But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world--until the unthinkable happens.
In Where the Crawdads Sing, Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a heartbreaking coming of age story and a surprising murder investigation. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens's debut novel reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
I was immediately drawn into this beautifully written, heartbreaking coming of age story. I now understand why Where the Crawdads Sing is receiving such high ratings and attention, the hype is real. This is the most captivating book I've read this year and my 2018 favorite.
We meet our main character Kya in 1952 at a young age of six whose mother walks out on the family, leaving her children behind with their abusive alcoholic father. Kya’s siblings are older, and they eventually leave one by one, leaving her alone with her father, who is absent most of the time. By ten years Kya was living alone raising herself as she learns the ways of life through the marsh. She becomes isolated from the people and world around her. For years, Kya lives this way and is known as the Marsh Girl by the towns people who treat her as if she is trash.
“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.”
― Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing
Although Kya’s story is the main timeline, there is a dual timeline begining in 1969 with the death of Barkley Cove’s football legend Chase Andrews. Most everyone in town assumes it was the Marsh Girl who is responsible for Chase’s death, because of rumors of a jilted past relationship.
This book has such unforgettable characters that you will fall in love with; Kya, beautiful, smart, strong, fearless and very lonely. Jumpin’ and his wife Mabel, a black couple that help Kya with clothing, food and supplies. Over the many years she develops such a close relationship with Jumpin’, he becomes what a real father should be to Kya and he loves her like a daughter. Then we have Tate, her brothers’ friend who has known Kya since she was a toddler. Tate teachers her to read and write and brings her old textbooks to learn from. Tate also teachers her about acceptance and friendship, first love and heartbreak.
This book my not be for everyone as it contains beautiful poetry and vivid descriptions of animals, insects and plant life within the marsh of North Carolina, almost a character within itself. Where the Crawdads Sing, it is an emotional, touching novel with an unforgettable heroine and a bittersweet ending that I absolutely loved.
“Sometimes she heard night-sounds she didn’t know or jumped from lightning too close, but whenever she stumbled, it was the land who caught her. Until at last, at some unclaimed moment, the heart-pain seeped away like water into sand. Still there, but deep. Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.”
― Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing
Happy Reading –