Updated: Jan 25, 2022
This book review does not contain any spoilers.
“For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life--until the unthinkable happens.” - description from Amazon
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is the first fiction book that I have completed reading in over 5 years. It is a gentle murder mystery that follows the heart wrenching life of Kya. I fell so unbelievably in love with Kya, The Marsh Girl and her painfully beautiful story that it got to the point where I could not put it down. In the final stretch I stayed up until 3am reading it. Then I woke up the next morning and finished the last few chapters.
As readers we get to explore the marshlands on the seaside of North Carolina through the eyes of Kya. A girl who from a young age has been isolated alone in the wilderness. From the very beginning I admired how the author vividly describes nature in a familiar and heartwarming way. Her writing is a nod to the magic and mystery of nature that we all feel deep within us. As the book progresses and Kya grows so does her deep connection with the land, sky, water and especially the gulls. Delia Owens notes in her letter to readers, “Kya is every little girl and one in a million. Kya is all of us.”
I adored the poems that were included throughout the book. They were included in perfect moments and it made you feel more connected to the character and what they were experiencing. This is a small excerpt from pages 214-215 that begins with Kya reflecting on one of her favourite poems....
“Fading Moon, follow
Through light unbroken
By land shadows,
And share my senses
That feel cool
Shoulders of silence.
“Only you know
How one side of a moment
Is stretched by loneliness
To the other edge,
And how much sky
Is in one breath
When time slides backward
From the sand.” AH
If anyone understood loneliness, the moon would. Drifting back to the predictable cycles of tadpoles and the ballet of fireflies, Kya burrowed deeper into the wordless wilderness. Nature seemed the only stone that would not slip midstream.
This book has introduced me to my first book boyfriend, Tate Walker. A man who is sweet, thoughtful, supportive, motivated and bound with nature? Yes please. As Kya’s lifelong friend, his role in the book had me swooning, cursing and sobbing. We all have a desire to be heard, comforted and loved. I feel like Tate is the love we dream for, whether we already found it or not. (Sorry to the partners out there, book crushes just have a way okay!)
As someone who is passionate about nature and studying ecology I find Kyas journey very engaging. Relying on the land for food, shelter, family and friendship leads Kya to discoveries no other man had made and the connection so many of us long for. I wonder if maybe some of the negative reviews come from a place of disconnect from the natural world. When you care for nature, feel the seasons deeply and listen to the whispers of the wild Kyas story does not seem unusual or boring. It’s really fucking awesome.
I did find some of the courtroom chapters to be tough to get through. I think it was the mixture of my anxiety about what was going to happen and the boring courtroom banter. In all fairness though, I was pacing waiting to get answers and the author provides them. Oh, does she ever. You have to get through the courtroom talk to get there though.
Order Where the Crawdads Sing by Delila Owens directly through amazon.
“A strong ocean breeze pushed up the path, so that when she emerged on the beach, at least she had the wind to lean on. She called the gulls and flung large bits of French bread into the air. Then swore louder and meaner than the wind.” Where the Crawdads Sing, pg. 209