Book 30 on my “March to 100 for 2019″—Delia Owens: Where The Crawdad’s Sing—An abandoned young girl grows up in the marsh of North Carolina.
I mostly avoid giving my opinion in my notes because people’s taste are so varied, but I have to break the rules for this one—I loved this book. The poetic language, the heart-wrenching story, the stunning nod to nature, and the powerful characters made this one of the best books I have read in a long time.
Kya Clark is known to the townspeople as the Marsh Girl. Abandoned by her parents and siblings at a very young age, she attended all of one day of school and spends her days avoiding humans and living with the animals of the marsh. She grows close to only a handful of people—the owner of bait and fuel store popular among the fisherman, his wife, and two boys who pursue her attention.
When she learns to read in her teenage years, she discovers the wealth of information in books. That knowledges spurs her to combine her artistic talents and knowledge of marsh life to become a popular if reclusive author.
When one of the two boys, now men, turns up dead, Kya becomes a prime suspect in his murder.
I mention the murder last because, despite it appearing throughout the book, this is not a murder mystery. In fact, I figured out the culprit about midway through the book and it didn’t take away from the ending at all.
Instead, this is an epic and heartbreaking story of the life of someone outside of the mainstream world. Her intelligence and potential are recognized by few and part of that is her own reluctance to let others see her.
The author gives us complex characters. Some of the people who appear “bad” early in the book turn out to be better than first revealed. Several people help Kya (some without letting even her know of their help). And Kya herself causes some of her own pain.
Some people may consider the book slow (long—and beautiful—descriptions of the animals of the marsh), the dialect can be challenging, the text is sprinkled with poetry, and Kya’s life is filled with abuse, so if those things turn you off, you may pass on the book. But I found Kya’s story heartbreaking and uplifting, even if I did have to read some pages through tears.
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