Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

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.

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.”

Please don’t talk to me about isolation. No one has to tell me how it changes a person. I have lived it. I am isolation,” Kya whispered with a slight edge.”

Description

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.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens 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.

My thoughts

This book was a slow starter for me. For a while there I wasn’t feeling all the love that others had professed, despite the beautiful language and imagery. But once the solid groundwork of Kya’s back story had been laid and the story settled into the day-to-day of her growing and learning and surviving I started to really enjoy it. The interludes with the police broke the rhythm just enough to remind us that there was another story happening in the background, which would later take centre stage. This book really does have it all – prejudice of a town against a girl born of lowly marsh folk and now growing up wild, the innate racism of the time shown to Jumpin, a beautiful love story, and a murder – all wrapped up in the beautifully described setting of the salt marshes of Carolina.
I did guess the ending but it wasn’t a sure thing and I felt more a sense of satisfaction (and relief) that the author made the ending perfect than disappointment that I had guessed it.

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