Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Literary fiction, Historical fiction, Mystery
Pages: 384 pages
Published: 17th January 2019 by Corsair (UK) & 14th August 2018 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons (US)
Where the Crawdads Sing is a book that’s massively praised worldwide, and it lives up to all the hype.
It doesn’t matter whether you read literary fiction or not, if you’ve visited Amazon or a bookstore in 2019, it’s quite likely that you’ve heard about Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens’s FIRST novel that’s praised and hit bestseller everywhere. Honestly, I didn’t expect to read this one; my girlfriend and my co-blogger—Celeste—highly recommended it to me even though they know that it’s well outside my usual genre—SFF—of novels to read. However, the immensely high average ratings made the book a must-try for me. At the time of writing this review, it has an average of 4.5 stars out of 463k ratings on Goodreads, and on Amazon US it has an average rating of 4.8 out of 27.3k ratings/reviews! To make things even crazier, this is the author’s FIRST novel, and everything about it lives up to the hype.
“I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.”
Where the Crawdads Sing follows the coming-of-age story of Kya, who’s also known as the Marsh girl. The book itself is a great mix of coming-of-age and murder mystery. The coming-of-age story starts in 1952, and the murder mystery of Chase Andrews begins in 1969. The narrative juggles the two timeframes constantly, slowly connecting two different timelines and genre towards each other with the progression of each chapter. When Kya’s coming-of-age story eventually converges with the murder mystery aspect, the tension of the book was heightened up to the state of the book being practically unputdownable. I believe that this is a book that will, or should I say already, be a hit for many readers across all genres. I read this on an impulse because I’m looking for a great standalone, and I got what I wanted.
“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.”
I can confidently say that a HUGE part of why I enjoyed reading this book immensely was due to how well-written the characters were. Loneliness, a life in isolation, friendship, nature, and finding connections were some of the central themes in Where the Crawdads Sing; the characters brought these themes to life. At one or two points in your lifetime, there will be moments where you feel like you’re alone, and you end up craving acceptance from a group of friends or community because of it. We humans often seek connections, and we often suffer from loneliness. Kya’s coming-of-age story teaches readers about how brutally painful a life in isolation can be. There’s a lot of resonating lessons that can be earned by reading Kya’s story; loving yourself comes first, and it’s okay to have only one, two, or a few loyal friends rather than being in a group you forced yourself to be included in. Kya’s interaction with each different side characters throughout the novel was just so well done; every dialogue, with the addition of Kya’s internalizations, fleshed out the characters further. Kya wasn’t the singular character I cared for; both Tate and Jumpin ended up becoming two other characters I loved. These aren’t flawless characters; they’re flawed, they make mistakes, they learned from their regrets, and I enjoyed reading about them.
“His dad had told him many times that the definition of a real man is one who cries without shame, reads poetry with his heart, feels opera in his soul, and does what’s necessary to defend a woman.”
There were a few small sections that took some time to get used to such as the accents spoken by some of the characters during their dialogues, and the author’s insertion of poetry into the storyline. I love poetic prose, but admittedly, real poetry doesn’t click with me as often as I prefer. However, the author’s prose remained engaging throughout the plot, and it’s seriously astounding that this is her first published novel. Every part of this novel was compelling to read, and whether it’s the coming-of-age or the murder mystery sections, I was captivated effortlessly. Plus, although Kya’s character development is the most dominant narrative, I loved that the mystery aspect left me constantly guessing.
“Let’s face it, a lot of times love doesn’t work out. Yet even when it fails, it connects you to others and, in the end, that is all you have, the connections. Look at us; you and I have each other now, and just think, if I have kids and you have kids, well, that’s a whole new string of connections.”
Where the Crawdads Sing is a beautifully immersive, gripping, and important book. It celebrates books, literature, friendship, family, love, and passion. Owens prioritized these humane themes without forgetting the important necessity of nature in our life, and it’s all so wonderfully done. Readers will remember Kya and the life she lives as a Marsh Girl; I recommend this book to every reader, simple as that.
You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)