Book Review: Where The Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens

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Title: Where The Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Publisher: Corsair; 01 edition (8 November 2018)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: Rs. 299 on Amazon for the Kindle edition
Pages: 379

This was another book that I picked up due to high praise it received all over social media. I had never heard of the author or the book until then. I've been taking such risks quite often these days and my to-be-read pile has surpassed my read pile now. I have no regrets though. I always planned on buying a second book shelf that went from the floor to the ceiling. Looks like I have to get to it soon.

Where The Crawdads Sing follows two time lines that slowly intertwine. The first part 'The Marsh', unfolds in 1952, and is the story of survival of a woman - Catherine Danielle Clark, nicknamed Kya. Abandoned by her father, mother and four other older siblings, when she was six-years-old, Kya learns the art of surviving alone. She lives in an isolated shack in the marsh in North Carolina, and faces prejudice from the others in the town of Barkley Cove, who infamously call her "The Marsh Girl". Without any family or money, she learns self-reliance at that tender age, by gardening, fishing and collecting fresh mussels and selling them to Jumpin', a black man who own a gas station for boats. When she is sent to school by child-services, she is mocked at by the others and is called filthy and dirty. After that one day, she stops going to school.

The marsh becomes her home and her school, as she grows up in the wild befriending gulls, insects and other birds. Waking up before dawn, collecting mussels and getting on to her boat, she goes to Jumpin' and sells them in exchange for gas and other basic stuff. Jumpin's wife, Mabel, helps her in getting clothes that she has collected from good will. When Kya meets Tate Walker, a friend of her brother, who sometimes fishes in the marsh, she is wary of him. With time, she befriends him and soon Tate teaches her to read and write. Years pass and they fall in love. When Tate leaves for college, he promises to come back for her, but once there he realizes that Kya cannot fit in his life as she's wild and independent thanks to only having known the marsh. He leaves without saying good-bye, leaving a heart-broken and cynical Kya.

The second part 'The Swamp', takes place in 1965 when Kya is nineteen. This part follows the murder investigation of Chase Andrews, the local celebrity of Barkley Cove, who has a brief relationship with Kya, promises to marry her to sleep with her and then marries someone else. By now, Kya who has befriended Tate again, but hasn't forgiven him, becomes a best selling author, by writing about and illustrating the creatures in the marsh. Her book on seashells and is a hit and she plans to write a book on seabirds and mushrooms next. She only has Tate to thank for this. He's the one who urged her to write and introduced her work to an editor. The local sheriff and Chase's parents are convinced that Chase was killed by Kya. But, Kya wasn't in town for two days including the day that Chase died. A trial takes place and Kya now has to deal with the prejudice she faced, first hand.

You know those books that make you want to read non-stop, until you know the whole story? This was one such book for me. Very few authors exist today who do complete justice to female protagonists and Delia Owens happens to be leading the list. In Kya she gives us a child-heroine, who is naive and brave at the same time. Such a beautiful and smartly etched character Kya is. With time, you see her evolution and you cannot help but applaud at the way she brings herself up. Totally self-reliant and eager to learn, Kya owns the story and does total justice to it. As someone who learned to read and write with the help of another child, Kya surprises everyone. Tate Walker is another brilliant and heart-felt character, who is torn between his dreams and his true love for Kya. As independent as Kya is, she becomes something, finds an identity of her own, with the help of Tate. This is how she becomes "The Marsh Expert" from "The Marsh Girl".

Where The Crawdads Sing is a heartwarming coming of age story of Kya and Tate. The writing is brilliant and well paced with a good amount of poetry thrown in. Kya recites the poetry of a certain Amanda Hamilton, a local poetess, throughout the book and these are such meaningful verses. It ties the story well and the element of mystery in terms of the murder does not overshadow the journey of Kya. It is her story all the way!


Verdict: This probably will be one of my top five for this year. Read it right now, if you haven't already.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

14 comments:

  1. Oh darn! I still have to get to Higashino and now this!

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  2. Sounds like a book I may enjoy too. Thanks for sharing the review.

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    1. You sure will. Let me know how you like it.

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    2. I'm sure this is a brilliant book. Adding this to my TBR.

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  3. This is exactly the story I would love to read any given day. I would like to know more about why was Kya abandoned by her big family and how could she manage to survive alone at the age of 6. I am completely invested in the story. I think I can't do without buying and reading this one.

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    1. Do read this one Anamika, you will not be disappointed.

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  4. I have been seeing this book all over too. 5 stars is huge recommendation. Looking for it on the Amazon right away!

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  5. Never heard of this book or the author. But now I think I just might pick it up. Somehow it seems to remind me of 'Little Fires everywhere' in essence. If that's true, then I will love this book because I absolutely adored that one!

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    1. This is very different from 'Little Fires Everywhere', dare I say much better too. Read this Shy, you will love it.

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  6. I have got the book on my TBR. Thanks for the reco - this one looks like I will like :)

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