Where the Crawdads Sing
Kya Clark is six years old when her mother walks out of the shack they call home. The falling-down structure is hidden in the marshes of North Carolina, outside the fictional coastal town of Barkley Cove, a place where racial tension and small-town prejudices are firmly in place. The shack is the only place the Clark family knows, where her father’s abusive rages have terrified Kya, her mother and her siblings. Soon her older siblings run, leaving only Kya and her father, who provides her with nothing but fear. And then one day it’s just Kya, known in town and shunned as the wild Marsh Girl.
The story begins in 1952 and jumps to 1969, when a young man named Chase Andrews has died. In alternating chapters, readers learn Kya’s story of survival and how she becomes part of the investigation into Chase’s death.
Kya may be a “marsh girl,” but she has extraordinary talents that enable her to devise ways to survive and battle her loneliness, trying to understand why everyone has left her. Fearful of other people, she learns how to live as one of nature’s creatures, reaching out to just a few trusted souls who help her.
Then one day, she meets a boy, Tate Walker, who shyly leaves her presents, and a tentative friendship begins. “She’d never had a friend, but she could feel the use of it, the pull.” Their relationship grows and changes with them, opening her eyes to a larger world. But time and outside pressure soon bring disappointment and loss, leaving Kya alone once again.
I don’t want to give away too much, because the joy of this fantastic story is in reading it first-hand. I have always loved books that include nature as a character, with themes of its strong influence on human behavior. Delia Owens, with her unique background as an award-winning wildlife scientist, has created a beautiful coming-of-age story in which nature’s beauty and harsh instincts play a major role. I read this book non-stop over the course of three days, not because I wanted to get through it, but because I was so invested in Kya’s world.
If you’re looking for a high-quality read to fit it before the end of the year, I highly recommend Where the Crawdads Sing. It measures up to all the hype and the hundreds of thousands of positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
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