Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

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Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

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Buy Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Olivia Mitchell
Reviewed by Olivia Mitchell
Summary: An unforgettable book that is simultaneously a heart-breaking coming of age story and a keen murder investigation, set against the verdant marshland of 1950s and 60s North Carolina with a stellar female protagonist, topped off with a surprising twist.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: December 2019
Publisher: Corsair
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1472154668

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In 1952, Kya's mother disappeared up the dirt track to town, wearing her alligator heels, and never came home. Then one by one her siblings left, ran from the shack on the North Carolina marsh that served as home and the life that would lead to nothing but suffering, leaving 7-year-old Kya with her drunken father. Years pass and Kya - now nicknamed 'Marsh-Girl' – still yearns for a mother that would never return and grew up far too fast for a girl who can neither read nor write. Finally, one night her father never came home leaving Kya completely alone to survive on the marsh. Eventually, as the years drift painfully by, the time comes when Kya, now an emotional and vastly intelligent young woman, yearns for company besides the gulls and the land, yearning to be loved and to be held. So, when 2 boys from the town of Barkley Cove find their way to her, she finds a new way of life. But in 1969, the body of former star quarterback and new husband Chase Andrews is found lying in the mud of the marsh, and everyone in town immediately suspects the mysterious, run-down Marsh-Girl. Who is Kya now, after years of isolation and a broken, hardened heart? Is she really capable of murder?

Kya is a fascinating character. Growing up first abused and wounded, then abandoned and isolated, she is treated as lower-than-low by the townspeople of Barkley Cove and as she grows up broken-hearted time and time again, she becomes hardened and yet still yearns for the softer side of life - love, family and companionship. She is wildly intelligent, despite going to school for only one day in her entire life. She learnt more than the kids in school by growing up on the marsh, studying it, and eventually learning to read books on biology, religion, physics, poetry and everything in between. She is naive to so much and yet so wise to so much more. You truly hope the best for this character, and seeing her grow up and change as she ages is a really enjoyable experience. The way she interacts with the people around her is another part of her character that I really liked - she is closed off yet yearns for companionship, fearful yet desperate - entirely a product of the way she has been treated, left by everyone she ever cared about. She is one of my favourite protagonists that I've ever read.

The diverse cast of characters in the book, from Kya's family to the townspeople of Barkley Cove, paint a picture of the Deep South in the 1950s and 60s, with supremacism, segregation, poverty, gender, family and love all central features of the character dynamics.

The story is told from 2 different perspectives - in 1969, it follows the murder investigation of Chase Andrews, and from 1952 to 1969 it follows Kya's life as she grows up. The story is very engaging as events and hints in Kya's life in the past become relevant in the 1969 murder investigation, with moments tying together across the years and creating a very engaging storyline of an older Kya as a suspect, alongside the narrative of her coming-of-age, creating an addictive story right up to the surprising end.

The language in this book is beautiful. The words truly bring the marshland, the swamps and the sea to life, with the heat and the sound and the full force of nature bursting off the page, it creates an incredibly immersive read. Much of the dialogue is spoken in accent as well, only adding to the world of the book. It is clearly deeply and precisely detailed, so richly researched and thought-out that this book feels incredibly real and genuine. I struggle to find any fault with this book - I cannot praise it highly enough.

A painful and beautiful book about family, love, heartbreak, resilience, the beauty of the natural world, the pain of growing up and the darker sides to humanity.

Further Reading:

Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver - Set in red-neck, bible-belt Tennessee, Kingsolver pits science against faith in this story of global warming and its implications, while also exploring the very personal feelings of a wife trapped on a failing farm.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng - An overachiever is found dead leaving her grieving family with many questions, but very few answers.

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Buy Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens at Amazon.com.

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