Where the Crawdads Singby Published 14 Aug 2018
|Where the Crawdads Sing.pdf|
|Publisher||G.P. Putnam's Sons|
"Painfully beautiful."--The New York Times Book Review
"Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver."--Bustle
"Owens delivers her lush mystery wrapped in gorgeous, lyrical prose."--Alexandra Fuller
How long can you protect your heart?
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.
Where the Crawdads Sing Reviews
4.5 all aboard the hype train stars!!!
Full review along with a few recipes for a decadent southern fried feast featured on my blog Recipe and a Read!
When Kya Clark is 6 years old, she watches as her mother walks away from her, seemingly without a second thought. With the departure of their matriarch, the Clark family slowly but surely vanishes into the marsh that will become the only family Kya will ever know. Her siblings leave shortly after her mother, leaving Kya alone with her father who negligent at best and abusive at worst. She is left to raise herself, care for her father and their home as she struggles with feelings of abandonment, a deep loneliness and fear that during one of her father’s absences social workers will come whisk her away to the dreaded group home.
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.
It’s the 1950’s when we’re given the bulk of Kya’s story and upbringing. To say it was difficult is putting it in the absolute mildest terms. She has no education to speak of, she has no means to make money and she must rely on her whit and the lessons of the marsh and a few kind townspeople. For the most part, people avoid her, don’t let their children play with her, mock and marginalize her. As we see Kya grow, what really shows most brightly for me was her utter resilience. She is one of the strongest and most genuinely likable characters I’ve come across in a long time.
While Kya’s story is our main timeline, there is a dual timeline running in 1969 that starts off with the death of town legend and golden boy Chase Andrews. As rumors entrench the town about what could have happened to Chase, what might have happened in his past with Kya things get sticky.
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.
This, at it’s heart, is a deeply sad but moving story about a misunderstood girl, about abandonment and loss. However, there are uplifting moments and characters that come into Kya’s life that shed light into her dreary and lonely world - through friendships with a shop owner named Jumpin’ and his wife Mabel, through a boy named Tate who teaches Kya not just how to read but about acceptance and friendship and joy. These two timelines slowly begin to converge upon one another and as it does the true gem of this story becomes apparent: nature and all it’s wonders.
I really took my time reading this one, and while it did start off a little slow for me, what never wavered was the truly magnificent prose that Owen deals out with an incredibly deft hand. I’m not sure I’ve ever read something so empirically lovely, it’s the type of story that satisfies a need for a reader to love and appreciate language. One of my favorite things I’ve found in many historical fiction novels is the ability of an author to create secondary characters out of things like setting, the time period and in this case, the marsh itself.
Kya was bonded to her planet and its life in a way few people are. Rooted solid in this earth. Born of this mother.
I’m not sure I quite understood what the term atmospheric meant prior to reading this novel. The marsh, the insects, the birds, the mud and the sand permeate this entire story. It creates a heady need to immerse oneself fully in prose so elegant and indulgent that you can’t help but reflect in awe of the ability to weave such a vivid and emotional story in a way that becomes exceedingly difficult to do it justice with mere words that ultimately fall flat in comparison to what you have just read.
I read this with the Traveling Sisters and we all mostly ended up in the same coulee of being enamored with the beautiful writing and development of this story!
I'm typically skeptical of books that are hyped to high heavens and end up on every book club list for months straight, not because they aren't worthy, but because I can let my expectations get the best of me and keep me from fully enjoying a wonderful book. This book exceeded my already high expectations; it emanates a quiet power, a slow drawing in and connection of reader to book, one that I found myself able to get lost in due to the lush atmosphere and the depth of emotion. I can see now why this book is getting so much attention, and am thrilled to see that for once the hype train was right on track.
The hype is REAL with this one! Go ahead and bump it right up to the top of your TBR list.
Delia Owens is a wildlife scientist. Where The Crawdads Sing might be a work of fiction, but it's her love song to a very real, very raw world. We spend so much time in civilization, in built-up cities with infinite technology, that we often forget about the places where those civilizations blend into wilderness and where that wilderness blends into the sea. We forget about the life that happens outside of our own, including the bustling metropolises of eastern marshes, the swamps that are booming with bugs, birds, and bush.
And Kya Clark. In 1952, when she is just six years old, Kya watches with her siblings as her mother leaves their shack in North Carolina’s bog-lands. Their father is an abusive and absent drunk, slowly pushing everyone away until Kya is the only one left. Her brothers and sisters were all many years older than her, so they were able to leave and find their own way, while she was forced to remain.
“The next morning, Kya took up her post again on the steps, her dark eyes boring down the lane like a tunnel waiting for a train. The marsh beyond was veiled in fog so low its cushy bottom sat right on the mud.”
And this is the way her life begins. Her father leaves for long stretches, leaving small amounts of change for Kya to run to the market and pick up just enough food to sustain herself. She never goes to school and never learns to read; her education comes through observations of the flora and fauna surrounding her every single day. Since everyone in her life has left her, she trusts no one. That is, until she meets Tate Walker.
Though she slowly forms a friendship with a local boy who had been her brother’s friend, the townspeople all think of her as the “Marsh Girl,” an apt yet derogatory nickname that turns her into a shameful legend. When she ventures into town, whispers flood her ears. Parents don’t let their kids go near her at the market or at the bait and gas shop owned by Jumpin’, the only other person who is friendly to Kya.
This is the main timeline, but it is interspersed with events unfolding in 1969. A prominent young man named Chase Andrews fell from the local fire tower to his death on a nearby section of the marsh. He was the town’s golden boy, and since no one in their right mind would ever want to hurt him, all suspicions turn to Kya, who has kept mostly to herself in her dingy shack all these years.
“Birds sing mostly at dawn because the cool, moist air of morning carries their songs and their meanings much farther. All her life, she’d seen these marvels at eye level, so nature’s ways came easily to her.”
As these two stories gradually edge toward one another, we are treated to prose so divine it might as well have been written in another language. I found myself needing to pause and digest some of the scenes in Where The Crawdads Sing, like a rich meal made from the most luxurious ingredients.
While the stories are engrossing enough at face value, Owens was hinting at something much larger than a poor girl living in a swamp. This is a book about nature as the equalizer. People can hide behind their material possessions, but true character is revealed when all of that is stripped away.
“People rarely noticed grasses except to mow, trample, or poison them. She swept her brush madly across the canvas in a color more black than green. Dark images emerged, maybe dying meadows under storm cells. It was hard to tell.”
In a way, nature is also the narrator of this novel. We get such detailed glimpses into the most intimate moments of Kya’s life – whether joyous or heartbreaking – to which no human was privy because she was always alone. The only entity that would’ve known Kya so well was the marsh. The cranes, the lagoons, and the mosquitoes carried her from childhood, through adolescence, and into adulthood. They raised her, they knew her, and they told her story.
This was a Traveling Friends read, and it has absolutely enchanted everyone so far. It is so steeped in mystery, romance, and nature that it's turning out to be an awesome group read!
4.5 stars rounded up .
A story of survival, of what the depth of loneliness feels like when a young girl is abandoned first by her mother, then her four siblings. Even at five Kya understands why they left - because of her father, because of his meanness, his abuse, his drinking. What she doesn’t understand is why they left her behind and neither could I. She remains pretty much alone since her father comes and goes until he doesn’t come back. It was gutting as she sits on the beach with the gulls not wanting them to fly away and leave her too. Heartbreaking how she is neglected and abandoned, remembering the beatings, trying to figure out a way to eat.
Atmospheric is an understatement, and I don’t use that word often because it seems overused sometimes but this place, the marsh permeates just about everything that is meaningful in this story beginning with Kya’s realization “And the marsh became her mother.” The marsh becomes her life, her livelihood, the essence of who she becomes through her self learned expertise of the insects and the birds, her art. But is it enough to heal her? The kind hearts of Jumpin’ and Mabel who help a little girl alone and in need, the only human contact she has until her brother’s friend Tate comes into her life, but is that enough to help her heal ? I love the writing, fabulous descriptions of the marsh. The marsh and its inhabitants, the insects, the fish, the birds which pique Kya’s curiosity, give her so much joy and company, and allow her to become the expert she does become on the marsh and marsh life. But is that enough to make Kya whole after so much hurt and loneliness?
There’s a murder mystery, not my usual fare, but I was totally engaged, trying to come up with who the murderer was, totally engaged in the courtroom scenes. I gave it 4.5 stars because there were a couple of things that felt not quite realistic. But when I woke up thinking about this story, I knew I would round it up to 5 stars . I don’t often cry over books, but this one definitely brought me to tears at a number of places. Overall it was such a fabulous read, heartbreaking in so many ways, with wonderful writing and characters, a stunning portrait of a place, of the trauma of loss and loneliness. My heart was always broken for Kya, a character to remember. An unforgettable ending.
This was a monthly read with Esil and Diane and as always I appreciate their thoughts as we read together. In this case, we have very similar feelings about this beautiful story.
I received an advanced copy of this book from G.P. Putnam’s Sons through Edelweiss.
This is an amazing first novel by this author!
In the marsh land, near the North Carolina coast, the youngest child of a big, poor family is first left by her mother, her brother and later her father...she is such a little girl and left to fend for herself.... so heartbreaking!
This story lets us follow her entire life, a life that is mostly very lonely.
Part coming of age story, part love story, part mystery...these characters will really pull you in!
I just loved it!!
Thank you to Netgalley and G.P. Putnam’s Sons for the digital copy!