I will admit that upon reading the prologue of Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, I was reluctant to read further. While lyrical prose appeals to me (after all, Willa Cather is one of my favorite authors), I need a strong and interesting storyline to keep me engaged. The prologue led me to believe there would be no appealing storyline.
But I kept on, and was rewarded almost immediately with one of the most satisfying books I’ve read in quite some time. Yes, the writing was gorgeous. In fact, it was so beautiful that I was perfectly willing to suspend disbelief when it came to a 6-year-old girl being so capable of caring for herself.
Kya is, in fact, only 6 years old when her mother walks away from the home deep in the middle of the marsh country of North Carolina where she lives with Kya, her older siblings, and her abusive alcoholic husband. Kya expects her to return, but as days go by, she doesn’t. Thus begins the story of the resiliency of humans and the ability of nature to make us strong.
It isn’t long before the rest of her family are also gone, leaving Kya to care for herself. She teaches herself life skills, and with the help of a few kind people, she manages to grow up to be an absolutely brilliant writer and observer of nature.
But every human being yearns for the love and comfort of another human being, and this basic need leads to the girl referred to as the Marsh Girl facing unbearable circumstances.
The book is part mystery and part love story, but mostly an ode to nature. The marsh IS, in fact, the most important “character” in the book.
The book is bound to stay in your mind long after the unexpected conclusion. It is unlikely that the Marsh Girl won’t stick with you for a long time after you put down the book.
Where the Crawdads Sing was a delightful and compelling read, and might be one of my favorite books that I have read — or will read — in 2019.