The Blurb (Goodreads):
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet fishing village. Kya Clark is barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when the popular Chase Andrews is found dead, locals immediately suspect her.
But Kya is not what they say. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life's lessons from the land, learning the real ways of the world from the dishonest signals of fireflies. But while she has the skills to live in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world—until the unthinkable happens.
In Where the Crawdads Sing, Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a profound coming of age story and haunting mystery. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens’s debut novel reminds us that we are forever shaped by the child within us, while also subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
The story asks how isolation influences the behavior of a young woman, who like all of us, has the genetic propensity to belong to a group. The clues to the mystery are brushed into the lush habitat and natural histories of its wild creatures
I feel like everyone else in the world has read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – it’s one of those books that has seized the popular imagination and become a cultural phenomenon. It’s sold more than 11 million copies, been made into a movie, and caused a lot of talk, particularly about some of the uncanny parallels with the author’s own life.
I was not sure what to expect when I came to it – I often find that books that have been so popular leave me underwhelmed. I loved Where The Crawdads Sung, though. I thought it was beautifully written, cleverly constructed, & filled with vivid urgent life like the marshes themselves. I was moved by the character of Kya, the little abandoned girl who struggles to survive alone in the swamp, and who longs only to be loved; and the depictions of the life in 1950s and 60s North Carolina reminded me a little of A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter which I have always loved for its depiction of the swamplands of Indiana and its passionate defence of nature and wildness. The denouement of the mystery came as no surprise to me, but it did feel psychologically true, even if morally troubling. I’m glad that Kya found someone to love her and care for her, and was able to build a rich and satisfying life for herself.
You might also like to read my review of The Last Days of the Romanov Dancers by Kerri Turner: