Rating: 4.25 Stars
I had been hearing so many good things about this book, that I was sure it was going to disappoint me. For one, the story seemed like something I could never get excited about, being set in the U.S of fifties and sixties, and for another, everyone kept harping on about how emotional it is. Fortunately, Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens lived up to all the hype surrounding it.
I cannot call this story of Kya Clark, popularly known as the Marsh Girl, a roller coaster of emotions because there were only high emotions all through the book. Catherine “Kya” Clark is barely 7 when she sees her mother walk away from home, never to return. The youngest of 5 siblings, she is left alone when all her much older siblings also leave their abusive father. What follows is a tale of heartache, hardship, the resilience of human spirit in face of adversity, and the need for love and belonging in a person’s life.
Kya’s family lives in a marsh, on the outskirts of Barkley Cove, a very small town on the coast. They are known as the town trash, just one step up from the “coloreds” in North Carolina of the 1950s. When her family disappears, hardly anyone in the town is bothered. It is with the help of a black couple and an old friend of her brother, that Kya manages to survive on her own, all alone, surrounded by hundred of acres of marsh land.
While we learn of Kya’s past, there is an alternate story about the suspected murder of Barkley Cove’s golden boy, Chase Andrews. His influential parents, and many others in the town, believe that the Marsh Girl is responsible for the murder. Now Kya has to face a murder trial in a town already prejudiced against her, with the possibility of being given the death penalty.
As I read the book, I was struck by the fact that real and true love doesn’t mean making things easy for the other person. Real love is when you work towards making that person independent and able to stand on their own feet. Reading about a little girl left all alone to fend for herself was not easy. To imagine her going through life without anyone to cuddle her or take care of her, just broke my heart. At the same time, her will to survive, and her determination to win despite all the odds against her, made me cheer her on.
The book is also full of lessons on the wildlife found on the North Carolina coastal areas. All types of birds and insects make an appearance and it was hard not to stop reading and look up the creature being talked about. There are zoology lessons along with some stirring poetry that makes this book a unique experience for the reader. Many reviews talk about the murder mystery in the book. However, I was so invested in Kya and what was happening to her that I couldn’t care less about the mystery of who killed Chase, or whether it was a murder or an accident after all.
A sweet, poignant book about a girl’s journey through life, this book is recommended for those who like drama, emotions, romance and love, as well as those who like reading about wild life.