Where the Crawdads Sing

Rating: ⭐⭐.5
Author: Delia Owens
Genres: Historical fiction
Pub. date: Aug. 2018 (read Apr. 2020)

Where the Crawdads Sing is another book I wish I’d written a review for back when I actually read it. This book has been on my TBR forever. It’s gotten consistently high reviews and was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2018. I can see that at the time I gave it 4 stars on goodreads, but this sticks out in my memory now as more of a 3 star read. I think this book had a strong sense of setting and I would say that the author did this very well, but as far as a compelling read, I was bored for a lot of the book.

Where the Crawdads Sing is about “Marsh Girl” Kya Clark. Kya had a very sad childhood growing up in the coastal wetlands of North Carolina in the 1960’s. She was the youngest of several children and her mother left when she was only a child. Her father was abusive and so the rest of her siblings quickly cleared out after that and she is eventually left home alone with her father. He is away a lot and eventually stops coming home at all, so Kya is forced to learn to take care of herself. She makes a living fishing along inland rivers of the marsh and becomes an expert at the flora and fauna that can be found in the marsh, a place that was little explored, or valued, at the time.

Kya’s mystique as the “marsh girl” draws the attention and intrigue of some of the local townspeople and when Chase Andrews is found dead, Kya finds herself at the centre of a murder trial. Can Kya overcome the prejudices of the townspeople in 1969? Will she ever find love and happiness? Or is she destined to be forever alone on the marsh.

The book passes back and forth between the present (1969) and the past (from the day her mother left to 1969). She does have interactions with several other characters and becomes successful in her own way, but she always feels a keen sense of loneliness at having no one to share her home on the marsh with. I can see why people like the book, the writing is thoughtful and the plot has all the makings of an enthralling whodunnit, complete with the righteous indignation that comes with watching someone who has been beaten down by life be wrongly accused.

The story felt kind of like 2 separate parts for me. Kya’s history, though SLOW, was compelling. It was interesting to watch how she made a life for herself in the marsh, and like I said, the author does a really good job of capturing the setting. But eventually the story descends into the murder trial, which in many ways felt to me like reading another book. I felt the tone didn’t fit in with everything that came before, and I’m sad to say it, but I just felt like it was a story I’d read many times before. The wrongfully accused individual who can’t overcome the prejudice of their time. Something about it just didn’t work for me. The setting and writing were pretty enough, but mostly I was just bored.

So overall I was left feeling a little bit disappointed with this book. It may be a problem of over-hype and ultimately it just didn’t live up to it. If you loved this book, I’m happy for you and really mean no offense, I guess it just wasn’t for me.

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