Where the Crawdads Sing


Delia Owens

I had been eyeing Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens for a while, and it was worth the wait.  The story focuses on Kya, a child whose family slowly abandons her over time, through no fault of her own.  By her early teenage years, Kya is living alone in a North Carolina marsh, living off the ocean and the land.  Uneducated, dirty, and poorly clothed, the townspeople turn away from the person they refer to as “The Marsh Girl.” 

The book takes the reader back and forth between two narratives -- Kya’s childhood beginning in 1952 to 1969 where she is a young adult in her twenties.  The description of Kya’s early years pulls at your heartstrings.  How can anyone walk away from a child?  Trace, a kind boy from town who shares Kya’s love of all plants and creatures from the marsh teaches Kya to read.  Kya is a quick study and devours every botanical book available.  She also paints the plant and animal species from the marsh.  Owens intersperses information about the mating habits of animals as an analogy for how Kya is experiencing dating and love as she grows.  As a very young adult, and with the assistance of her friend Trace, Kya receives a publishing contract for her work and for the first time seems to be on solid ground. In the second narrative, life becomes complicated when a former beau of Kya’s is found dead in the marsh.  It’s not immediately known whether foul play is suspected but the story, told through the two narratives, builds towards murder over time culminating in Kya’s arrest.  Owens takes us through the investigation and court case.  I won’t spoil the story for you.  I will share that Owen’s does a good job of keeping the reader wondering “who dunnit” and includes a surprise twist at the end.