Some books call out to me the minute I set my eyes on the cover. WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING is one of those novels!
The opening scenes drew me in. The characters and moving writing kept me going. And going. I loved this book!!
This novel can not be compartmentalized. It’s got so many dimensions that make it so very important. What a story.
Delia Owens has written other books, all non fiction nature books. She’s got a background that oozes with uniqueness and screams to be read. In fact, I think you all will be very interested to hear more about her. So I will post a conversation with her at some point.
The prologue begins in the swamp within the marsh along the coast of North Carolina. The year is 1969. The body of Chase Andrews is found lying in the muck. Was he murdered? That’s the mystery.
Back up to 1952. Here begins the story of a young girl who’s suddenly abandoned by her mother, left with her siblings and alcoholic father. Mom just packed a blue train case with a scant amount of personal items and left the hovel they lived in without a backward glance. It’s a heartbreaking scene and you are left to wonder how she could do it. Soon, you will see all too well.
One by one Kya’s sisters and brothers all leave until only dear old dad is left. He comes and mostly goes until Kya is ten. Then where does he go?
Kya Clark is the “Marsh Girl.” She’s been raising her own self since the age of six. She lives alone in Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild. When Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya. He was known to have a relationship with her when they were in their teens…
Delia Owens’ lyrical and gripping debut novel, is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising account of a murder investigation. Fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell will admire this stunning novel as Owens, a New York Times-bestselling nature writer, masterfully reveals the intricate beauties of nature through the eyes of a young girl abandoned by her family in the North Carolina Marshland.
I am still marveling at the depth and scope of the life that Kya slowly and quietly builds for herself in an area of the country that was wild and mostly unknown at this time period. I can’t imagine living a life of such solitude as an adult let alone as a vulnerable child. She’s learned to use Nature as her bible.
Delia Owens says, ” The coastal marsh of North Carolina, and Nature in general, is definitely a character of the novel. As one line of the story reads, …Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother. After her family left her, Kya had no one but Nature to teach her about life, and there is no better teacher if we take the time to observe and listen to the wild. Kya honed her skills of harvesting mussels by watching the crows; she learned about dishonest signals from the fireflies; she learned about loyalty and friends from the seagulls.”
WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING is written by an author who knows about surviving in the wild. Delia Owens has spent more than twenty years living in Africa while studying brown hyenas, elephants, and most primates. She did not live among other humans but with the wild animals themselves. She points out how the females bond and live in social groups. In her novel Kya has lost her group.
Yes, this novel is a murder mystery. And yet it’s so much more than that. So much more. I found myself feeling so compelled to learn more about Delia Owens and her life in Africa. I was shelving a book in the nature section at Copperfish Books last week. I noticed a beat up used copy of CRY OF THE KALAHARI
by Delia and Mark Owens. I felt like I had won the jackpot. Bought the book, took it home, put all else aside, and began to read. I quickly found myself lost in the no-man’s land of Africa, a place no humans but Delia and Mark had been. And I was a lost soul. I had deadlines to meet, places to go, people to be in touch with. But I did nothing but read this book. The writing is amazing and the true story is nothing short of fascinating.
Delia has co-authored three non fiction nature books. One I just mentioned. Then comes THE EYE OF THE ELEPHANT and finally SECRETS OF THE SAVANNAH. You may want to plow right through them once you read WHERE THE CRAWDAD’S SING.
I will tell you this, I don’t know how she did it, but Owens kept the suspense building and I did not see the end coming. It kept me riveted to the page all along.
This amazing novel is coming with me to all my lectures this season! I can’t wait to tell everyone about this story. And I will be screaming to the rooftops how much I love Delia Owens!
My gorgeous finished hardcopy arrived form G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. I totally LOVED it!
You can pick up your own copy of WHERE THE CRAWDAD’S SING at Copperfish Books.
They are discounted 20% off. You NEED this book. It’s what I call an important book.