‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens

This tops my list for the best fiction I’ve read this year, and might even make it into my top ten ever.

Kya lives a lonely life near a remote marsh in North Carolina. One by one, everyone in her family has left her to fend for herself which she does with incredible resilience and patient survival.  The very marsh she lives in, with abundant life that she is endlessly curious about and becomes exceptionally knowledgeable in, becomes her emotional and mental sustenance.

Suffering shunning by the townspeople, who label her the “Marsh Girl,” she attends only one day of school in the town, yet lives a life of learning alone in the marsh that she calls home. She is drawn at different times to two young men from town, who are intrigued by her wild beauty, but Kya is terrified of trusting anyone besides herself. When she finally opens up to a new and startling world of relationship–the unthinkable happens–handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, and the locals of Barkley Cove immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl, of murder.

I loved this book because it was so satisfying, well described, and compelling till the very end.  It is tragic yet unsentimental, sensual and mysterious. Kya as a character is one I will never forget. Her strength and resilience are remarkable and her instincts are fascinating.

The author’s early life as a wildlife researcher, and conservationist in Africa, sheds light for me on how she could so well portray the wonder of nature and so effectively capture the sense of isolation one feels in a remote location. She and her husband wrote Cry of the Kalahari and two other books when they were scientists studying and living amongst African wildlife in the Kalahari Desert and later in Zambia. She now lives in Idaho. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel. Her life story is hugely interesting: click here.

2 responses to “‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens

  1. This is one of my favorites of the year too! It haunted me long after I finished it!

    • I know right, I keep thinking about it too. What I found hugely thought-provoking was what effect growing up alone had on her, and the meshing of her keen ‘almost animal-like’ instincts together with her human need for relationship and community. Would make for a great discussion!

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