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September 27th, 2023

where the crawdads sing spotlight pageELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Last Friday I made a stop at the library before going home for the night after work for some entertainment that would suffice for me during the weekend. Among the books I checked out was one I’ve been seeing on the bestselling books list on this page for quite some time now – Delia Owens’ “Where the Crawdads Sing.” 

It seems like every other visit to the library, this particular book was checked out, so I hadn’t yet gotten the chance to read it. When I finally saw it on the shelves Friday night, I said to myself “OK, I’ve been seeing this book title on my page for the past several weeks now, let’s see what the talk is all about.”

And ultimately, I’m very glad I picked it up. 

The novel follows two separate yet intertwined stories – the first timeline describes the life of Kya, who has been dubbed “The Marsh Girl” by the citizens of nearby Barkley Cove, as she grows up isolated in the marsh of North Carolina after being abandoned by her family. The second timeline follows the murder investigation (during which Kya becomes the prime suspect and eventually goes on trial for) of Chase Andrews, a prominent citizen of Barkley Cove.

The first thing I have to commend about this book is Kya’s character, because she is written VERY well. Abandoned by her family at a far too young age and dubbed an outcast by the members of the nearby community, Owens could have gone for the cliché of having Kya become embittered at the world and cast aside all human connection, but she doesn’t. Instead, Kya is a strong, educated woman who actually does make a few true connections in her life – ultimately, her attitude is one akin to the “Do what you gotta do” saying, and I really liked that. After her trial for Chase’s murder, Kya even makes it a point to tell her brother, Jodie (who she reunites with later in the novel) something along the lines of even though she was the one who was laughed at and ostracized and had to deal with everything in her life on her own, she never felt hatred toward anyone in the community or even toward her family members for leaving. It’s very refreshing for that type of characterization to happen and I’m really glad that’s how Owens wrote the character. 

Another thing is while there is a bit of a love story sprinkled through between Kya and childhood friend Tate Walker, it doesn’t become the focal point of the story and I love how for most of the book, Kya is actually independent and doesn’t necessarily need a love interest – it’s a situation where she’s happy if she does have someone to love as a partner, but she’s also perfectly fine if she doesn’t. I also liked how, even though Kya gradually comes out of her shell, there’s not a big deal made about her shyness and no one tries to drastically change her to be more outgoing. That’s another thing that’s refreshing because too many times, being more shy and introverted is seen as a flaw to be overcome – in this novel, it’s just an accepted part of Kya’s personality. 

Another thing I enjoyed about the book was the description of the settings and scenery. The marsh and cabin where Kya lives for the majority of the story all but come to life (as does the nearby community of Barkley Cove and its citizens) as you read the details and it makes the reading experience so much more enjoyable when you can properly imagine the setting of the story. And it’s all written in such a way that everyone can imagine/understand what’s being described and there’s not any confusing jargon of the to sift through. I imagine Owens wanted to be as accurate as possible while describing everything (while also being artistic about it), and it shows throughout the book. 

Another thing I liked about the book was the writing style. It’s written for the everyday person and there’s no pretension or anything like that, so it makes for an easy read. It’s also paced exactly right and in such a way that you want to keep turning the page and find out what happens next. The writing is also pretty tight and there’s not really any extra unnecessary details that detract from the story, so it’s also a somewhat quick read. And every character is written as a real life full-blooded human being instead of being just caricatures, which is another thing I really liked. 

Overall, I very much enjoyed “Where the Crawdads Sing” and I’m glad I finally got the chance to read a book I’ve seen on this page here for so many weeks – ultimately, I would give the book an “A-minus” grade. I loved the characters, the settings and descriptions and the overall setup of the story. It’s also tight and well written and makes for a very good lazy afternoon (or weekend) read. If you are a fan of light mystery stories and/or coming-of-age stories, “Where the Crawdads Sing” should be on your reading list for the near future.