If you’re looking for a book that could be a great one to read and enjoy, choose Where the Crawdads Sing and let this book talk to you.
Where the Crawdads Sing, written by Delia Owens, was published in August of 2018 and took off in popularity this past summer, spending 54 weeks and counting on the New York Times Best Seller List, including in the number one spot. Actress Reese Witherspoon endorsed the novel and hundreds of thousands of people purchased and read the book.
The book centers on Kya, a young girl who is growing up alone in North Carolina’s marsh after she is abandoned by her family and shunned by the small town outside of the marsh. The plot flashes from the past, where Kya is growing up and falling in love with two boys named Tate and Chase, to the present, where Chase has been found dead and Kya is a suspect for his murder. Is all the hype really justifiable? Let’s find out, and take an in-depth look at some of the highlights of Where the Crawdads Sing.
The Character Development
Where the Crawdads Sing has two different timelines, one of which focuses completely on watching Kya grow up and watching her develop. Kya is isolated from much human contact, ends up educating herself after Tate teaches her how to read, and finds herself both falling in love and closing herself off, remembering that she has been abandoned before.
It is quite possible that you have never read about a character like Kya before, and have never experienced such great character development as the kind found in this novel. At the beginning of the book, Kya is a young, innocent, scared girl who has just been abandoned by the only people she’s ever known and isn’t sure what her next step should be. Throughout the course of the novel, Kya develops into beautiful, mature young women who have survived abuse and abandonment and learn what true love is.
She becomes highly intelligent as she learns to read and document the flora and fauna around her in the marsh. By the time the two timelines converge and Kya has grown as a character, reads will be asking themselves if the “Marsh Girl” is really capable of murder. One of the best elements of Where the Crawdads Sing is the beautiful, complex character that Kya is, along with the message that the environment shapes a person.
The Murder Mystery
At the beginning of the novel, in one of the present-day chapters, it is revealed that Chase Andrews, the town “golden-boy” has been found lying under the fire tower, dead. Across the course of the book, the present-day chapters discuss the information and evidence that has been brought forth, while the chapters that take place in the past reveal Kya and Chase’s relationship and why Kya has been considered a suspect for his death.
The two timelines converge when Kya is arrested for Chase’s murder and her trial begins. The trial takes up a large chunk of the second half of the book and is considered by many to be the best part. The experience is strange for Kya, who never professes whether or not she is guilty, and who hasn’t seen most of the townsfolk in years.
The suspense builds as the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney go back and forth, taking evidence from the sheriff, Chase Andrews’ mother, and other witnesses, as well as proposing theories of how Kya would have been able to pull off the crime and evidence as to how she couldn’t have. The trial is followed by the verdict, as well as a few twists and turns in the end that many would not have seen coming.
The Writing Style
The setting plays a crucial role in Where the Crawdads Sing. Kya grows up in North Carolina’s beautiful marsh, studying the diversity in the plants and animals around her home, as well as other aspects of biology. Because the setting is so important, there is a lot of descriptive writing in this novel, which some readers strongly disliked and others enjoyed it.
If you enjoy learning more about the setting and how it impacts the characters, you won’t mind a large amount of description Delia Owens puts into the book, but if you are more plot-oriented and want to see more of the story develop, the first part of the novel will likely be very slow for you.
However, the second part of the writing style, the two timelines, serve to help with the prospect of the background being too slow; the murder investigation comes in to break up the description and allows readers to draw their own conclusions about whether or not they believe Kya is guilty and her motives if she did indeed murder Chase Andrews.
The Bottom Line
Where the Crawdads Sing is a cozy, Southern novel that feels both familiar and unique. There’s a reason it has spent so much time on the New York Time’s Best Seller List and has sold more than a million copies. Pick up this book for a dose of a murder mystery and Southern culture and see for yourself if Where the CrawdadsSing is worth all the five-star reviews.