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Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens

Updated: Apr 11, 2021

My English teacher was the one who introduced me to this work of art. I was kind of intrigued, but my English teacher has, let's say, an interesting taste. I had completely forgotten about it until I just saw it in the corner of my eye, and bought it on an impulse. And, to be honest, I am so, so glad I did.

I was shocked when I learned this was Ms. Owen's debut novel. Previously she has studied nature at length and wrote non-fiction on wildlife, and she has definitely utilised this knowledge in Crawdads. Most authors attempting to do this end up spouting facts like a volunteer tour guide, but this was a graceful demonstration of understanding.

Where the Crawdads Sing is set in the marshlands of North Carolina, a perfectly chosen environment for our protagonist, Kya. Kya has been abandoned from a young age, so has to survive the marsh and

the townspeople from Barkley Cove. Her personality is expressed gently through hints, a feature that I love, but other readers may find too fiddly and wearisome to read, which I can understand. Another feature I adore in this book is how it jumps in the timeline, from Kya's childhood to the 'present day' (actually 1969), yet other readers may find this slightly confusing, although Owens makes everything so clear and concise I don't see how.

The author writes in the third person, which, personally, I am usually not the biggest fan of, but she is so intimate with each character (especially Kya) it feels as if we are directly eavesdropping on their thoughts and feelings. This ability also enables Owens to make the reader feel how she wants them to feel, whether that's guilt or happiness or even peacefulness (how?? I still don't understand). Some quite heavy topics are discussed, but handled delicately and not explicitly.

Basically, I loved this book. It was a little bit long-winded for me, but I am quite determined and managed to read this in 4 days. This book would be perfect for a book club; not too hard to read and many topics of discussion can be extracted. I give this one a 9/10.

Trigger Warnings: aspects of racism, attempted rape, domestic abuse

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