Summary (from the publisher):
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
The hype for Where the Crawdads Sing finally got me.
Two of my friends had recently read Where the Crawdads Sing and told me I absolutely had to read it. One of them definitely got me by allowing me to borrow her copy. Since the library has been closed and I’m lacking in the physical books department, I took her up on her offer. Previously, Where the Crawdads Sing never really interested me. I had seen it on nearly every best-sellers and recommendations list since 2018. But there was something about the synopsis that never grabbed my attention. Some of my friends on Goodreads had mixed reviews, while I had also recently listened to an episode of Bad on Paper, where co-host Becca (who typically has reading tastes similar to me) said she did not understand the hype for it while co-host Grace loved it. Although I didn’t LOVE it like so many other readers, I did really enjoy Where the Crawdads Sing and do understand the hype. In short, this book has such a sad story, but there’s still this sense of hope and optimis that makes you hold out for the characters and want to know more.
I didn’t refresh myself on the synopsis when I picked it up, but basically had a reviewer’s description (girl who is (unrealistically) abandoned to live in a marsh falls in love with two boys) in my head. Where the Crawdad Sings alternates between two timelines, following the main character Kya’s growing up in the North Carolina marshland and, set later in time, the town’s murder mystery. Kya’s storyline eventually catches up with the present’s murder mystery. The biggest adjustment for me in reading Where the Crawdads Sing was its writing style. The book heavily relies on Southern drawl reminiscent I assume of the 1950s/1960s and reminded me of some classic books I had read for school that took place in the South. I still feel mixed about it, partly because it felt very stereotypical and was hard to understand at times, but I guess was authentic to the times and Kya’s lack of education and social interaction. I was a little uninterested in the first few chapters. I was also not interested in the marsh/nature descriptions and the poems (although I did like the later reveal about them). Once I was more familiar with the world, and as Kya begin to grow up, I was more invested. I think the point for me that made me need to keep reading was when Kya and a boy from town, Tate, start meeting so he can teach her how to read. Tate, Jumpin, and Mabel, aka Kya’s three biggest supporters, were definitely my favorite characters. Kya is someone hard to connect with, but her history with her family, living on her own, and relationship with the townspeople completely explains why.
The love triangle and what happens to Kya with one of the men was unexpected. I knew Kya would be involved in the mystery somehow, but not for the reason I would’ve guessed. What happens between her and the second love interest, Chase, is what I believe really makes readers draw the connection between this book and present times. It was definitely difficult to read and even more harder to see Kya’s fate towards the end of the book.
Overall, Where the Crawdads Sing was worth the hype. Has it become a favorite read of mine? No. But would I recommend it to someone who does have some interest in it? Absolutely! While I had to adjust to the reading style and hold off some disbelief, Where the Crawdads Sing is a really powerful story.
Have you read Where the Crawdads Sing? What were your thoughts? Share in the comments!