Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens

Summary: 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.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review:  I enjoyed this book quite a lot. I’ve said this many times, but one of the things I love about a good book is the ambiance it creates. I love reading books about places I know, but I also really love being transported to a place I’ve never been, and it’s a whole new ballgame if it’s a place I will never be able to go to. Now. Will I be able to go to the swamps and backwaters of the North Carolina coast? Maybe. I mean, I could probably physically get there if I flew there and then hired some guy to take me to the swamps, but could I ever really visit the time and place of this book? Or get into the culture of it? Nope. And that is super intriguing. My undergrad degree is in sociocultural anthropology, and it is pretty much the coolest thing I’ve ever studied and I still love it. I love culture, I love seeing different cultures and people in it, and I am especially intrigued if those cultures take place in my own country in a surprising way. I love that we’re not all homogeneous. It’s super easy to think that we are, really, especially now with the internet and social media. It seems like we’re all the same. But no. We’re not. There are still pockets of people out there living completely differently than you could ever imagine, and this book embraces that and all the questions that come with it.

This book is not without its heartache. The main character experiences so much abandonment and abuse and trauma in her life, and that obviously takes a toll on her (and the reader, by extension). However, I loved the people in the book who surrounded her. There were a few kind people who were brave and willing to befriend her or include her, and that made a huge difference. There were other not-so-brave ones, but that made the book feel authentic and challenging. In fact, this is one of the things that I really appreciated about the book—it made me question myself and the people around me. Am I as kind as I should be? Am I willing to give people the benefit of the doubt? Do I judge people unfairly just because they're different from me or I don't understand them? I think that any reader of this book should ask themselves those questions, and then seriously consider the ramifications of what happens in this book and how we can prevent those things from happening in the real world.

I really enjoyed the story in this book. I thought it was compelling and had a lot of depth to it. There were a lot of surprises, but they felt natural and like they took the natural route instead of being contrived by the author who had an agenda or an idea of what was supposed to happen, even when the characters and story didn’t warrant it.

Owens is a very talented author, and her quiet prose is beautiful and poignant. This is the kind of book that you appreciate reading while you’re reading it. It’s hard to read because some of the content is painful, but she guides you through it so gently that you find yourself grateful for the opportunity. I think this is a great book, and I highly recommend it.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: This book has some language and difficult sexual situations. It is not overly violent or the language too offensive.

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