Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Reviewed by Allen Hott

I have been reading and hearing about this one for quite a-while and was not too sure that I wanted to read it. Thought it would be too poo-poo or womanly if you prefer. But not only was I surprised but really I have to agree with everyone else. Where the Crawdads Sing is truly a great read.

“Marsh Girl” or Kya Clark which is her real name lives quite a different life from most folks. She grows up in the marshland outside of Barkley Cove, North Carolina. She has one of the strangest lives that can be imagined. Her family lives in a run-down shack and is pretty much bossed by the father of the family. But one day her mother leaves (because of the father’s actions) and never returns. Then as time passes each of Kya’s brothers and sister also leave.

She is left alone at about five or six years of age and has only her father living there. And even though he seemed to cool his temperament and accept Kya he still never really stayed to care for her. He would wander off for days or even weeks at a time leaving her on her own. She quickly learned to fend for herself by living off of her own cooking of vegetables that she could find or raise.

Kya was basically a “no-no” when it came to the townspeople as they (other than the truant officer once or twice) had nothing to do with her. The one time she was basically dragged to school she was so humiliated by the other children she vowed to never return. She would only go to the wharf where a black couple ran a store and sold gas. Kya found that they would buy mussels and other items that she could find in and around the marsh. That money provided her with gas and some money to buy basic food items though quite meager. By this time her Pa had never returned from his last walking off.

As Kya grew she was able to care for herself very well and she also was becoming more and more of a naturalist around the marshes. Almost on accident she meets another youngster, Tate, who is very much enamored with her and her lifestyle. Tate is also not only a person with lots of marsh sense and knowledge but he grows into becoming a marsh expert. He, unlike Kya, does get
a proper education and while doing so he slowly but surely brings her along by teaching her to read, write, and paint. All of these help her as she grows older.

While traveling around the marshes in her boat she does become quite noticeable and eventually another young man, Chase, follows her home. The two of them become quite friendly although he is quite a different individual. Chase is basically a well provided for young man and because of his stature he pretty much gets what he wants. Kya is torn at first with her feelings between Tate and Chase. Basically she almost feels she should be with neither and just stay alone with her marsh friends and feelings.

But it all changes and the changes are quite significant. The story develops into not just a great story of a person’s feelings but it also becomes a story of a possible murder and then a really intense trial. So as not to ruin anyone’s enjoyment attained from reading Where the Crawdads Grow I will leave it here. If you like to read great books you will want to read this one, it is really a great read!