Who knew that I would be writing another, not so favourable review so quickly?! Unless you have been living under a rock (or, abandoned by your family on the North Carolina coast in the marshland) I’m sure you’ve heard of Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. A Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, I picked it up
The Goodreads synopsis: 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.
I don’t actually know what I expected when I picked up this book. I didn’t know that it was supposed to be a bit of a mystery until I read the blurb on the back of the book. For all the praise that had been floating around, I really didn’t know what it was supposed to be about.
Delia Owens is not new to writing, even still, as a debut fiction novel, it was pretty great. Her knowledge of the natural world absolutely shone through on every page and if you love books that put nature front and centre, you will love this.
I don’t mind a story with an unreliable narrator/protagonist – it keeps things interesting for a change – but I didn’t understand the choice in this book (this is me trying not to spoil anything!) When I finally made it to the end of the entire ordeal that is this book, I was left extremely unsatisfied. I closed it just thinking … what? My mouth was not agape in shock, I wasn’t left nodding my head like justice had been served – my brow was furrowed and I wondered why I had wasted my time.
My time wasn’t unpleasantly wasted, however. There was a lot about this story that I actually enjoyed and I was turning the pages like I rarely have with a book so far this year, but that’s what made me so frustrated when it ended and I had no strong reaction.
I thought a lot of the relationships were fantastic and I enjoyed the secondary characters – I wanted to know more about Jumper and his family, for sure. I thought Tate was fantastic too and all of his choices were realistic to me – even if they were a little heartbreaking.
Again, all of the elements of nature that were brought into this story were so beautiful and I loved that Kya was able to earn her living through nature too – it was a great choice. I could quite happily ignore all the poetry, especially the ‘reveal’ at the end. Far too obvious and, I thought, unnecessary.
I keep changing my star rating on Goodreads from 4 to 3 – but I think it will stay at 3 for now, 4 seems a little too generous. I read this book over a month ago now and it’s had no lasting impact on me at all. The glowing reviews online are a little over the top, I think. Everything felt a bit like it was trying just a little bit too hard and, while I still enjoyed it, I wanted something more from it and it was just … lacking.
That said, it’s one of those books that I will undoubtedly recommend to the right person. It’s not particularly difficult and it has an ending that some might find intriguing (others will find predictable).
Have you read Where the Crawdads Sing? What did you think?