Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

I’m at the end of my transfer of Goodreads reviews to the blog, but I have two more books I’ve read this year that I apparently forgot to write Goodreads reviews of. So what follows is my review of Where the Crawdads Sing about a month after I finished it. That’s unusual because, as I’ve said, I tend to review right after I finish to give that fresh aftermath reaction. This book also marked my return to my reading groove. After the pandemic hit in March, I essentially took three months off from reading. You would think being locked down would mean more reading, and while it did, just not books (articles and news about the coronavirus).

No spoilers ahead.

Much like One D.O.A., One on the Way, I love the setting of this book; you’re going to pull me in when you go to the swamps. I’m not sure what it is about that setting that so appeals to me. Perhaps because it’s so foreign to a kid that grew up in the suburbs? I don’t know anything about that life, so a bit of an inside look is alluring.

In this case, we go to the swamps of North Carolina where we get to live with “Marsh Girl.”

That’s the derogatory name for Kya, a resourceful, brilliant girl who essentially lives on her own in the marsh. Her mother has left. Her siblings have left. And eventually, her dad leaves. In their wake, the one constant is nature, but also, she finds love, education, and pain.

Written by 70-something-year-old Delia Owens in her debut novel (message to writers: it’s never too late!), who is a retired wildlife biologist, this book really sings when it leans on her expertise of describing nature in all its beautiful and vibrant intricacies, the things we wouldn’t notice because we’re not living in the marsh. Life has gotten too fast, too blurry, too loud, that we don’t notice the beauty of nature around us.

That’s the message, at least, and it resonated with me to an extent. Not that I’m going to get out of this bed, discard my laptop, and take up ranks in the marsh. But, I do appreciate the idea of slowing down, remarking upon the moon and the stars, and the pretty flowers, and so forth.

Where the book doesn’t sing as much for me is in the love interest moments, and the dialogue of Kya during those moments. It didn’t seem as true to her, and felt a bit too young adult fiction for me (not that there’s anything wrong with young adult fiction, but it felt out of place here).

But, I will say, the relationship I did enjoy was the one she had with her dad, warts and all. It was poignant and touching in a much more subtle and less-obvious way than the love interests later on in the book.

This book also turns out, unexpectedly, to be a bit of a whodunnit, and that helped me devour it even more than I already was because I had to find out, well, whodunnit. Again, much like the romance part, it’s a bit more conventional than the uniqueness of the earlier nature elements, but even within the conventional tropes, there might be some unexpected, and pleasant, surprises.

More nature, less broken hearts. The nature parts are so good, that I can overlook those elements, and in my Goodreads rating, I still gave it five out of five stars.

If you’re looking for a good weekend read, you can’t go wrong with this one. So pull up a loin cloth and sit under the learning tree of the Marsh Girl.

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