I had high expectations for Where the Crawdads Sing because of how popular it is and because it sounded like something I would enjoy. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy this book, and I can’t wrap my head around its Goodreads stats. Over one million ratings, more than 100,000 reviews, and a 4.46 star rating. I ranted about how disappointed I was in this book to my family, so since that’s out of my system, my review will be tamer. My review is full of spoilers because I assume most people have read this book. If you haven’t, skip to the “overall” section for a spoiler-free summary of my thoughts.
- Name: Where the Crawdads Sing
- Author: Delia Owens
- Genre: historical ficiton, mystery, romance
- Page count: 400 (paperback)
- Published: August 14, 2018
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.
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.
*big spoilers ahead*
This book is split into two parts and in the first part, three main things happen. Kya’s mother and older siblings abandon her, followed by her father. The authorites try to enroll her in school, but she’s bullied on the first day and never returns. The other major event is that she meets Tate when she’s 14. He teaches her to read and they gradually develop a romantic relationship. Part 1 is so mundane that I couldn’t develop an interest or attachment to Kya or the plot.
The only characters I liked were Jumpin’ and Mabel because unlike the rest of the townspeople, they didn’t ostracize Kya. It was so sweet how they looked out for her and treated her like family. That’s not to say that I disliked Kya, but I didn’t connect with her emotionally.
I liked the parts of the book that involved the murder investigation and the court trial. Aside from that, I thought Kya’s days in the marsh were dull and repetitive. Although, I liked the parts where she described how insects mate because it was a chilling metaphor for her relationship with Chase.
Tate is Kya’s first love. My problem with their relationship is the age difference. Kya is barely 15 when they meet, and he’s turning 19. Maybe this wouldn’t have been a big deal in the 60’s, but I was uncomfortable with it. In the beginning, Tate lusts after her, and the author tries to make this less creepy by making Kya look mature for her age. He doesn’t take her virginity, but the effort it takes him to restrain himself was gross.
The dialogue sounded unnatural and I wasn’t into the southern dialect. For example, “Thar was sump’m else too, I just cain’t r’member.”
I have to throw in how Kya is illiterate until the age of 15 and grows up mostly in isolation, but is magically able to become an award-winning author and recognized biologist. It’s not realistic at all!
Kya’s relationship with Chase was even worse. She’s older when they date, but she’s more guarded after having her heart broken by Tate. Chase uses his status and charm to manipulate Kya and then betrays her. I was horrified by the way he sexually assaulted her and it made me like this book even less than before.
The ending was predictable. I started thinking Delia Owens wasn’t going to reveal Chase’s killer because it was heavily implied. The fact that there was only one suspect and no twists was boring.
I know I’m in the minority here, so I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading this book. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but I feel like that’s bound to happen from time to time, even with bestsellers. Where the Crawdads Sing is tragic, but it has some beautiful messages about the circle of life. What it isn’t is a nail-biting murder mystery featuring a love story that will make you swoon. If you’re a fan of coming-of-age stories and enjoy themes like survival and hope, then this book might be for you.
Blog rating: 2 stars | Goodreads rating: 1 star