As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I don’t often read novels because I feel like I should spend my precious reading-time for educational purposes like books on health and faith. Then again, reading for pleasure is so much better for us grandmas than watching TV or thumbing through social media, right? On a recent trip across the country, I decided to take along a book I’ve had for some time that came highly recommended. There is nothing like a three hour plane ride to start a great book, and I’m so glad I did.
Kya, the main character in “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, is a young girl who lives in a shack on the marsh of Coastal North Carolina in the 1950s. Her highly dysfunctional family is lead by an abusive father. When the story starts, first her mother and then her brother desert their home to escape the abuse, leaving her all alone with her alcoholic dad. She is so often left alone that she learns to live off the land, trust herself only, and escape the societal norms, such as attending school. The local small town labels her as the “Marsh Girl” and she is ostracized by the townspeople.
There is a secondary tale that unfolds separately in the time-stamped chapters. It is a murder investigation of a local young man and former star athlete who appears to have been pushed to his death from the town’s fire-tower in 1969. The reader is taken from Kya’s coming-of-age in the 1950s and 1960s to the murder investigation, chapter by chapter, effectively leading the reader to discover the connection between Kya and the murder victim.
The author’s marvel of North Carolina’s marsh and wildlife is phenomenal and left me longing to be there. Her historical description of small-town southern life reminded me of another famous novel that is also a favorite of mine, “To Kill a Mockingbird." The author does a great job of creating suspense with her flash forward writing. She accurately illustrates a society that can reject people simply because they are poor and born into dysfunction.
This book was so enjoyable, that it was hard to put down and when I was finished, even though I felt the conclusion was satisfying and well written, I was longing to read more. That’s my idea of a great novel.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!