Roar writer Manya Sareen reviews “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens.
Over the past few years, I went from reading two books a week to being unable to read more than two pages at a time. This was before I heard about “Where the Crawdads Sing,” which I had inadvertently dismissed, considering it to be an average John Green/Cecilia Ahern YA romance. But after months of my Instagram being flooded with great reviews, I decided to give it a try. I finished the novel within 12 hours of receiving it – needless to say I loved it!
The book follows the protagonist Kya, a white girl living in the swamps of North Carolina through the ages of six to twenty-five. It begins by establishing her attachment to the marsh and a family life consisting of an abusive father, a mother who leaves her children and her siblings – all of whom decided to abandon her with the abusive father (no spoilers, this happens in the first ten pages and needless to say, I bawled my eyes out).
She continues trying to figure life out, by cooking for herself, going to the grocery store alone, all while being mocked as the “Marsh Girl”. Nature, her only true companion keeps her grounded and teaches her all she needs to know about life. As the story progresses, she is taught to read and write by her brother’s friend, Tate who eventually becomes her first source of comfort and subsequently, love. As she grows up and matures, she also finds love in Chase Andrews, a slightly older rich boy with a large group of friends. Their relationship, although not as intense, is equally influential. While all these elements might seem rather surface level and “basic”, the story beautifully meanders through various issues she comes across ranging from menstruation to racial discrimination.
A parallel plot that runs on alternate chapters is the death of a boy, discovered to be Chase Andrews, whom they suspect has been murdered. As the plot “thickens”, the years ultimately converge revealing; Kya’s destiny and Chase Andrew’s fate.
Delia Owen’s has brought to life a more nuanced story than an average YA romance. Although set in the 1950-60s, her description of Kya’s life and the complexities of societies are extremely current. Halfway through I found out that Daisy Edgar Jones plays Kya in the upcoming film adaptation, and she matched the vision in my head perfectly – an added bonus. Although I found the ending quite predictable, I wasn’t let down because the imagery in the book was unbelievable and I was happy to continue the journey with Kya. The book left me yearning for more but at the same time, satisfied!
This book is perfect if you are looking for something immersive, emotional, warm and a touch suspenseful!