Well summer has flown by! I can’t believe it’s September, but I’m glad it is. Fall is my favorite season, and I was thrilled to see leaves changing as I took my dogs for their walks over the last week or so. I’m also enjoying the cooler nights and pumpkin decorations at the stores, and of course, I’m ready for all things magical and spooky when it comes to books! I’ve been re-reading the Harry Potter series as it’s been years since I’ve given them a read, and they are just as good as I remember them. I’m also looking forward to some new fall releases. But first, end of summer reading…
My favorite book of the summer was by far Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I had heard about this book months before I picked it up. I gifted it to my mom for Mother’s Day this spring as she had also heard about it and couldn’t wait to read it. We weren’t disappointed.
Crawdads takes place in the rural marsh land of North Carolina mainly around the 1950s. The protagonist is a young woman named Kya Clark, who is introduced as a young girl but grows up throughout the story. Known as the “Marsh Girl,” Kya is an outcast in town, where everyone knows her family is dirt poor, with only a tiny shack and a boat to their name. Kya soon finds herself having to fend for herself and manages to survive thanks to her knowledge of the natural world. The story alternates between a murder investigation in the 1960s and Kya’s upbringing in the 1950s and ‘60s.
I will be completely honest here and admit that I did not get into this story right away. I think this is important for me to share since prior to reading it, I had only heard things like, “It’s so good!” and, “I couldn’t put it down!” So once I was a few chapters in, I found myself wondering, “What’s up with me? Am I just not getting it?”
Turns out, the answers are nothing and no. Once I reached around the 100 page mark, I couldn’t put the book down. The pace picked up, and I had been completely drawn into the story. Additionally, I voiced this concern on Instagram, and learned that I was not the only one who found the beginning a bit slow. Other readers told me that they had actually given up on the book after a few chapters because they weren’t into it and thought the same thing – maybe it was just them and they weren’t clicking with the character or story. I’m happy to report that some readers told me they will pick the book up again and give it another go once I shared that it started slow for me too.
The beginning is a good amount of laying the background for Kya’s story, which is necessary. Then Kya’s timeline speeds up around 100 pages in, and things start happening quickly. There are some surprises throughout the story – some good, some bad, and some you’ll have to decide for yourself. This is especially true for a huge twist I never saw coming at the end!
The characters were very well-written and developed. I loved the characters of Jumpin’ and his wife, Mabel, a black couple who showed kindness to Kya. They were all too familiar with how prejudice people can be toward those who look or act differently and helped look out for the Marsh Girl.
Ms. Owens has a gift with words. A primary rule of writing is “show, don’t tell,” and she accomplished this in spades. Her descriptions of the marsh were incredibly vivid. I think that’s part of why this book has been so well-received – the poetic words flow off the page and readers aren’t just reading the story – they’re in the story.
Overall, Crawdads is a beautifully written book filled with emotion and will make you stop and reflect after you’ve finished it. My mom and I both found it reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird. Kya is one of my favorite literary characters. She will draw you right into the North Carolina marsh with her. You might even want to cover your tracks and hide out there awhile.