Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen
This little diddy of a book was such a great pick. We just finished this for our book club and I cannot wait to hear what all my book peeps have to say about it. Reese Witherspoon’s book club has really great picks. The author studies animals in Africa and wrote a bunch of memoirs. This is her first try at fiction and wow did she deliver. It seems I have reviewed a lot of first books for authors lately. Where is Crawdads Sing is a great coming of age wrapped up in a murder mystery with a dollop of nature! P.S. Reese is making this book into a movie !!!!
This story takes place in the 1950s to 1970s. It starts off outlining a murder of a local boy Chase Andrews who is found in the swamp in 1969. He is the town’s golden boy. Star football jock, parents own the local automotive shop and of course he married the local pretty girl.
1953 the main character Kay is the youngest of 5 children who all live in poverty in the marshlands near Barkley Cove. Their mother leaves which puts them in the care of their drunken father. All of her siblings eventually leave so it is just her and her Pa.
Being left alone with her abusive and absent father Kay has to learn to survive on her own. What does a young girl do when she is left to her own devices? Kay learns to care for herself, stretch a penny and cook grits.
She was so alone that when she stepped on a rusted nail she had to treat it by herself. She used everything from the marsh, which became like a mother to her and the gulls became her friends.
Jump to the crime scene in 69- no fingerprints or footprints were found. Looked like the scene was wiped free or someone familiar to the marsh committed it. There was no blood on the bars and the floor door was left open.
After Pa lest Kay as well and the money ran out Kay has to learn to make money for herself. She dug up muscles and sold them to Jumpin a local merchant. What seer will power and survival skills Kay exhibits to figure this out herself.
As time goes on she sees no one but someone keeps leaving precious feathers out for her to find. It turns out that it was a local boy Tate, who was Kay’s older brothers friend. He teaches her how to read and becomes her one true friend besides the gull and march creatures.
I love when the title is explained. Somewhere near the middle of the book Where the crawdads sing is explained – its far in the bush where critters are wild, still behaving like critters- hide there. I’m taking it as Kay living in the marsh being the truest form of a human and where humans still behave like humans. Where as in town everyone is concerned with status and money Where the Crawdad’s sing is about getting to your roots and living your most true self- feel free to disagree with me, it’s just my opinion
Kay and Tate’s relationship blooms and soon they share one of the most romantic first kisses I have ever read. In the marsh with flowers and leaves flying around in the air. 1960 Tate has to go off to university leaving Kay alone again, just like everyone else in her life. It is just as heartbreaking for the reader. All I wanted for Kay was to have someone to love her after being alone for so long but alas out heart breaks again.
1965 enter Chase. This is when Chase firsts notices Kay now 19. He finds her wild and unconventional being intriguing and wants to be the first to ‘peg her’. It was Chase her took Kay to the fire tower where he would later be found dead. Kay gave him a shell necklace there that was not on his body when he died. He talks about marriage with Kay and strings her along for his own selfish reasons.
Tate comes back into Kay’s life to warn her about Chase’s intentions. He sees Kay’s march collection and believes she could get a book deal with all her knowledge. Tate reveals that he was selfish and scary and a coward to leave Kay. Kay not knowing how to forgive as everyone in her life has let her down and abandoned her dismisses him. But she soon finds out through the local newspaper that Chase is indeed engaged to another girl.
Tate comes back once again into Kay’s life to see her published book on local seashells. They have always shared a love for the marsh, A book about marsh books is to follow for $5000, she got to furnish her shack.
Now this is where the book picks up and changes its feel. I’m not going to lie, I did find the beginning of the book a bit slow but still good. The second half of the book is fast paced and exciting.
The second half of the book is Kay being on trial for Chase Andrews murder. The local sheriff tried to get a motive – Chase not choosing Kay. He has her getting on and off the bus to meet her publisher but it also gives her a time frame to meet and push Chase. There are red fibers found on Chase, could be from Kay’s red hat.
1970 as the trial starts to comes to light that Chase tired to rape Kay and it was seen by local fisherman. Being an outcast it was easy for the town people to pin all the behaviour on Kay and not their golden boy Chase.
Tate continues to visit Kay while in jail. Waiting for the verdict in jail is a different kind of loneliness for Kay. She can see and smell her beloved marsh through the bars in her cell.
The verdict comes back not guilty to everyone’s surprise. Tate and Kay live out their lives in their beloved marsh together, finally. Jodie her brothers keeps in contact and visits often. Finally Kay has a loving family she longed for for so long.
Kay died in her 60’s fittingly drifting off in her boat along the waterways of her march. Take then finds the shell necklace that Kay once gave Chase and a poem outlining that she really did kill Chase.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It was such a heroing tale of loneliness, survival and the importance of family ties. Not going to lie, I enjoyed the ending and finding out that Kay really killed Chase. I am not in any way condoning getting revenge but in a novel it was a nice twist. How did you like the book? How did you like the book? Please feel free to leave comments below .