Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Title: Where the Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Genre: Mystery, Literary Fiction
My Rating: 5/5

“Autumn leaves don’t fall, they fly. They take their time and wander on this their only chance to soar.”

Kya Clark lived alone in the swamps of North Carolina after everyone she loved moved on, leaving her behind. She was forced to learn how to provide for herself at only 10 years old. Thankfully, a local black man and his wife took her under their wing and provided her with clothes and food in exchange for mussels. Being that the story took place in the 1950’s, when segregation was still in place, this relationship between Kya and the black couple was unusual, and in that sense beautiful. 

Seen as the outcast among the eyes of the other white patrons of the town, Kya struggled to connect with kids her age, all except for one boy named Tate. Kya and Tate’s friendship grew even stronger after a local boy named Chase Andrews was found dead. Together, they must uncover what happened to Chase, and clear Kya’s name.

“Most of what she knew, she’d learned from the wild. Nature had nurtured, tutored, and protected her when no one else would.”

This book has won many awards including being named “The Book of the Decade” by Business Insider and it is easy to see why. Where the Crawdads Sing could not have been more beautifully written. The dialogue of the protagonist was easily believable by matching her education status and environmental influences, showing her lack of phonetic knowledge and comparisons to swamp characteristics. In addition, the metaphors used throughout the story paint a vivid picture of what living in the swamps of North Carolina in the 1940’s would have looked like.

“Not waiting for the sounds of someone was a release. And a strength.”

Similar to Educated by Tara Westover, this book emphasizes the importance of an education and ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to be educated. It also has strong themes of racism and systematic oppression. The discrimination that both the black community members and Tara faced throughout this book was both infuriating and humbling. Delia Owens gracefully displayed the impact of discrimination and the obstacles that one must face to escape a reality that was set forth by the predetermined hatred of others.

“I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.”

I really enjoyed watching the relationships develop between Kya and the secondary characters. The mutual respect and love that Kya had with the black couple brought warmth to my heart. It displayed her innocence and lack of societal influence. I also appreciated the romance and mystery aspects of the book and the unpredictable twist at the end. Where the Crawdads Sing is a novel that goes beyond one genre and provides a story that everyone can enjoy.

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