Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens  

Book Club Review (No Spoilers) 

This story is set in the 50s-70s in North Carolina. It follows the life of Kya, a girl who grows up alone in a marsh and develops an exceptional interest in the animals and plants that make up her home. It is a coming-of-age / murder mystery story. If you’ve ever seen the film 12 Angry Men, you might have an idea of how the characters, prejudices and evidence build to a gripping crescendo.  

The main character, Kya, was discriminated against for her lifestyle and background – things that were out of her control. Something many of us relate to was her obviously feeling different. When we are the odd ones out, we often want to fit in above anything else. As an impartial outsider, I was entranced by Kya’s character because of her difference; I saw it as beautiful – as a gift even. She had an appreciation and an understanding for the world that no one else ever has (in the book or in real life, out of those I have met). We can’t always see it ourselves, and our environment around us doesn’t always let us know either, but what makes us different can also be our strength. 

I read Where the Crawdads Sing in a cottage in northern Wales, surrounded by greenery, valleys and mountains. I had felt quite detached from nature prior to this holiday which was only confirmed and emphasised by this book. The descriptions of the marsh were vivid. I get easily bored by books that have too much scene setting, but the author’s interest and expert knowledge of botany and naturalism rang true: I couldn’t help but be interested myself.  

Nature/the great outdoors; trees. grass. mountains and a clear sky.

Kya’s almost Palaeolithic lifestyle made me address how I live my own life: by working an office job, I am going against humans’ evolutionary tendencies to be outdoors most of the day. It solidified my determination to work outside for a couple of hours each afternoon (whenever it isn’t raining) but it also made me inquire into how else I can get outside more. Even as the summer slips into autumn, I want to eat my meals outside, read my book on a bench and even just stand in the garden with a cup of tea being mindful for five minutes. It gets to the point where the comfort and ease of staying indoors isn’t actually as enjoyable as our brains convince us that it is. Being in the woods, walking through fields, watching streams and standing on untouched earth is now what I value most after reading this book. I feel really motivated to reconnect with the Earth and sidestep built-on land and the indoors when I can.  

Person reading on a rock in a field.

Final Thoughts…

I would never have guessed that this book was published in 2018 as it felt so authentic to the period it was set in. I felt transported. No matter my concerns nearing the end, it did not dissatisfy (although it had me clutching it until the very last page). I was gripped from start to finish and absolutely recommend it. Where the Crawdads Sing doesn’t have to be your usual “type of book” for you to thoroughly enjoy it. 

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