- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; First Edition, First Printing edition (August 14, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0735219095
- ISBN-13: 978-0735219090
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,278 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Where the Crawdads Sing Hardcover – August 14, 2018
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An Amazon Best Book of August 2018: Although this is Delia Owens’ first novel, she long ago distinguished herself as a gifted writer. In the mid-80s, Owens co-wrote with her husband Cry of the Kalahari, which was a best-selling, nonfictional account of traveling and researching Africa’s Kalahari Desert. One of the joys of that book was the Owens’ description of the natural world, and Where the Crawdads Sing is immersed in the natural world as well. The story is set in the 1950s and revolves around a young woman named Kya Clark, who is from extremely rural North Carolina. Known by others as the Marsh Girl, she lives alone in nature—but the draw of other people, and specifically love, brings her into contact with the greater world. This novel has a mystery at its core, but it can be read on a variety of levels. There is great nature writing; there is coming of age; and there is literature. Crawdads is a story lovingly told—one that takes its time in developing its characters and setting, and in developing the story. You’ll want to relax and take your time as well, and when you’re done you will want to talk about it with another reader. – Chris Schluep , Amazon Book Review
“A painfully beautiful first novel that is at once a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature....Owens here surveys the desolate marshlands of the North Carolina coast through the eyes of an abandoned child. And in her isolation that child makes us open our own eyes to the secret wonders—and dangers—of her private world.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Steeped in the rhythms and shadows of the coastal marshes of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, this fierce and hauntingly beautiful novel centers on...Kya’s heartbreaking story of learning to trust human connections, intertwine[d] with a gripping murder mystery, revealing savage truths. An astonishing debut.”—People
“This lush mystery is perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver.”—Bustle
“A lush debut novel, Owens delivers her mystery wrapped in gorgeous, lyrical prose. It’s clear she’s from this place—the land of the southern coasts, but also the emotional terrain—you can feel it in the pages. A magnificent achievement, ambitious, credible and very timely.”—Alexandra Fuller, New York Times bestselling author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight
“Heart-wrenching...A fresh exploration of isolation and nature from a female perspective along with a compelling love story.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Delia Owen’s gorgeous novel is both a coming-of-age tale and an engrossing whodunit.”—Real Simple
“Evocative...Kya makes for an unforgettable heroine.”—Publishers Weekly
“The New Southern novel...A lyrical debut.”—Southern Living
“A nature-infused romance with a killer twist.”—Refinery29
“Both a coming-of-age story and a mysterious account of a murder investigation told from the perspective of a young girl...Through Kya’s story, Owens explores how isolation affects human behavior, and the deep effect that rejection can have on our lives.”—Vanity Fair
“Lyrical...Its appeal ris[es] from Kya’s deep connection to the place where makes her home, and to all of its creatures.”—Booklist
“This beautiful, evocative novel is likely to stay with you for many days afterward....absorbing.”—AARP
“Compelling, original...A mystery, a courtroom drama, a romance and a coming-of-age story, Where the Crawdads Sing is a moving, beautiful tale. Readers will remember Kya for a long, long time.”—ShelfAwareness
“With prose luminous as a low-country moon, Owens weaves a compelling tale of a forgotten girl in the unforgiving coastal marshes of North Carolina. It is a murder mystery/love story/courtroom drama that readers will love, but the novel delves so much deeper into the bone and sinew of our very nature, asking often unanswerable questions, old and intractable as the marsh itself. A stunning debut!”—Christopher Scotton, author of The Secret Wisdom of the Earth
“A compelling mystery with prose so luminous it can cut through the murkiest of pluff mud.”—Augusta Chronicle
“Carries the rhythm of an old time ballad. It is clear Owens knows this land intimately, from the black mud sucking at footsteps to the taste of saltwater and the cry of seagulls.”—David Joy, author of The Line That Held Us
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A glowing review by a friend whose opinion I generally respect enticed me to try this book, one which is really not the type I would select. But I was interested in the North Carolina setting and the premise of a “wild child” living alone in the marshes. So off I went, nose in my Kindle.
I read the book in two days, reading late into the night, snatching time during the day between work and chores. Actually, the chores fell by the wayside, except for feeding my puppies. I was mesmerized, enchanted, wrung out, appalled, energized, and amazed. I dislike that last, overused word, but sometimes it’s the one that works. And when I finished, I knew this was a book I’d read again, several times, and would not easily forget.
What made it so special to me? First, the writing: effortless, flowing, lyrical, and clear. I absorbed it without stumbling, without mentally substituting a better word, or revising sentence structure. Nope. It was perfect for the tale being told.
Second, Kya: a child of wonder, pain, abuse, abandonment, determination, beauty, the sort more from within than without, and a resourcefulness most of us cannot imagine. Kya’s no cliché, no feral child just waiting to be rescued and rehabbed by well-meaning but clumsy individuals. She transcends those stereotypes by leaps and bounds, and when she chooses to interact with others, she does so on her own terms. I also found the transformation, subtle and something easily missed if you’re not paying attention, of Kya’s speech patterns as she grew up, losing the backwoods twang and limited vocabulary of her crazy and largely uneducated father, for an almost academic style resulting from the stacks and stacks of books she devoured.
Third, the setting: marshes that are hardly the monochromatic sweeps of green and blue so favored by weekend painters to the tourist trade; lagoons swarming with color and critters; birds far more numerous and varied than the ubiquitous seagulls; fireflies [although North Carolina folks call them lightnin’ bugs] flickering on and off with their special mating codes above the marsh; mud that isn’t yucky but the habitat of insects and worms; and the ocean, the largest body of all, rolling on past the undulating marsh grasses, the switchback creeks, placid lagoons, and sugar-soft strips of sand. You can see all this, feel it in the blistering heat of summer and the chill moist fog of autumn and winter, smell the briny sharpness and the unmistakable tang of marsh mud at low tide, and hear the calls of all the birds, the waves rustling and then crashing, the wind making dead grass clatter. And what about taste? Well, there are all those grits, seeming years of grits…
As always, other folks have provided the obligatory precis of the story, so go read those. I’ll simply say that the plot is not trite, it’s not one you could predict, or want to, I suspect. Neither are the characters in addition to Kya, even though one or two wear the clothes of a cliché until they morph into something else.
Now here is the true evidence of this book’s power for me: I found some jarring elements, me, the reader who demands absolute historical, social, and geographical accuracy, and I just didn’t care. But here goes.
The crawdads of the title are freshwater creatures, so they would not be denizens of Kya’s briny/saltwater marshes. No one in North Carolina would call them anything but crawfish; growing up in Raleigh, I played with crawfish in creeks and streams. Crawdad is a name used by folks west of the Appalachians. However, crawdads do indeed sing, according to Woody Guthrie.
People who live along the coast in North Carolina small towns would never go shopping can’t in Asheville. True, you could drive from Manteo on the Outer Banks to Murphy in the state’s western tip using US Highway 64 the entire way, but it would have taken some 12 hours in the. Thus the references to Asheville as a destination for shopping struck a wrong note. So did having Kya’s meeting with her publisher in Greenville. People flying in from Big Cities Up North would have landed in Raleigh or Charlotte. Greenville didn’t have an airport in the late 1960s/early 1970s.
Finally, I can’t find but one, possibly two, spots along the Atlantic coastline where Kya’s marsh sanctuary could have been located, given the detailed descriptions of boating through creeks and lagoons to the ocean. That did make me wonder if the author used her imagination without the assistance of a few topographical maps.
But you know what? These minor quibbles aren’t worth a star, or even the point of a star to me, who is from NC, or to anyone else. Such is the beauty and power of this story.
I have to confess that I have also had magical moments with marsh creatures such as herons, eagles, and mud turtles. Like the main character, Kya, I am a compulsive collector of treasures from those Great Rock Tumblers: the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean which makes this book so attractive to me. However, Delia Owens' writing is more than just about the natural world. She spins a good and very well-written tale about murder, courtroom drama, nature, poetry, and even love.
Another reviewer described Owens' writing as lyrical. It is. Take your time and savor every sentence.
I only keep few book's that I know I will read again. This is staying in my library.