Where The Crawdads Sing: A Story of Hope

G.P Putnam's Sons

Megan Middaugh

“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens is an adult fiction novel following a young girl living in the marshes of North Carolina during the 1950s and 60s. After the rest of her family leaves her behind, she has to find ways to make a life for herself in the swamps. She works to catch mussels and fish and sell to the local bait shop in order to make money for herself. With the help of her community she finds a way to survive in the marshes on her own. While following this story line, the novel also follows a murder case that happens 10 years in the future in the same marshes. The murder is of a young boy mysteriously killed in the same marshes we see our main character, Kya, struggling to grow up in.

Kya is known to the town people as the strange “Marsh Girl” which results in her becoming the number one suspect in the murder of the young boy, Chase Owens. The back and forth way the story is told between when Kya is young and when Chase is murdered makes the story all the more intense. While the murder mystery is not the main focus of the novel, it is a very engaging side plot that does give the novel a bit more depth. 

The inclusion of the language used during this time period makes you feel as though you are right there in the marshes with Kya. The writing in general keeps the story moving along in the most beautiful and elegant way. Owens really has a way with words that makes you truly feel for Kya and all her struggles. This, along with thorough descriptions of the nature surrounding Kya in the marshes, paints a wonderful outline of a place where we see a young girl find herself. 

My favorite part of the writing was all the mentions of the nature surrounding the setting in the marshes. Kya collects things from nature such as bird feathers and seashells, and Owens does a wonderful job painting pictures of each specimen Kya gets her hands on. This just adds on to the wonderful story by giving it a beautiful setting you feel like you can really see.

One of my favorite parts of the story is when a young boy, Tate, comes to teach Kya to read. This is a big turning point for Kya in the novel as she finally starts to receive an education and learn to interact with another person her own age. The relationship she forms with Tate becomes a key element to the story and develops in a unique and heartwarming way. 

“Where the Crawdads Sing” is not a particularly sad book, although when originally looking into it many people claimed it “heart wrenching,” which on the surface makes it seems like this novel would be a sad one. However, after reading it I think I can see where the heart wrenching comes from. This is a story that begins with a young girl being abandoned by her entire family and left to live alone. There are moments in this story that Owens really makes you feel the loneliness of Kya, such as a moment where Kya is sitting on the beach of the marshes and fears that all the gulls will fly away and leave her too. Moments like these truly do pull on the heartstrings and can make the novel seem heart wrenching. 

Overall, this is not a story of despair, but rather a story full of hope and love. Kya overcomes a lot within these pages and she will definitely be a character that will stick with me for a long time. I would give this 4.5 out of 5 spartan heads for sure.