The golden boy, Chase Andrews, of a small, coastal North Carolina town is found dead in the marsh that surrounds the community. In the marsh resides, the Marsh Girl, or Kya. The townspeople think that Kya is feral and wild. She cannot be put in with modern society. All of that is wrong though. She had learned almost everything she knows from the land around her and is a budding biologist even though she has only attended one day of school in her life. She is desperate for love and a family after all those close to her have left her behind to fend for herself. Kya is not truly the monster that society sees her as.
Kya is a character that will be hard to forget. I truly have not read any other story that has a character even close to being like her. It’s truly interesting to see how one develops being out in the wild with slim human contact. I have read real life cases of children being raised by animals and how some can develop to learn to speak and write and then some are nonverbal for the rest of their lives. Now, that’s not the situation for Kya as she had lived with her parents and siblings for seven years for her life but much of her life she was on her own and fending for herself. Reading this however, there is a suspension of disbelief as it is hard to believe that a seven-year-old child could make do with no family and out in the wild.
Obviously for me, a book set in the Carolinas is always fun as that is where I am from. Barkley Cove, North Carolina is the fictional town where this novel takes place. I wish we had a more precise location of where it would be located as North Carolina does have quite the coastline but it’s about an hour from Greenville. The dialect was spot on throughout the book, sometimes I struggle with how dialect is written in books but this one really hit the nail on the head for how we, Carolinians, speak. This is a knit pick and most probably would not pick up on it, but it seems like Asheville is the only city that characters really go to. Asheville is a good six hours inland so it’s hard for me to believe they would go that far when there are places like Charlotte, Fayetteville, Raleigh, and Wilmington that are much closer.
One of the lines in the book says, “written so often in biological phrases blended with poetic descriptions,” I think that is the perfect way to describe the writing that Delia Owens has presented the reader in ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’. The writing is immersive and really gets you into the story. It was never too much, and it was not too little either.
The plot in this is very fascinating and unlike any other that I have read. It really hits a lot of the boxes that I like, dual timeline, Carolina setting, and midcentury. I was trying to solve the mystery of the book throughout and was kind of let down by how it played out. There are still some loose ends there. I was not a huge fan of the poetry aspect, either, I have nothing against poetry but just felt like it was randomly thrown in. As stated in the character category, the reader will need to have a suspension of disbelief as some of this is hard to believe that these events could really happen. However, I emotionally felt attached this book and was having real outload reactions to what I was reading and felt strongly about the points that were taking place inside of the plot. This plot was like non other, and I do not think that I will forget it. There is so much that I could say but I think this is a good book to go into having a little bit of mystery around it.
Kya is an unforgettable character, and, in a sense, we really grow with her throughout the story and become connected with the marshlands that she calls her home. In my head I can see the shack and have a perfect picture of what the marsh and the small beach community. This is a science and English lover’s dream of a book; beautiful writing yet that sense of biology and learning about the ecosystem. The plot is unique like our main character and had tropes that I love. There were some things that I thought were random and some lose ends that I found that did not tie together nicely but I cannot discuss that here as there would be spoilers. Overall, this was a good book to end September with and I look forward to future books that the author might release.
4 out of 5 stars.
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