“Where The Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens is the book this year. I checked the stats on this book, and I don’t think it has been on the shelf since we got it in September of last year. Owens, an experienced non-fiction nature author, hit a home run with her fiction debut about a girl living alone in a North Carolina marsh.
The main characters are Kya and the marsh. Kya’s family leaves her, bit by bit, first her mother, then her siblings, and finally, her father. By age 10 Kya is hiding from the truant officer, living alone in a shack in a North Carolina marsh. The marsh rescues Kya, supplying her with food and shelter and lessons in nature.
Kya makes her way through life in a mostly solitary existence. She encounters two boys through the years. The boat shop owner and his wife do what they can to assist, but mostly the book revolves around Kya and the marsh.
Owens’ lyrical prose carries the book: “Marsh is a space of light, where grass grows in water, and water flows into the sky. Swamp water is still and dark, having swallowed the light in its muddy throat. Even night crawlers are diurnal in this lair. There are sounds, of course, but compared to the marsh, the swamp is quiet because decomposition is cellular work. Life decays and reeks and returns to the rotted duff; a poignant wallow of death begetting life.”
“Where the Crawdads Sing” has a little romance and a little mystery thrown in, but at its core, this is a literary book with its abundant description and character. Don’t pick up this book expecting a page turning adventure; it is more like a lazy float down the river on a raft, with lots of time to enjoy nature.
Some reviewers have noted that the author plays fast and loose with dialect and accents throughout the book, and that may well be. Some have also mentioned that the author isn’t very familiar with the state, (one of my Nebraska pet peeves) and also that several hurricanes happened during the time period of the book, which went unmentioned. I think a hurricane would be a noteworthy occurrence for a young girl living in a shack on the coast. I still recommend “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, but keep in mind you might need to suspend a little belief.
Karen Kingsolver fans, those who fondly remember, Gene Stratton-Porter’s 1909 “A Girl of the Limberlost” and anyone who enjoys reading about nature might enjoy this literary book. You can put yourself on the hold list for “Where the Crawdads Sing” at the Gering Public Library.
“The Yankee Widow” by Linda Lael Miller- A Civil War novel
“The Paris Diversion” by Chris Pavone- a sequel to “The Expats”
“The Flight Portfolio” by Julie Orringer- A man works to save artists and writers from the Nazis
“The Fall of Shannara: The Stiehl Assissin” by Terry Brooks
“The Spies of Shilling Lane” by Jennifer Ryan, author of “The Chilbury Ladies’Choir”
“Spying On the South: An odyssey across the American divide” by Tony Horowitz
“The British Are Coming: Vol I The war for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777” by Rick Atkinson
“The First Wave: the D-Day warriors who led the way to victory in World War II” by Alex Kershaw
“Surprise, Kill, Vanish: the secret history of CIA paramilitary armies, operators, and assassins by Annie Jacobsen
“Valley Forge” the turning point of the Revolutionary War by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin