Book Review Where the Crawdads Sing

Book Review by Stephen Dalton

Where the Crawdads Sing was an excellent read. The following is my no-spoiler, well
very few, review of the best damn book I’ve read since The Notebook.

An Introduction

I had never read anything by the author before, but I was hooked right away. Several people had recommended the book to me, and when I looked for it on Amazon for my Kindle, I was astounded to see that it had nearly 70,000 reviews.
As of 2 September, that number is 73,063.

What’s more, 95 percent of those who left a review gave it four or five stars. That is
freaking amazing. Very few books have those kinds of numbers.

Kya is the “Marsh Girl” who raises herself and learns to be self-reliant until a fisher boy,
Tate, teaches her to read and a lot more. Eventually, she is charged with murder.
If nothing else, this is a story of survival—a story about a girl who provided for herself
from seven onward.

The Protagonist

The protagonist is the “Marsh Girl,” Catherine Danielle Clark, or Kya to her friends.
Actually, Kya has very few human friends. She is more familiar with the gulls and heron
than most other humans.

The Plot

Where the Crawdads Sing is a story about a young girl left to grow up pretty much on
her own from age seven after her mother and four older brothers and sister leave her
with her drunk and abusive father, who also leaves eventually.

He never stayed long anyway, but he did leave her a little money some Mondays when
he was there to get some supplies. He liked to gamble and drink, so there never was
much money anyway.

The Characters

The list of characters in Delia Owen’s masterpiece is short. Tate is the boy she sees
fishing one day when she got lost in her Pa’s boat. He shows her how to get home. She
sees him around the marsh a lot but usually just watches from a hiding place.

The story goes back and forth somewhat, linking background stories, but don’t worry;
you won’t get lost.

Kya’s older sister and two brothers leave, then her mom leaves too. All of them at one
time or another got a beating from her Pa, a disabled Veteran, who most often pities
himself and tries to find solace in the bottom of a bottle. When Jodie, her next older
brother, leaves, she and her Pa, who comes and goes, are all that’s left in the shack.

Eventually, Tate learns that she does not know how to read and teaches her. They
spend a lot of time together, but Tate’s dad advised him to be careful and not get her
pregnant, or it could ruin his future. Thinks cool between the two later when he goes off to college.

Once the relationship between her and Tate cools for a while, she meets the football
player, rich kid, Chase Andrews. He toys with her affections, betrays her, tries to rape
her, and winds up dead.

Of course, the sheriff jumps to the conclusion that the “Marsh Girl” did it and arrested
her for the murder, even though she has an alibi. She was in Greenville, hours away,
meeting her agent and publisher. Her only mode of transportation by bus leaves a
very narrow window of opportunity.

Besides Kya, Tate, and Chase, there’s Jumpin’, who runs the boat gas station (mariner
and convenience store for the fishermen) and his wife, Mabel.

Jumpin’ is the closest thing to a father she ever had, except for a few short months
when her real Pa tried to act civil and took her fishing and out to lunch once or twice.
Then he fell off the wagon again. Kya says, “Jumpin’ has been my best friend, for years, my only friend. My only friend unless you count heron gulls.”

Mabel helped her when she became a woman and no idea what was happening.
Mabel, a “colored woman,” gets her friends to help gather some things for Kya. They
say it is in exchange for the smoked fish, but the fish really aren’t that good. Not good
enough to sell anyway.

The murder trial has many twists and turns, and it nearly kills Kya to be out of the
marsh, away from the birds and wildlife.

The Summary & Recommendation

You will love this book. The “Marsh Girl” grew up to be an intelligent and successful
author. It’s kind of like a John Grisham courtroom drama, a ‎Nicholas Sparks love story,
and a Tara Westover success story rolled into one.

As I read this book, I laughed and I cried, mostly the latter. I shook my head, and I
cursed, but I couldn’t put it down. Even with writing deadlines looming, I plowed on,
looking for resolution, hoping the best for this girl who had faced so much.

“I can’t even express how much I love this book! I didn’t want this story to end!”
Reese Witherspoon

In case you’re wondering, the movie will be produced by none other than Reese
Witherspoon and Lauren Levy Neustadter, and Olivia Newman will direct it, but no
casting details have been announced.

As of July 2020, the book has sold over seven million copies worldwide.

Buy the book for your Kindle: https://amzn.to/34WphUS

Read my book recommendation of The First Lady:
https://medium.com/@stevedalt/the-first-lady-by-james-patterson-brendan-dubois-99f9962e4612

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