Does anyone else get nervous about reading popular books?
I certainly do. I think it’s the fear that they won’t quite live up to the hype that’s been created for them. It certainly makes me reluctant to read some of the books that I see everywhere, just in case.
However, I’ve recently joined a couple of book clubs to try and encourage myself to make time for reading a little more regularly. Where the Crawdads Sing was the first pick for one of those book clubs so I had to get over my nervousness and dive in!
I’m so glad I did.
This book is beautifully written. It’s quite slow going, but in a good way. It’s more a case of wanting to savour the wonderful descriptions of the marshes and associated nature than waiting for something exciting to happen.
The setting is much a character in this novel as Kya, the protagonist who has raised herself in the wilds of the marsh. Nicknamed the ‘Marsh Girl’, Kya is used to being alone in her nature-filled home. Alone in the marsh, she has grown up to be sensitive and intelligent, providing the reader with wonderful insights into the wilderness she calls home. Where the Crawdads Sing almost felt like a love story between Kya and the marsh, which I loved. The poetic descriptions of their relationship were my favourite parts.
However, there is far more to the story than that: someone has died and no one knows how. The novel flits between a coming-of-age story and a murder mystery wonderfully, creating a rich and layered narrative. I also loved the way the novel moved between different times of Kya’s life with ease, with each flashback adding more detail to my understanding of a complex character. It was truly lovely to get to know Kya through the pages of this, her story. There are certainly a lot of layers to Where the Crawdads Sing which I think Delia Owens handles and balances beautifully. There is a lot packed into a not-that-long book but she manages to move between them all with ease. It says a lot about a writer’s talent to balance a bildungsroman, a murder mystery and a split narrative in terms of time and perspective so easily. What is particularly impressive is that this never feels like hard work for a reader, which is often the challenge of packing so much into one novel. Like Kya in the marshes, we can move easily between these channels thanks to Owens’ talent.
Now, for the tricky bit: I didn’t love the ending. I can’t really say any more for fear of giving spoilers but please do comment below or message me if you have read it! There is something about it that just didn’t quite fit for me, which is a shame as I loved the rest. I still love the book overall but I really wish there was a slightly different ending or if it hadn’t been quite as rushed. I just think a lot more could have been done with the ending and with the character of Kya towards the end. Maybe I’m the only one that thinks that! Who knows?
Overall all though, I would still highly recommend this book. It is beautifully written and easy to devour the descriptions of the marsh. It’s almost peaceful in its poetic descriptions! It is definitely a work that balances pain and beauty so well. And maybe you’ll disagree with me on the ending…