Friday, May 1, 2020

Delia Owens - Where the Crawdads Sing

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Comment: This has been a very hyped title among readers everywhere, has had the help of publicity from famous people, has won prizes... yes, I've been curious about it too although I didn't mind waiting to get to it, which happened recently and this was my latest read.

In this acclaimed boo we follow the life of Kya, a small girl who lives in the marshes near a small town in North Carolina during the 50s and 60s. 
Kya is a young girl when, first her mother, then her sisters and brothers and finally her father, all leave her behind as they go away. She remains and keeps hoping for the day they will remember her and return for her but that never happens. She lives alone at the family's house in the marshes, she learns to travel by boat, she barely speaks to others, she only attends school one single day and she grows up knowing everyone else nicknames her "marsh girl", with all the negative meanings it can have.
When she is older, after years of studying nature around her, of learning to be alone and resilient, she slowly starts to speak to one person here, another person there and eventually her life changes because of that. 
Will Kya remain the wild girl everyone thinks she is or will she be welcomed by others again?

This was a very easy book to read. I managed to do it in one day (not forgetting the extra time I have had because of the virus restrictions and all that) mostly because the writing was easy, accessible and the pace conductive to eagerness in wanting to know what would happen next.
Another great element was how beautiful and evocative some descriptions were, I think it was also easy to imagine some of the scenarios Kya saw or how were the settings where the story takes place.

These things aside, though, I have to say that for me the book wasn't as impressive as I expected, considering all the hype around it.
I suppose the big questions about this book were the fact Kya lives alone since she is a little girl and she not only manages to do that but she turns into this amazing expert in the marsh and she remains a clever, table person too. Ok, she isn't completely without contact with others, so she can still maintain some human notions of how to behave but then I have to wonder why no one has helped her, why no one came forward to do something, if everyone knew she was out there?! It's not as if she is alone and hiding, people knew about her situation!

Basically, then, the story is pretty much how Kya has survived and this means there is some repetition in her activities, in her development, in her evolution into a young woman... things change when Tate, a boy she remembers from her early childhood, starts to leave her gifts, usually feathers from the birds that live in the area. They become friends and he teaches her to read.
I suppose it was only natural the plot would move onto these things (adulthood, relationships) but the story lost some interest for me from this moment on.

What drove me to the story was Kya's situation and how she responded emotionally to her surroundings and circumstances. I think the psychological factor of living pretty much alone, of thinking about those who abandoned her and of her situation was not used to its full potential. I liked the mental aspect of Kya' situation but this is where the writing could have been better, all these things could have been done in such a strong or almost smothering way that it would not be possible to overlook Kya's mental state as she grew up. 
Instead, I feel the way the story was written was a little too bland and these things were not as oppressively stated as I think it would have suited. This means that, for me, when the final scenes of the story happen regarding a murder that is investigated as the story develops, just loose power.

When the whole story is solved (both plots, Kya's and the murders'), I was left with a small feeling of incompleteness. As if something was missing. There are some explanations in the end, regarding the lives of the key characters after everything is solved but they felt a little forced, a little too much like shock factor, not really an essential part of what happened. Oh well.
Some details, I think, just weren't the climax one could wish for since the bases for them weren't done with the fervent characterization the author could have chosen.

All in all, this was a good story, wonderful details and descriptions but the development wasn't what I expected and some things just weren't as impressive as they could be.
Grade: 6/10

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