I requested this book on NetGalley after seeing a lot of Instagram hype. When it came to reading it, I wasn’t overly excited and expected to be let down. But this book deserves every single bit of hype. It is hands down my favourite book of 2018 and one of the easiest 5 stars I have ever given. Inspirational, insightful and personal, this story has a depth like very few others.
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“The marsh did not confine them but defined them and, like any sacred ground, kept their secrets deep.”
The story centres around Kya, a girl who has been abandoned her whole life and left to fend for herself in the shack where she lives with only the gulls and marsh for company. She is isolated from civilisation and only visits the local village for essentials where she avoids and evades the judgemental locals.
One person manages to break through Kya’s tough exterior and befriends her – Tate, a boy from the village with a keen interest in marine biology. Over the time, the pair become close and their relationship blossoms, but like everyone else in her life, Tate walks away one day and doesn’t return leaving Kya alone once more.
Another man, Chase, attempts to charm the enigmatic Kya and the pair build a steady friendship that Chase pushes to the next level and Kya resists. Years later, Chase is found dead and Kya is the number one suspect. Will prejudice and exclusion shape the verdict before Kya can even begin to prove her innocence?
Flowing narrative and vivid descriptions
The main thing I liked about this novel was the simplicity combined with incredible storytelling. Instead of being action-packed, the story moved in a gradual sway, concentrating strongly on Kya’s life as she grew up in an isolated setting, giving the reader full access and insight into her lonely existence. It was easy to build a strong connection with her character and the author knew the importance of this.
I loved the use of metaphor to describe the swamp and surrounding nature. It was a refreshing read that explored lots of unfamiliar elements, bringing them to life from a different perspective and lifestyle. The vivid descriptions allowed me to picture the location clearly in my head which gave the story a strong sense of realism.
“Miles of blade-grass so tough it grew in salt water, interrupted only by trees so bent they wore the shape of the wind.”
One of the main theme addressed in this book is loneliness. The author manages to craft Kya’s character as a strong, independent female whose only weakness is the longing to be loved. It creates a powerful female protagonist with human vulnerabilities that we can all relate to. Other themes include abuse and racism, which are tackled sensitively and really add to the era of the story (mainly set in the 1960’s).
“Before the feather game, loneliness had become a natural appendage to Kya, like an arm. Now it grew roots inside her and pressed against her chest.”
Pages: 384 (hardback)
About the author: Delia Owens worked as a wildlife scientist in Africa and has co-written three nonfiction international bestsellers based on her experience there. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel.