I like to recommend books you may not have heard of to give a lesser known book some light. This isn’t one of those. It’s new (published in 2018), but everyone is talking about this book. It’s been rated over 125,000 times on Goodreads and has a 5-star rating on Amazon, where it’s been reviewed more than 7,400 times.
Where the Crawdads Sing has topped the NYT Bestseller list all year so far. It’s a Reece’s Book Club pick, and Fox 2000 acquired the movie rights in December for Hello Sunshine (Reece Witherspoon’s company) to produce a feature film. Clearly, Delia Owens doesn’t need my blog to promote her book, but I can’t not talk about it.
Where the Crawdads Sings has three things I love in a book:
A unique place and culture. I love to step into a new place I don’t know much about. Reading this book is like taking a tour of the North Carolina marshlands with a naturalist who understands why and how nature is precious without unnecessary or boring details.
A murder mystery. Yep. The book starts with a body being found in the marsh and, although it’s a big part of the story, it’s not the whole story.
Wonderful characters. I wanted to find Kya and give her a hug and a home and a family who would never hurt her the way she’s been hurt. She's so lovable and strong.
Gorgeous prose. It's probably a good thing I listened to this book because if I had read the hardcopy, I would have felt tempted to use a highlighter for beautiful phrases and I would have just highlighting everything. The language is beautiful, but it's doesn't weigh down the story the way it can in other books.
So what’s it about?
Abandoned at a young age by her family, Kya mimics wildlife to survive on her own in the marsh. She becomes known as "the marsh girl", but no one really knows her. Her single day of school is so traumatic, she becomes one with nature, growing up ignorant until a shrimper’s son, Tate Walker, befriends her and teaches her how to read. After Tate goes off to college, Kya meets Chase, with whom she begins a relationship she knows isn’t healthy, but her need for human contact causes her to make calculated exceptions to the rules that have protected her in the past.
Other books have seared my heart in the way this one did, but they have been so sad I couldn’t help but be branded by them. This one leaves the same impression with some sadness, but the tone throughout the story is triumphant. It made me want to keep reading where others made me want to be finished.
When Kya learns to read, she says, “I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.” And that’s how I felt about this entire book. Beautiful language, a tough-as-nails protagonist, and enough intrigue I couldn’t put it down.
Disclaimer: This is a Christian blog, but the books I recommend aren’t always Christian books. This book does contain some strong language and a few scenes that are graphic. I didn’t find it troubling because it was true to the setting and characters. However, I do feel it necessary to mention that.
I know you’ll love this book and if you’ve read it, let’s meet for coffee and talk about it.