Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing
By Alexis Mercer
There have been many times throughout my adult life when I have purposely avoided jumping on the latest and greatest book train. I’m not quite sure why, exactly, I generally feel opposed to reading what “everyone” claims to be the best.
They’re going to make a movie out of it? Super. That doesn’t automatically mean it is good.
Oprah declared it her favorite book of all time? Excellent. I’m glad she enjoyed it.
It made the top of the New York Times’ “Everyone And Their Sister Is Reading It” list? I am not that sister.
And yet there have been a handful of these books that well after the hype settles down, I pick up the book and begin my own journey through its pages. Not because it is all the rage. But because I am hoping for a quiet interaction with a book that has promise to engage me in a way I haven’t been engaged before.
A prime example? Harry Potter. It wasn’t until the fourth book of the series came out that I finally picked up The Sorcerer’s Stone and dove in. That choice worked out really well for me. I finished the first book within 24 hours, reading relatively non-stop (I was in college then...I could afford a sleepless night). And then I didn’t have to suffer the long wait to read books 2, 3 and 4. I devoured them all concurrently with no pause. Waiting for book 5 was painstakingly difficult. Not jumping on the train early had caused me a lot of anguish in wait.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is my most recent example of avoiding the popularity train. My main reason for not reading it early on was because I kept hearing how sad the book was. And I just don’t do sad. There is so much sadness in the world already. Why put myself through deep sadness in a book, too? Not that everything I read is rainbows and sunshine. But during a pandemic the last thing I needed was any more sad.
But I had read through all but one of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series and was hoping to save the last one for a little bit. I was heading on vacation camping with my family and knew I would have some time to read. My mom had given me the book, along with the recommendation that it really was worth the sadness, so I suppose the time had come.
Kya is a girl who grew up in the marshes of North Carolina. She watches her mother walk down the driveway, away from Kya’s abusive father, and out of her life forever at a young age. Her siblings and dad eventually follow, leaving her alone to fend for herself in a worn down shack with no income. She lives wild and free, befriending an unexpecting dockman and his wife, her only true support through much of her life.
Chase Andrews, the best high school quarterback to have ever lived in the small town where Kya grew up, is found dead with no clues as to who could have murdered him. The ensuing investigation puts Kya in the hot seat as the main suspect and the peaceful life she once knew living amongst the wildlife is suddenly at risk of crumbling.
One of the better books I have ever read, the sadness of this book does not overpower the beauty of life presented through Owens’ words. The characters were so greatly developed and the story so beautifully unfolded that I felt a part of the world in which Kya was living.
Where the Crawdads Sing is worthy of all the hype it received, however, I don’t regret waiting until I was in a spot to be able to soak in its beauty. I’ll now be on the lookout for the next latest greatest book train to avoid until I am good and ready.
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