Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing

Delia Owens

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.

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#1 New York Times Bestseller
A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick

"I can't even express how much I love this book! I didn't want this story to end!"--Reese Witherspoon

"Painfully beautiful."--The New York Times Book Review

"Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver."--Bustle

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.

Advance Galley Reviews

I'm just going to say one thing about this book: perfection. I originally received a DRC from Penguin's First to Read but was unable to finish. I recently bought the Audible version, started completely over, and absolutely fell in love with this story. Many thanks to Penguin's FTR for the DRC and the introduction to a creative coastal world. Heartbreaking, yet extremely beautiful story.

The author shows her expertise when she writes about nature. I was transported to the Kya's world, which was a great feat since I have always been a city-dwelling person. The book made me care for her which is a mark of good writing. Excellent read!

Exquisite in literally everyway. The painstaking beauty of this coming of age mystery will break your heart, and yet also lift you. It is said that good writing makes you feel.This must be fantastically superb writing as, it makes you feel EVERY THING. There are two alternate time lines to this novel.One of which is coming of age, in which the main character Kya, is growing up and trying to survive in the marshes of North Carolina.The other is a mystery, centered around a murder, that has taken place in the town.Love, abuse, abandonment, betrayal, survival, lessons, growing pains, ignorance, lies, beauty, tragedy, sorrow...."Where The Crawdads Sing" is a beautiful rich tapestry of themes, filled with deep layers, characters that are as real as you & me, and lush lyrical prose that gives incredible descriptions of the natural world, and make it jump off the page! Delia Owens has managed to write a debut novel that can make you laugh out loud, cry real tears, become angry at injustice, or awe of beauty, all while taking the reader on a journey through twists and turns that keep the truth of the plot shrouded in mystery! 'Where the Crawdads Sing' should and will most likely; become a definite favorite, an instant classic, and perhaps most impressive- completely and utterly, unforgettable!

Your heart aches for Kya throughout the book. Such a great narrative and well developed characters. Would definitely vote for this one as a best book of 2018!

This book may be my favorite for 2018. It's a beautiful book which I'm sure my review cannot do it justice, but I shall try. Living alone in a shack in the marsh of coastal North Carolina, young Miss Catherine Danielle Clark (Kya) was abandoned by her family one by one after being abused by their father who also leaves her. Having only attended one day of school in her life, she knows more about the natural world than most people learn in a lifetime. Called the Marsh Girl by the locals, she is an outcast and subject of jokes and prejudice. But Kya finds beauty and friends in her surroundings: the feathers of a bird, a "sunset under a paint-brushed sky", the soft glow of a firefly, the wings of a wasp. Collecting and displaying specimens in her home, she learns their habits and life cycles. Becoming self-sufficient by necessity, loneliness was a "natural appendage" until one older boy, Tate, approaches and befriends her with gifts of unusual feathers and shells. He teaches her to read bringing her books about nature such as Aldo Leopold's "A Sand County Almanac". Kya interacts little with humans, but from her nature observations, she sees similarities. In a courtroom, she sees the alpha male in the judge who was like a territorial boar. This book is full of real-life lessons for the reader whether or not they live in a marsh.

Kya is such an amazing person. I can see why Reece Witherspoon picked this for the September book of the month for her book club.

I am in a book slump and I have been all month. I’m struggling to want to read and I’m struggling to finish really great books. Even with feeling blah about reading – this book was great. I first heard about this book in the spring when it was mentioned on the Modern Mrs. Darcy podcast. I was excited when I was granted the opportunity to read an Advanced Reader Copy from First To Read. This book is beautiful. This is a story of Kya who grew up in the marshes of North Carolina. She was abandoned by her mother and siblings and then eventually by her abusive Father. Kya hasn’t really known love. The town thinks she is trash and doesn’t do anything to assist her. This is a coming of age story as we watch Kya grow up and survive. We see her make friends as much and even fall in love. The story is set between two alternate times. One is Kya growing up and the other is after a murder has taken place in the town. Of course Kya is the main suspect. The descriptions of the Marsh and the animals transport you to North Carolina. I loved Kya, Tate, Jumpin and Mabel. Is this book perfect? No. There are plot holes and some other parts that were just ok. But the writing and Kya overcome the imperfections.

Thank you First To Read for giving me the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. However I completely ran out of time and didn’t have a chance to read this book. I was really looking forward to reading this book but life just got in the way.

I received a free advanced copy of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. Kya's story was engaging. I wanted to know more about her heartbreaking story of surviving on her own from a young age. Combine that with the murder mystery and I didn't want to put this book down.

Delia Owens’ Where The Crawdads Sing is an astounding piece of literature that had me stunned for days after turning the last page. I started in not knowing much about the basis of the plot, nor of the author herself. However, I soon found myself enchanted by the heroine of the story, Kya Clark, and the external and internal forces that affect her turbulent life growing up in the “wilds of North Carolina” . A heroine of her own making and the plea for the protection of wildlife woven throughout categorizes Where The Crawdads Sing as a must read. Often times, I find myself looking for a female character that isn’t the product of demeaning stereotypes or the product of desperate attempts to squash all signs of femininity and the experiences of young women — you know, the “I’m not like other girls” bit. I found that in Where The Crawdads Sing. Kya made this book what is was. Had she been written any other way, I probably would not recommend this book to others as vehemently as I have. Owens created a character that I found myself actually engaged with. Kya, as her family members leave her one by one, fends for herself again and again, whether it be against her abusive father or starvation or the unwanted advances of a boy from town. She does so with a distinction many female characters aren’t given. And despite the harsh circumstances of her situation and the unsolved murder that stands as a shadow over her town, readers are still given a sense of a woman’s experiences as she deals with her first period, the way clothes begin to fit a little tighter, and the rush of a first love. This is a plot with murder, romance, and the story of a coming of age, and Kya withstands it all, a heroine with her seagulls. With her background in nature writing, Owens masterfully brings an appreciation for the planet we inhabit to her debut fiction novel. Kya’s passion for the swamps and beaches that are her home seem to reflect the views of the author. I was pleasantly surprised when Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac was mentioned, as I attended school in the city where Leopold taught and lived, and his work as an ecologist was an essential unit of study in my wildlife and science classes. But I digress. Where the Crawdads Sing is indeed an ode to our various homes, whether that be the prairies of Wisconsin or the swamps of North Carolina. As I was in the middle of reading, I found myself stopping to look a little closer at the plants that line the lake or the tiny green bugs that found themselves landing on the pages of my books. That is good writing, writing that makes one consider the environment outside of the pages. When all is said and done, I stand by my opinion that Where the Crawdads Sing is an incredible novel with twists and turns, scenes to cry about and to laugh at. It would be a fantastic idea if you were to pick it up yourself and read it. Kya Clark and her seagulls, and her shells, and her collection of feathers will be sticking with me for a long time.

A beautifully written novel that will stay with me a long time! I loved Kya as a character, and thought the author did a fabulous job of developing her from childhood on up. I struggled a bit with the vernacular at the beginning, but as the book went on it became a wonderful extension of the reading experience. Just lovely, and I look forward to more from this author!

I received an advance digital copy from First to Read in exchange for my candid review. I would give this 4.5 out of five stars after my initial reading of this sci-fi book. The story of a young girl abandoned by her mother and siblings when she is very young surviving in the North Carolina marshlands. She is cloaked in loneliness but finds friends in the wildlife surrounding her in the marsh. There are elements of mystery involving the death of a young man. The tale weaves through Kya's young life and the investigation of the death. I was engrossed in this story from the beginning and highly recommend it to everyone.

Where the Crawdads Sing is a unique book. I want to call it a genre-bender, as it has aspects of a mystery but is also a coming of age story. All of this is set in a stunning backdrop of rural marshlands of 1960s North Carolina. This book hops back and forth from a murder investigation to Kya’s life growing up alone and almost completely isolated from society. I immediately fell in love with the writing, and Kya’s story had me hooked. This, combined with the reveals of the murder investigation made it such an intriguing read. The setting also plays such an important role in the story, as the marsh is really one of Kya’s only friends. This story about loneliness, survival, and young love almost seems unbelievable but it worked and I was completely immersed in the story the entire time.

Well written. The character, Kya is engrossing and wrapped me in the story line all along. I was interested in understanding why Kya's family kept leaving her behind. Such a lonely existence. Later trying to figure out who committed the murder, and engaged in the courtroom descriptions. The author did an excellent job of painting the picture.

Kya’s loneliness hung over her from a young age, and she seemed to know there was even more to come. Fortunately, Kya is a survivor and is able to find her way in an unloving world. Her character grabs your heart early in the book and refuses to return it. Thank you for the chance to read an ARC.

I loved this book!! I did not finish because I got too busy, but someday I hope to. I recommend this to everyone!! It is so vibrant and alive. Read this amazing, well written book!!

I received this book free of charge from Penguin's First to Read in exchange for my honest review. Marsh Girl, Kya's, mother left when she was just six. Her siblings all left soon after that. Her father wasn't around very often so Kya had to learn to take care of herself. She meets Tate, who teaches her how to read. This opens up a whole new world for Kya. Tate leaves her when he goes to college and once again, Kya is on her own. The story goes back and forth in time to where there has been a murder committed. Kya is the only suspect and goes on trial for the murder. As the story weaves back and forth thru time, you learn how Kya, paints pictures and illustrates books of the flora and fauna of the marsh. She does this to earn a living. I enjoyed this book and loved how the author brought you into life in the marsh.

This download expired more than a week before my review was due as well. I didn’t even get to start this one. Pretty disappointing.

Another advanced copy I was thrilled to read. My list for books to buy once published just keeps getting longer and longer. This is a wonderful read by a first time author. I review simply because everyone has a different take and I wouldn't want to spoil beyond the synopsis of the book. I give Where the Crawdads Sing 4 stars and highly recommend.

Where the crawdads sing is the place "far in the bush where critters are wild, still behaving like critters". That is where Catherine Danielle (Kya) Clark lived all of her life. Her father brought the family to the marshland 4 miles from Barkley Cove, North Carolina after he was wounded in WWII. He was bitter, depressed, reclusive and mean. Finally, Kya's mother couldn't take it any more and in 1952 when Kya was 6 her mother left and never returned. One by one Kya's 4 older siblings also fled their abusive father, and none thought to take Kya along with them. So Kya learned to survive on her own in the marsh, keeping away from her drunken father for the most part, until suddenly he was gone too. Amazingly, no family or church tried to help this child. She was the Marsh Girl, too different to associate with the polite society of Barkley Cove. She grows up in isolation and is profoundly scarred by her abandonment and solitude. The only people who helped to keep her fed and clothed, and advised her, were a black family who were also not accepted by Barkley Cove. There was one boy who befriended her, Tate Walker who charmingly approached her with gifts of feathers. Later there was another boy, Chase Andrews, and when he was found dead in 1969 Kya was suspected of his murder. Kya was mesmerized by the natural world that was her home and this book beautifully describes that world. She was very intelligent and self taught and she knew the marsh as a scientist would. However, her knowledge was much deeper because she became as much a part of the marsh as the fireflies, seagulls, shells and grasses that she studied. The author is a scientist, and it shows, but she is also an excellent novelist. Near the end of the book it becomes a really compelling courtroom drama. I was invested in its outcome and had no idea how it would (or should) turn out. Kya has depths that not only the residents of Barkley Cove but the readers cannot guess. I'd be happy to read more by this author. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

The aithkr’s writing style and use of language appealed to me from the very first, especially her descriptions. I enjoyed the glimpse afforded into unfamiliar worlds (emotional and geographical and zoological worlds) and seeing the growth of the main character. Despite, or perhaps partially because of, a difficult upbringing and social rejection, Kya showed strength and resilience in the face of what seemed to me to be insurmountable odds to survive and yet to even thrive. This is a book that remained in my thoughts long after I had finished reading it.

The language describing the marsh and the animals in it is beautiful. And the idea of a girl raising herself in the marsh, fighting for her existence and ending up a decent human being, functioning in her own way in the world, is big R Romantic and poetic. And there's plenty of straight up poetry in the book. All that makes for a summery relaxing read. And if you can suspend your disbelief through the whole book, it's fantastic. I actually couldn't suspend my disbelief through the whole thing, though. The plot is, well, ridden with holes and nonchalant leaps. And besides Kya, it's dominated by archetypical males: the kindly old black man who sells her gas for her boat, the young scientist who values the marsh and falls in love with her, the young buck who uses the marsh and uses her. Oh, and her brother, who is gone for years but represents her roots. And no female (or male who doesn't want to bed her besides Jumpin' the gas guy) shows interest in her. It's a bit disappointing on the character front. And regarding the science, it uses a lot of biology terms and descriptive language, but it doesn't really get into much of the real science that describes the magic of the marsh ecosystem, which is disappointing. So it was beautiful. It doesn't hold together if you look too closely. But if you're looking for a dreamy summer read, it's a good story. I got a copy to review from First to Read.

This book was outside my typical reading genre so I wasn't sure how I would feel about it. With that said, I had mixed feelings about it. Kya Clark lives in a marsh. Her father is an abusive alcoholic and her home life is rough. Over time, her mother and all of her siblings abandon her, leaving her alone with her dad. At times, he is good to her. Eventually the booze wins out and Kya is left to fend for herself at a very young age. The character of Kya is beautifully written and her tale is heartbreaking. It is difficult to imagine a child growing up in the 50's and 60's surviving in a marsh on her own. She has no money and knows little about the world outside of her marsh. As a result, Kya is afraid to open herself up to love. The town people have labeled her as "trash" and as "Marsh Girl" and the few people she had bonds with have left her. Eventually Kya develops relationships with two young men. Neither relationship proceeds as Kya expects. When one of the men is found dead, Kya is accused of his murder. Did Kya do it though? She has a strong alibi and there seems to be no solid evidence against her, but the town people view her as an outsider capable of anything. Overall, I really liked the lyrical prose of this book. The story was developed over time at a slow pace. The setting was very detailed and as a reader it was easy to imagine the conditions Kya lived in and all of the natural beauty that surrounded her. I also liked the historical components of the novel in relation to what a small town was really like in the 1960's. Finally, I enjoyed watching the relationship between Kya and Jumpin' and Mabel unfold. It was a great display of how love can prevail in places where it is least expected. For me personally, the telling of this story was too slow and the length of it too long. There were parts I found redundant and unnecessary. (Others who favor this genre may disagree with me however!). Overall, this was an enjoyable coming of age story that is heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time.

I would have to say that this is one of the best books I have read in some time. I felt for the way Kya was treated and found her to be relatable in many ways. I could not imagine being so separated from society and to still be able to form relationships. This author is now on my watch list and I will be recommending this book. Thanks for the Arc, First to Read!

Here we have it, my favorite book of 2018! I think this one will be hard to top. Amazing!! A swamp and a marsh are very different environments. A marsh is a thriving and nurturing place, and it's there, along the North Carolina coast, that Kya lived and survived after being abandoned by her family as a young girl. Kya spent her days alone, observing the surrounding natural world, and it served her well. Though she loved her marsh dearly, sometimes the loneliness was too much, especially as she grew into a young women. But after being abandoned by everyone she loved and shunned by the locals, who could she trust with her heart? I don't want to ramble on too much about the plot. This stirring, character-driven novel is part coming of age story, part mystery, and part love story — between Kya and two young men who she allows in her hidden world, but most of all, between Kya and her treasured marsh. WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING is a gorgeously written and haunting novel with an unforgettable heroine, the Marsh Girl. What a bittersweet ending!! Tears, tears, tears. Just lovely. 5 Stars!

A memorable character in a poignant tale. Catherine Danielle Clark is one of self reliance and beauty, a strong female character, a misfit with grit. Amongst the drunkenness and violence of her pa hitting out at ma and her and siblings, in time, she would be left to live alone and to her own devices and fate, this tale follows her metamorphosis. Answers and truths to be known to mysteries and a ballad of love in hand will captivate till the end. She is a character living on the edge of life and people but almost in the best place in ways, with minimalism and nature with plenty heart, this was a great excursion on the complexities of the heart of one Catherine Danielle Clark aka marsh girl. A melancholic tale of tragedies, loss, complexities and frailties, coming of age, love lost and newly founded, what a great debut, no words wasted with great voice, a lucid poem of mystery playing out before for the reader. https://more2read.com/review/where-the-crawdads-sing-by-delia-owens/

What a beautifully written, tragic, yet strength-filled novel "Where The Crawdads Sing is. I am going to encourage all my readers and friends to read this book. Kya is smart, extremely so, she is naturally strong for a girl who was abandoned at such a young age. I fell in love with her from Delia Owens' first introduction of Kya. This novel brings so many emotions to the reader: anger at the adults in Kya's life; laughter when she starts experiencing her first kiss. Joy when she decides to stand up for herself and not hide anymore and terror at her unthinkable situation which she is thrust into which then causes a feeling of admiration when you realize her situation does not hold her back. Delia Owens' characters are rich in detail even down to the minute background characters. Her world is filled with vivid, breathing life that unless you have lived in a marsh or deep into nature as Kya does, you would never know existed. This is a book I will re-read again just to find out if there is anything else I can glean from Kya and her outlook on life. Thank you Penguin books for the chance to read this beautiful novel in lieu of my honest opinion. I have enjoyed ever second of it. 5 stars!!!

I am struggling with this review because I don't have the words to express how this book touched me. Maybe this is why I am a reader and not a writer? And when books like this come along, for that I am grateful. The book starts slow and at first I wondered what I had gotten myself into. But I think that was part of the magic. The story is simple: girl abandoned to raise herself in the marshes of North Carolina, how she survives, thrives, and maybe kills a lover. Simple, right? In no way is this story simple. Instead it is almost poetic. Ms. Owens incorporates nature as its own character in the book. The reader can feel Kya's connection and interactions with the marsh. Kya's interactions with other people is a bit less beautiful after being ostracized by the town that should have come to her aid. Add to this is the mystery of the murder of the town's most popular football player (albeit he has already graduated and is married). But, to Ms. Owens' credit, the murder doesn't take front stage until the actual trial. There isn't any bulky foreshadowing or attempt to build up some crazy level of suspense. Instead the reader is presented with Kya's life the way she lived it, beautifully. This book is perfect for anyone who loves a well written story, endearing characters, beautifully detailed scenes, and maybe even nature or a good mystery.

Thank you so much to Penguin First Reads and GP Putnam Sons for giving me the opportunity to read this lovely and lyrical novel. A coming of age, a primer on nature, a murder mystery, a romance, a story of one woman’s resilience—Delia Owens’ debut novel has it all. Kya Clark’s been left behind her whole life. Abandoned by her family, Kya ekes out an existence in the marshes of the North Carolina coast. She loves her life, though it is lonely. She bonds with the birds and the nature around her, and eventually a special young man who offers to teach her to read and ends up teaching her to love. Author Delia Owens paints an exquisite portrait of the salt water marshes that Kya calls home; her words are evocative of its beauty without being overly descriptive. The novel bounces back and forth between 1969 when the body of a local lothario is found in the marsh and a retelling of Kya’s growing up years. For me, the interruption of the police investigation jolted me from calm and peace I felt there in the marsh with Kya. Owen’s weaves nature and poetry together to patch the rough edges of Kya’s life as she tries to make sense of the world around her. Kya’s gritty determination to survive, her love of her home, and her joy in discovery bring this novel to a level not ordinarily reached. I can see this becoming a new classic of required reading. I’ll be watching for more fiction from Delia Owens and I plan to take a look at the non-fiction she’s written as a wildlife scientist as well. Five stars for this stunning debut!

I very much enjoyed reading Where the Crawdads Sing. The author is a wonderful writer and I look forward to future novels. The main character, Kya, is beautifully written and pulls at your heartstrings.

1969- Kya Clark, abandoned at a young age and left to survive on her own, is an outcast to the small town of Barkley Cove. The towns' people call her the "Marsh Girl" and when a prominent town member, Chase Andrews, is found dead on her land, Kya becomes the prime suspect in his murder. Where the Crawdads Sing is a beautifully written novel about a reclusive young woman who finds herself accused of murder based purely on her social circumstance and the prejudices and perceptions of a small town. I absolutely love historical southern lit and this novel was exactly what I was craving. This is a compelling tale of hope, love, and strength in the face of adversity. I loved so many of the characters that I didn't want the tale to end. Although I would say this novel is a story about love it's not a romance novel, that's not to say that your heart won't be full when you finish...some tears may have been shed. This may have been the first novel I have read by Delia Owens but it won't be the last. This is a must read for 2018.

Similar to other reviewers of this book, I really liked the voice of Kya. She is an easy character to connect with, sympathize with, and care about. I want to know what will happen to her, so I will keep turning the pages. I'm an impatient reader, so if the story doesn't grab me, I usually stop reading and try another book. There are so many new stories to read every day. I think I will keep reading this book to find out how it all ends for Kya. The shifting of the time periods is a little bit distracting, but the secondary murder mystery plot has my interest. Finally, I like the description of the marsh and its surroundings and how Kya learns new skills to survive there on her own. I really enjoy being a new member of this First To Read website because I have a chance to read different genres of books that I usually would not be interested in buying. Michael Toronto, Canada

I loved this book !! It weaves the story of Kya so effortlessly that you feel as if you are in the marsh with her. The beauty of the Carolina beaches and marsh come to life. I could not put the book down.

This book was tough at the start,but once the story picked up it weaved about with so many twists and turns. The characters were fantastically developed over the whole of the story. The plot sad in so many ways and yet happy in others. It was well worth every minute invested in reading it.

This goes down as one of my all time favorite books. It is absolutely absorbing. The protagonist is so real I feel like I know her. This book is one I did not want to put down and after reading I did not want to let go. If you read Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, then you know what I mean. The literary elements in this work of prose take my breath away.

This book exposes the harsh realities of human nature and the way we treat those who are different from ourselves. The book deals with some difficult subject matter such as abuse and poverty. Although the book has a historical setting, it is easy to draw parallels to the way "disposable" children are treated today. The settings are beautifully drawn and the characters emotionally engaging. The timeline hops around as does the point of view in this third person narrative, but those hops do not make the story confusing. I did find the outcome for the main character, Kya, unexpected and not necessarily realistic, but I do not require realism in my fiction. I enjoyed this one and I recommend it.

Where the Crawdads Sing” is a beautifully crafted story of Kya who is abandoned by family at a very early age, harassed by villagers, and takes solace from her marshland home and the creatures that live there. Despite all odds, she overcomes her neglect with determination and, with her innate intelligence and her curiosity of everything in the marsh, she becomes an extraordinary young woman. As an adult, she brings the beauty and her knowledge of the marsh to others but never wants to leave the shelter and protection it has given her. The author makes it easy to care and hope for Kya through her years; she also shows the beauty of the marshlands and how they are full of life. “Where the Crawdads Sing” is a book to savor in its lush descriptions of life, loneliness, love and nature. Thanks to Penguin First to Read for an early copy.

I don't think that I could ever do this book justice with my piddly review. It was simply beautiful. I loved the descriptions of Kya's environment and the way she moved in harmony with it. I honestly feel that any words I use to describe this book will sound trite. It transported me, and I was sad to reach the end.

“Sometimes she heard night-sounds she didn’t know or jumped from lightning too close, but whenever she stumbled, it was the land who caught her. Until at last, at some unclaimed moment, the heart-pain seeped away like water into sand. Still there, but deep. Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.” I received a free e-ARC through First to Read from the publishers at Penguin Random House. Next time I want to read Karen Russell, I’m just going to reread a Karen Russell book instead of settling for something a publicist claims is “like” Karen Russell. Other than the fact that they’re both atmospheric and take place in a swamp, they have little in common. There’s a strangeness to Russell’s fiction, a handful of things that are not-quite-normal in an otherwise believable reality, whereas Owens is straightforward realism. Spoilers will be clearly marked. Kya Clark is the “Marsh Girl” of Barkley Cove. Branded swamp-trash and abandoned early on by her mother and, eventually, her father, Kya is forced to fend for herself on the edges of town with few friends other than the gulls. When rich, local man Chase Andrews is found dead, it isn’t long before fingers point to Kya. She’s pulled into a grueling murder trial where prejudice threatens to take the place of justice. This novel is an interesting combination of nature study, coming of age story, and whodunnit, as if To Kill A Mockingbird and Swamplandia! met a John Steinbeck novel. The writing is lush and evocative, and the marsh and Kya’s relationship to it are so lovingly described that it’s practically its own character. The swamp is both haunting and beautiful, lonely and full of life, and the sense of place that Owens creates is one of the novel’s greatest strengths. The level of research into the biology and ecosystems of the swamp had to be extensive. This is a smart book but an emotional one. It’s perpetually sad and the subject matter is heavy, which made me unwilling to return to it at times. Much of Kya’s appeal depends upon the reader forming an emotional attachment to her. Her survival on her own in the marsh as a child pushed at my willingness to believe, but I grew more interested in her life as she got older. Despite being “swamp trash”, her knowledge-base about the marsh is incredible, and once she learns to read, there’s no stopping her. She’s sympathetic, shy, skittish, brilliant, and surprisingly fierce when backed into a corner. Owens paints a believable portrait of a woman who deserved much better and survived in spite of everything. The other characters are side figures, as Kya spends the majority of her life alone, but her friendships with Jumpin’ and Tate are sweet, and Chase makes a somewhat typical villain. I forget how tense court scenes can sometimes be. In alternate chapters, the novel walks us through the discovery of Chase’s body all the way to the verdict, and they’re some of the most tense and emotional scenes in the novel. I enjoy the way Owens presents all the evidence in detail for the reader to reach an inevitable conclusion about Kya’s innocence; it’s very convincing, and the pull between justice and prejudice is near-excruciating at times. People can be wonderful and horrible, so there’s no way to tell which way the jury is going to go. Books don’t typically hinge on the ending for me, but this one does. Unfortunately, I can’t say more about my feelings on it without edging into spoiler territory. Continue at your risk. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS. TURN BACK BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. I tend to think that individual people can be lovely, but get them into groups and they’re the worst, so I was fully expecting a guilty verdict. It was a relief to read otherwise, and I wish Owens had left it there with Kya and Tate’s happy ending. On a long enough timeline though, every story ends in death. On a structural level, I understand that Kya had to die in order to deliver the twist–and it’s not a bad twist–but on an emotional one, it was a bit of a drag in an already very sad book. I review regularly at brightbeautifulthings.tumblr.com.

Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres.... so this one was a must read immediatly. And.... This might end up being one of my favorite books of the year! There were so many twists and turns throughout the book. I felt moved, I felt empowered. I connected to Kya, and I urged her to fight through each of her struggles. I finished this book in stunned silence, because really -- I did not see all this coming. This is one I'll be buying a paper copy of in August, and seriously, read it. Open your heart to the Marsh Girl and read this amazing tale.

One of my favorite reads this year. Beautifully narrated story. The prose is wonderful. I wish the author would write more fiction. Thank you FIRST TO READ for allowing me to read this novel, a real jewel.

Kya is known by locals at the Marsh Girl because she lives in the marshy swamp area that surrounds the town. She has become a legend and is looked down at by the adults in town because of where she comes from. Throughout this story you see Kya as the seven-year-old with an abusive, alcoholic father who's mother left her one day to let her and her brother Jodie fend for themselves with their father. By the time she is nine, Kya is completely left alone to fend for herself in the Marsh where she learns about life through minimal human interacts but more from the interacts she sees in the nature of the Marsh that surrounds her that makes her into the adult we later see. Delia Owens writes a story that not only looks at the way humans interact with each other and prejudices that some face while also beautifully creating and describing the Marsh landscape to show the beauty of nature. It did take me a bit to get into and I felt like the very end was rushed but I am so glad I read this novel and I feel changed having done so.

Pretty close to the beginning I felt an emotional attachment to the main character, Kya Clark aka Marsh Girl. It was hard not to given her mother left when she was a little girl, followed by her siblings and her father basically left her to fend for herself. I couldn't help but want to give the poor girl a hug. The author does an amazing job of painting a picture of the North Carolina marsh area where Kya lives. The story switches back and forth between Kya growing up in the 1950s and the late 1960s when a man is found dead. The mystery of whether the man was murdered or not wasn't really the highlight of the book as I much preferred watching Kay grow as a character. I'd definitely recommend this book if you are looking for a novel with good character development. Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy!

Moving between the 1950's and late 1960's, Delia Owens spins the tales of a sensitive young girl left alone to fend for herself in the marshland of coastal North Carolina and the death of local golden boy Chase Andrews until they intertwine. Six year old Kya Clark heard her mother leave the shack at the edge of the marsh.  She watched as she walked away in her fake alligator shoes, train case in hand and failed to turn at the end of the lane to wave.  Kya doesn't understand how a mama could leave her five children behind. Left with an abusive father too fond of liquor, the children leave one by one, until only Kya is left.  The small town of Barkley Cove looks down their noses at the poor folks who live in the marsh and call them trash.  Kya spends her childhood dodging truancy officers and surviving on the kindness of strangers and her own wits, becoming a local legend folks call the Marsh Girl. Kya shies away from human interaction yet yearns for love, believing she's destined for nothing more than loneliness and heartbreak.  She spends her life ostracized by a community never willing to give her a chance until two young men fall for her:  Tate falls for her innocence and intelligence and Chase falls for her mysterious beauty. When Chase is found dead at the bottom of the fire tower with no footprints or tire tracks nearby, the Sheriff suspects foul play.  He soon finds out that the necklace Chase always wore was from the Marsh Girl and it wasn't found on his body.  The town has always been suspicious of the Marsh Girl, out there all alone in her shack.  It isn't long before they all suspect that she pushed Chase Andrews off that fire tower, the act of a woman scorned.  Kya has always been persecuted; the people in town want to act as judge and jury in her trial where she faces the very real possibility of the death penalty. The coming of age story of a misunderstood girl aching for love and acceptance and the prejudice of a small town, Delia Owens fills this story with the wonders of the natural world and how a young woman finds her home in nature rather than the community unwilling to embrace her. There's a little something for everyone in Where the Crawdads Sing:  historical fiction, Southern culture and dialect, romance, murder, courtroom drama, and science/nature. Thanks to Penguin Random House/Putnam and the First to Read program for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

This is a gorgeous book. It pulls you into the marsh and keeps you there. Kya grows up alone and is abandoned by too many people she loves. The marsh is her world. She has to learn to trust and have relationships with people. Part coming of age, part love letter to the marsh, with some mystery thrown in, I couldn't put this book down and highly recommend it. Beautifully written.

I could not put this book down. The characters drew me into their worlds, parallel places in time in the lonely and isolated marsh life and a 1960's rural North Carolina small town. Kya lives in the natural world abandoned by everyone except the gulls and sea life of her marsh world. Her experiences in town quickly reveal the prejudices the townspeople feel toward someone different. To try to explain the plot would be a disservice to the author whose lyrical prose bring vivid life to the plot. I highly recommend this book and look forward to Future offerings from Delia Owens!

I really enjoyed this book. Owens skillfully captures the coastal south through her lyrical prose, interesting characters, and engrossing plot. The two threads of this tale, a literary exploration of a girl's maturation in isolation and the mystery-genre's convention of an unexplained death, give this novel a page-turning thrust that should please many readers.

A lyrical, sad tale of an abandoned feral little girl who survives loneliness and cruelty. Kya lives on the edge of the Marsh and his taunted by the nearby town as the Marsh Girl. She is befriended by a kind boy,Tate, who teaches her to read and shares a love and respect for her marsh. Kya enriches her life through study and illustrations of the marsh environment which are eventually published. Tate backs off from Kya after attending college, fearing her inability to assimilate. Being left vulnerable and naive, she is drawn to the local bad boy Chase, who wins her trust and breaks her by running around. Finding out he is engaged, leaves her angry and devastated. Chase is found dead where he has fallen at the Fire Tower. Due to lack of footprints, the sheriff suspects murder. Vague clues lead him to arrest Kya and to a circus- like court trial. There is a noticeable lack of other possible suspects to account for Chase's demise. The ending was satisfying. Pay attention to Kya's observations on nature. Delightful, if dark at times. Recommend.

What a wonderful book! Happen to live near a marsh in PEI Canada and this author totally captures the wonder of our marsh. Plus she develops a cast of characters that seem so real. 10/10 for this book


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