Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge: 16. A book you’ve seen someone reading in a public place

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 8. Involving the art world, 15. A five-syllable title, 37. Set in a rural area

In an effort to fulfill the ever-difficult prompt, a book you’ve seen someone reading in a public place, I finally cracked and read Where the Crawdads Sing. And I have to say: I did not get it. “It” being the seemingly mass appeal of this book, or what it is people seem to be getting out of it.

Abandoned by everyone in her life, one by one, Kya “Marsh Girl” Clark is on her own in the wild North Carolina landscape by the age of ten. She evades school, relies on the help of neighbors, and learns from nature. Dirty, unable to read, and completely illusive, she becomes a legend to the people of nearby Barkley Cove – and not a good one.

But in 1969, Chase Andrews is found dead in the marsh – and the only clues they have point to Kya. This story explores prejudice, community, and the true meaning of humanity by telling Kya’s story and investigating the murder that could finally trap her.

I think one of the absolute biggest problems going for this book is the hype. This firmly lands in the “doesn’t live up to it” category for me. When you read the synopsis of this book they literally make it sound like the greatest thing since sliced bread, like it’s going to forever change your perspective on life and love. Let me be clear: it does not do that. And the most important part of my review will be this – it’s not a bad book, but everything you think you know about it is going to ruin it. I did not dislike this book, but it absolutely did not meet my expectations. If you got this far into 2022 without reading this, wait another five years before picking it up, if at all!

I also don’t believe this to be anything profound. I got whispers of To Kill a Mockingbird and even The Island of Blue Dolphins while reading Where the Crawdads Sing. If you ask me, it’s borrowing lines and vibes from stories that have already been written. And further, what bothered me *the absolute most* was feeling that sense that I’d heard this story before, and knowing that we were definitely talking about racism without ever talking about racism. Ugh. The prejudice that Kya experiences throughout the book, the fact that she was put on trial because she was “the outsider”, the judgment of being dirty, or uneducated – we were talking about racism the whole freaking time, but Owens made Kya white. Further reading on Owens’ actual life and the portrayal of black characters in this novel only further my point. Frankly, it’s cowardly on Owens part and I don’t like how her life experiences play into this story, at all.

This, and a thousand other things, really ruined this book for me. I vaguely remembered talking to coworkers about it years ago, so I did know how it ended. As I was getting down to the very last pages, I thought I was mistaken, but no. I don’t really care for that ending either in the grand scheme of the novel’s larger importance, but as a story element, it felt just and right to me. Very, very odd, but justified. That’s a minor spoiler so I hope I don’t ruin it for you.

And again: I’m going to try to reel back here to remind you that I did not dislike this book in a literal sense. That’s what’s irking me the most, quite frankly. If I had read this with absolutely no knowledge of the controversy, the hype, or anything else about the book, I may have enjoyed it more. I know with 100% certainty though that I still would’ve seen the hints of the novel being about racism, though, and that does bug me. I cannot read this and not hear To Kill a Mockingbird, honestly.

So that’ll do it – I had a lot of thoughts. Evidently, not all good. I hope you all have a great week.

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