I did it! After nearly two years of putting it aside, I finally read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens!!!! The book had been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for over 100 weeks! Yes, you heard right, OVER 100 WEEKS! It’s like “Old Town Road” but in book form because of how long it’s been on the charts. Enough of that digression, people who view this website will probably want to know if the novel was worth the hype. Well readers, it was to a certain degree.
Now, I know that a lot of readers have already checked out this book, so I will give a very brief summary of it. Here it goes: a woman named Kya who lives alone in the marsh in mid-twentieth century North Carolina becomes a suspect in a murder case, but she is not what the villagers say.
To understand the hype around this novel, one must have at least some understanding of why it became and remained popular. Regular readers as well as the New York Times have articulated that it appeals to a whole range of people. For those who like murder-mysteries, there’s that as the main story. For those who love nature, Owens – a retired biologist – provides exquisite descriptions of the marsh and the surrounding area that makes one feel that they are right there with Kya. There’s also romance, for Kya has relationships with two boys from the nearby village. And so and so forth.
I would also like to add that us readers like checking out books that involve girls and women in awful situations and seeing how they get out of them. Some of the bestsellers within the last 10 years have titles like The Girl on the Train and The Woman in the Window. We even read these kinds of stories in fairy tales. But at the end of the day, it’s a coming of age story that a lot of people like me identify with, specifically how an “outsider” comes to understand the world around them.
In other words, I find the hype more fascinating than the book itself, BUT that doesn’t mean I disliked the book. I liked it actually. I enjoyed witnessing Kya’s journey to how she learns to understand the world around her with all of its ups and downs. I also found her to be believable in what she does even if I didn’t always agree with them. In addition, I liked how the novel is more focused on how Kya handles situations as opposed to simply saying, “Poor Kya” (though it gets dangerously close when it discusses her time at school).
And let’s talk about that ending. I know some readers didn’t see it coming, but I sadly knew ahead of time that others were disappointed by it. I found it sort of predictable because of how Kya watches the female fireflies and how she reacts when the police initially come to arrest her.
Cassandra Campbell reads Where the Crawdads Sing. As I was doing research for this review, I realized that she narrated two books that I enjoyed and also dealt with women being in horrible situations. They were Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult and Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. In the former, she voices Kennedy McQuarrie – the protagonist’s public defender – with a Julia Roberts-playing-Erin-Brockovich flair, which was perfect for that story. With the latter, I discussed her very good vocal performance on this website. Also, Campbell has narrated a wide variety of books from The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks to the Llama Llama series. She’s like the Renaissance woman of audiobooks. This is all a long way to say that her performance was mostly positive for me. She does a great job bringing the descriptions, especially of the marsh, to life, and I felt a lot of emotions while listening to Kya’s journey. However, most of the men and women sounded very similar with the same vague Southern accent. It also didn’t help that Campbell makes Kya sound too juvenile once the protagonist evolves into an adult. While it was a good performance, I was a little disappointed once I discovered the narrator’s credentials.
All in all, even though I’m more fascinated with the hype surrounding Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, I still like the book. It certainly grabbed my attention with wonderful nature descriptions and an interesting journey for Kya that allows readers to see what she is going to do. I’m sure that people who read these reviews have already read this novel, but if one hasn’t, I would recommend it for all of the reasons listed.
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