“There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.”
Where the Crawdads Sing ~ Delia Owens
It seems unthinkable that a child could be abandoned by everyone, cast out by the town in which she lives and still be a pariah years later, despite proving herself. Yet this is what happens to Kaya. First her mother, then her siblings and then her father leave her with nothing more than some basic skills she has taught herself. Alone on the marsh, Kaya experiences kindness from few. Others dismiss and betray her, leaving her downtrodden, yet determined to survive.
When a young man is murdered, the eyes of the town are suddenly focused on the girl who lives in the marshes.
This book is very slow. I was several chapters in (having put it down a few times), before I was convinced about finishing it. It’s nicely written, but there’s no real action or excitement throughout. Even the death, which begins the book, is not particularly noteworthy or memorable. Neither, sadly, are the books’ characters.
Kaya as a character could have been so much more, yet the author decides to keep her in the background, instead focusing on the landscape, creatures and poetry of the story. These would have felt less irritating had the real characters had the chance to tell their own story, among the poetic landscape. While the marsh is key to the plot, it is people with whom we associate. Even the trial is not a dramatic event, because there’s no connection with the characters, so we do not really care who is or isn’t guilty.
That said, there is something about the unique style of storytelling. Poetic and quietly unassuming, the book wove a story that many won’t have the patience to see. Although I didn’t particularly enjoy the book, I do admire the magical way the story is told.
However, the book’s fatal flaw is its speed. Many will cast the book aside prematurely. And those that stay the course may feel underwhelmed by the conclusion.
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