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.
Synopsis from Goodreads
This book has been on so many "Must Read" lists, including Reese Witherspoon's book club, so when my book club decided to read it, I was excited for the excuse to grab a copy! It has received so much praise that I was ready to dive in and love it too. Unfortunately, I had a very different response to this story...
I really enjoyed the way that Owens told this story. The shifting timelines of present and past create an interesting story for readers to unravel. I really liked learning about Kya's past (so much of it is heartbreaking!) and everything that she had to do to survive in the marsh. One of our book club questions was around how the marsh acts as both setting and additional character, and I loved that, because it's definitely the parental figure that Kya is missing in her life. The descriptions of the marsh are beautiful, especially when juxtaposed with the present day where there has been a death in town and the police believe that Kya did it. Past and present slowly come together in a very strong build towards the final day in court.
Filled with Stereotypes
My biggest complaint about this book is how boring, if not borderline racist, it is in it's characterization of people in the story. Everything about Jumpin and Mabel fall into the negative stereotypes about African Americans in small town American. Uneducated but the only support Kya receives, they are relegated to every stereotype imagined: uneducated but happy-go-lucky man and the caring woman who is ready to nanny Kya. Other than Kya and Tate, every other character in this story is a walking stereotype: the town Golden Boy who is abusive and a cheater, the sheriff and deputy with their lack of knowledge, and any number of other characters. I was bored by them and disappointed to see the exact same characters again and again.
I was told that I had to read this book until the very last page (and man, was that a struggle to do at points), but I was fairly let down by the ending of this book. While it's an interesting twist, it comes too late. Having Tate simply find these things and reflect on them was not the powerful reveal I was hoping for. The last chapter of the book felt like a wasted opportunity; instead of conversations between characters, it was one big summary of the next few decades of their lives. And while I'm normally someone who loves to know what happens next, I was left feeling dissatisfied that the revelation was so one-sided. It seemed out of character and didn't fit the narrative as well as I was expecting it to.
I didn't understand the hype around it book. It was just ok. My book club was pretty split about our feelings as well, but I think overall everyone agreed that Kya and Tate are interesting, the court scenes were a strong build, and the ending was a disappointment. Apparently there's going to be a movie and I'm interested to see how the book is translated to screen (I'm hoping they change the ending)! I'd recommend this to people who are interested in a super easy read and might want to try an easy murder-mystery with some romance tied in.
Final Rating: 3/5
Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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