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Where the Crawdads Sing: Book Review

Suggested Books for Women: Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing, Book Review, Crawdads Book

If you are one of the few that haven’t heard of the best-selling novel, Where the Crawdads Sing by author and first-time novelist Delia Owens, then I encourage you to take a moment to read this review and then buy the book.

You are missing out.

I have always loved reading. Since the time I was old enough to digest a chapter book, there’s been little that has satiated my hunger for a good story like a book. I make no secret about the fact that I enjoy binge-watching a good feminist T.V. series. I’m also a fan of the movies, but there is something truly special and satisfyingly intimate about losing yourself in a good novel.

These days, I find it harder and harder to find a true page-turner. And frankly, with all the reading I have to do for work, it’s incredibly difficult to find the time or the energy to sit down and read. The eye-strain alone, after hours of staring into a screen, is enough to deter me from cracking a book. Fortunately, I’ve found Audible. And that’s where I stumbled across the Where the Crawdads Sing audio book.

Yes, I found it nearly impossible to tear myself away from the narrative, but Where the Crawdads Sing, is more than just a page-turner. Owens’ debut novel is a mosaic of genres: murder mystery, romance, thriller, tragedy. All tied mysteriously and perfectly together, she creates a compelling story around the female protagonist, Kaya.

Set on the North Carolina Coast in a town called Barkly Cove, Kaya is left to fend for herself in the marshes after her family—including her mother, brother and physically abusive father—abandon her one by one starting at the age of 6. She quickly becomes known to the town’s people who judge and reject her as the “Marsh Girl”. So, she learns to avoid being caught by the authorities and survive on her own with only a boat and her knowledge of the land to get by on.

The story jumps between Kaya’s youth and 1969 when a handsome young man from town named Chase Andrews turns up dead. A full-grown Kaya is a suspect in what is believed to be his murder, and as a reader, you are in for a ride as the story unfolds.

As much as the unknown kept me engaged in Where the Crawdads Sing’s story line, I found myself primarily drawn to the main character’s development. Owen’s does an exquisite job of using Kaya to explore the effects that isolation and loneliness can have on a young woman’s sexual and emotional development. Her experience is plagued with betrayal, abandonment, and social cruelties that most women will be able to relate to on some level, whether in their own experiences with lovers, friends or society. The reader’s experience is simultaneously heart wrenching and awe-inspiring.

Among the many issues addressed—sometimes directly, and others more subtly—Where the Crawdads Sing delves into sexism, racism and environmentalism, and lets the reader experience the frustration and anguish of injustice without offering an easy way out. Of course, not to be overlooked is the sweet romance and the “ode to nature” that you can read about in all of the other reviews. Owen’s love for the wild is truly, beautifully unveiled throughout the story.

Now is the perfect time for a book like this one to come along. Perhaps that’s why it’s enjoying an extended stay at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. I may not have gotten to enjoy curling up on the couch, book in hand, with this fascinating novel; but listening to it extended every workout, walk, house chore and drive far beyond the time I have spent on them in the past (and presently).

I highly recommend this read to every woman, regardless of your preferred genre. Chances are, you’ll find exactly what you are looking for somewhere between the covers.


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Annette Benedetti
Annette Benedetti
Annette is a writer, editor and photographer from Portland, OR. Her work appears in a variety of publications including Bust, Red Tricycle, Motherly and Domino. When she’s away from her desk she can be found teaching women yoga at wilderness retreats, exploring new cities across the states and hiking the trails at Mt. Rainier—one of her favorite places on earth.
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