I had been anxiously awaiting for Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens to come out in paperback. However, after a glowing recommendation from a book club member whose opinions of books almost always matches mine, I had to go ahead and buy the hardback. (It was funny when I was at Barnes and Noble buying it, three clerks commented to me on what a wonderful book it was!) I'm very glad that I didn't wait any longer. It is a wonderful, beautifully written book. It is the author's debut novel, which is astounding. It is a book of wonder, mystery, survival and love.
The book begins with the prologue from 1969, telling of a popular young man found dead in the marsh. From there the book goes back and forth in time telling the story of the "Marsh Girl", Kya Clark,
The first chapter of Where the Crawdads Sing begins in 1952 with the story of a young girl living in a shack in the marsh on the North Carolina coast. In 1952, when Kya was six years old, she watched her mother walk out of their shack. Soon after her mother left, Kya's four older siblings also left, tired of their father's alcoholic rages and abuse. Her father would leave her for days, sometimes weeks, and Kya learned to survive on her own.
She learned to avoid the truant officers and the social service people and eventually, they quit trying to engage her. After three or four years, her father drifted away and never returned. This left twelve year old Kya living alone in the shack. Kya had always been interested in the life around the marsh...the birds, their feathers, insects, and shells. She collected and studied all of it. She felt close to the sea gulls that she saw every day. She sold fresh mussels and fresh fish to the man who owned the Gas and Bait on one of the wharfs, in order to pay for groceries and gas for the boat.
As Kya became a teenager, she became friends with one of her brother's friends. Tate is interested in all the marsh wildlife also, and as they become friends, Tate taught Kya how to read and they became quite close. But when Tate went off to college, he never communicated or saw Kya again, leaving her abandoned once more. Meanwhile, Kya had noticed kids about her age, going to some of the remote beaches partying, etc. She eventually met Chase, one of those kids. She and Chase became involved with each other for awhile until Kya saw the announcement of Chase's engagement in the newspaper one day, and she would have nothing to do with him after that. Abandoned once again, Kya turned into herself and began her new life alone.
Did she kill Chase? You'll have to read the book.