Where the Crawdads Sing. Delia Owens. Penguin Publishing Group. Copyright 2018. pb. 384 pp.; ISBN: 9780735219090.
Kya Clark is a “Marsh Girl.” She and her father live in the marshes of the North Carolina Coast. One day her mother packs a bag and leaves. The latter act takes years for Kya to get over, displaying the questions a child experiences when a parent disappears with no communication beforehand and never a word after in a telephone call or letter. Just gone!
For a long time, Kya stays away from her father during his alcoholic rages but then one days he recognizes that she is a woman now and begins to treat her differently, including taking her out fishing and having small conversation. Meanwhile, Kya learns to survive with plants and fish from the marsh and learns to catch fish that she sells in order to buy food for her very meager meals. She begins to collect different rocks, plants, etc from the marsh for comfort after her father suddenly dies.
Yearning to love and be loved, she begins a relationship with two men, one who abandons her in order to pursue his university dreams and the other who is found dead in what is probably a murder but which manifests few clues. Eventually, Kyra will be charged with the murder of Chase. A poignant trial follows in which Kyra talks about the fact that she has never communicated or done anything wrong but strongly asserts that the townspeople themselves have irrationally judged her, condemned her, and rejected her for years, without one iota of evidence to support their cruel attitudes.
Kya survives the trial and grows to be beloved by the first love of her life and to be accepted by the neighbors in town. Her botanical collections make her famous and financially wealthy. But the latter is not the essence of this novel. The need to love and be loved is what truly makes a person, whether human or from nature.
This is a remarkable novel with many messages but which really is a searing story of love and loss, friendship, betrayal, curiosity, survival and so much more!!! Highly recommended!