Summary from Goodreads:
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
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.
At its essence, this book is about an abandoned girl who must figure out life by herself. But it’s so much more than that. Part mystery, part coming-of-age, and wholly engrossing, you will not be able to put this one down.
When Kya is young, her mom walks out of the house and never looks back. Shortly after, all her siblings leave, and she’s left to fend for herself and deal with an abusive father. She doesn’t know how to read, count, or cook, and has to figure it all out alone, until a nearby boy named Tate starts helping her read. Along with Tate, Jumpin’, who works at the local store, and his wife Mabel, show Kya she is valued and loved even through all of the abandonment and discrimination she’s endured.
I could not stop cheering for Kya. She is the epitome of feminine strength and determination, and the definition of “picking yourself up by your bootstraps!” Living alone in the marsh, isolation and abandonment shaped Kya into someone very different than the girls in town, but she is clever and intuitive, taking cues from the wildlife and Mother Nature in order to survive.
The imagery of all the marsh life was so descriptive. I learned a lot about birds and marsh beings from this book, but in a way that didn’t just read like a text book. I also really liked the use of local dialect throughout the story. The chapters span back and forth from Kya’s childhood in the 1950’s to 1969 when the town’s favorite boy Chase Andrews is found possibly murdered and the Marsh Girl Kya is a prime suspect.
This is a book that sticks with you long after you turn the last page. It’s one of my favorites I’ve read so far this year, if not of all time. It’s beautiful, heartbreaking, and captivating. I recommend everyone read it.