Perhaps the best compliment I can give Where The Crawdads Sing, which is a mere 18 months old, is that I just finished it and I do not want to start anything new yet. I need time to process it. Or to get over it. I’m not sure. The whole experience of reading it has me turned around and emotionally flummoxed. In the best way possible.
In fact, there is a 100-page stretch near the end where my heart was beating against my rib cage like an innocent prisoner to a wall, begging to escape. I am positive all my vitals signs read like a huge sports fan watching the end of a back-and-forth playoff game.
Different From Page 1
But let’s go back to the beginning. The premise of the story is quite unique. You’ll hear comparisons to To Kill A Mockingbird, and more distantly to books like The Help. And those are fair. But the setting and set-up of the main character, Kya, are not like anything I’ve ever read. The similarities will be obvious upon reading it and the only one I’ll mention, as not to spoil any of the plot, is that I appreciate deeply the author (Delia Owens) writing out the dialogue phonetically to reflect how people talked. Which reminded me of Aibileen’s sections in The Help. Especially Jumpin’, who likely will vault up your list of favorite fictional characters. This way of writing is endearing and floods my heart with joy.
Owens’ descriptions of the main environment of the book are both rich in detail and captivating. It reminds me somewhat of how J.K. Rowling describes places like Hogwarts and Diagon Alley, yet the magic here is that Owens isn’t describing fantasy castles or places of wonder and imagination. Her geography of choice is much more real and, at first, seemingly mundane. Yet, that becomes the moral of the book—we tragically misunderstand things, from a distance, that are light years from what they seem. The book teaches this is not only true of people, but of places. The setting is perpendicular from mundane.
Impact Well Off the Page…
Where the Crawdads Sing is the kind of book that you paradoxically want to devour so you can finish it and see how it ends, but also hate finishing because you want it to keep going. Every night I would read this book for about 30-40 minutes before I went to bed. And every day I would anticipate that half hour all day long. I would think of the main characters (of which are surprisingly few), plots and moral dilemmas as I was driving or even when I was supposed to be doing other things with my brain. As such, it was a phenomenal reading experience. One that impacted me well beyond the moments I was reading it.
I give it my most emphatic endorsement.
Five Stars Out of Five