Page by page, Delia Owen kept me captivated with her beautiful prose, poetic glimpses, and images of Nature, almost Attenborough- like clips right through. The author knows the tricks of the genre. She begins the novel with a prologue set in 1969 in which a young man dies suspiciously in the swamp. Much of the rest of the book, floats around the investigation, in which bigoted /racist witnesses incriminate the young girl, referred to as the “ swamp girl “….
Kya is a lost, vulnerable human, who knows only nature, with all her reference points coming from her surroundings, and from the Creator. Her observations that mother animals and birds always return to their young, leads her poignantly to believe that her childhood solitude will be temporary.
In her struggles to comprehend her situation and to survive, every chance seems to be perpetually and unforgivingly stacked against her, yet she does survive the biggest of challenges and celebrates the smallest of victories….As in her living place of the swamp, sometimes the challenges almost swamp her too, the loss of her family, the violence of her father, the fear of being attacked or violated, the daily search for food, and the people who let her down throughout her life.
In the midst of all these fears, Owens paints a dream of a marsh in our minds eyes. The feathers, the shells, the gulls, the fireflies, even the smells come off the pages. One feels that Kya in all her vulnerability became more precious to us on every page, and we felt the need to protect her, yet her strength, dignity, selfcare and gritty determination were tangible, all of which contributed to her survival, and to the popularity of this book. She managed in her isolation to create a home, to cultivate beauty, to fall in love, to learn to read, to have a real relationship with nature, and to find her inner freedom. She not only survived mistreatment alone, but could mete out justice when necessary.
Relationships were removed from her upbringing but yet nature was her teacher and her friends. She was taught by the marsh creatures, by the seasons, by the waters beyond, and by the patterns of her environment which she knew intimately.
She also came to realize the strength of her emotions and her soul felt needs. She loves her brother when he returns, and is broken hearted for the return of her Mother. She falls in love with Tate…the good guy and hates Chaise …the bad guy…but Kya longs for so much more in her life, her spirit longed to be treated well and she thirst for righteousness and justice.
But the END ??? I will not spoil it for any of you planning to read this, by betraying the final chapters. I was totally taken by surprise at the end and . . . . .I wanted more for Kya as the final pages emerged . . . . .
I was glad I had read this book, and I was left with sense of great gratitude for life, for nature, for support, for family, for friends, for beauty, for solitude, for freedom . . . .yes! a worthwhile read surely!
Still on the best sellers list is“ Where the Crawdads Sing”, the first novel by the American wildlife Scientist and Zoologist, Delia Owens, and the bestselling book on Amazon, in 2019.
It tells the story of a young girl Kya, abandoned by her family, left to her own devices for survival. The main story line spans the years of 1952 to 1970 following the life of KYA CLARK when she was between the years of six and twenty five, growing up alone in a shack in the swamplands of North Carolina.
For me, this book was an escape, between the Pandemic raging in Ireland, and throughout the world at present, and nursing a painful tooth! I sank into its 370 pages with great enthusiasm and a longing for distraction !! I had no idea what the theme of this book was, apart from the positive comments of friends about it…