Book Review of Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing
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One by one, Kya's family slipped away from the tiny cabin in the marsh and from Kya, until finally she was alone. She was ten years old. No money, no food, no adults; she learned to provide for herself and to depend on no one but herself. And always she watched for the return of her mother, because mothers don't leave their children. Except this one did.

They called her the Marsh Girl and intended it as a term of derision. She eventually wore it as a badge of honor. They reluctantly let her attend school but she could only deal with the name-calling and harsh treatment for one day. After that, she returned to the marsh and outsmarted the truant officer every time he showed up.

She dug mussels and caught fish to sell for money to buy grits, even though she scarcely knew how to cook even grits . She lived on them for days on end. She slipped in and out of town, trying to avoid being seen by anyone. And always she explored the marsh, learning of its ways and accepting its treasures.

She collected feathers and shells, common and rare, and as the years passed, she began to catalogue them as if they were in a museum, painting beautiful pictures to accompany them, adding explanatory text based on what she had learned.

Gradually she developed a tentative friendship with her brother's friend Tate, who shared her love of the marsh and its ways. He taught her to read and brought her presents from the marsh they both loved. Then Tate abandoned her like everyone else had.

Chase didn't exactly abandon her. He was never really there with Kya. The former high school football star pretended well with her until the day his body was found, broken and dead, by two young town boys.

During the investigation of his death (murder?), many of the town's old prejudices against the Marsh Girl reappeared. She immediately became the prime suspect, regardless of the evidence or lack thereof. In jail during her trial, Kya grieved her separation from the marsh she so loved.

The ending of this beautiful, sad book gob-smacked me. I'm still trying to work my mind around it but I highly recommend you read it.