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In Where the Crawdads Sing, author Delia Owens reminds us that human beings are not helpless in the face of adversity. There are always options if we are willing to make do with what we have.
Abandoned by her family at age six, Kya Clark scratches out a life for herself in the marshy coast of North Carolina. Taking advantage of what nature offers, she manages to feed herself, adapt to her environment, and educate herself in the ways of wildlife. Though she is white trash to most of the local citizens, Kya receives scraps of help from the few compassionate souls who understand her.
Kya is a resilient character. Her only vulnerability is her tender heart. Betrayed first by her family, later by a lover, she turns increasingly inward, until a local man’s death drags her into the spotlight.
The narration is beautiful and engaging. Through Kya’s experience, Owens deepens our appreciation of things we tend to take for granted: the beauty of bird feathers and sea shells, varieties of mushrooms, a flock of snow geese so dense that it turns the landscape snow white. Nature is a major player in the drama that enfolds Kya, and it is her love of nature that eventually provides her with a living.
A revelation at the end of the story troubled me. That, combined with some offensive language and sex scenes, limit my rating of this novel to four stars. However, Kya and her world linger fondly in my memory. I expect they will do so for quite some time.