A book review.
I just finished reading Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
All. The. Feels.
The naturalist within me sang circles and ran around excitedly, arms in the air and miniature binoculars on the ready — while reading this intensely poetic and nature-filled joy of a book. To say that I could not put it down is an understatement. I was consumed by it. And it has been a very long time since a book has affected me this way.
Reminiscent of my reading of Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac in my college years, this book had all the nature I needed with a healthy dose of character development and plot. The story carried me on wings of curiosity while the characters unfolded, each to a different amusement. For me, it was the immersive experience that always seek in reading a book. I want a book that sweeps me away to new places and makes it hard for me to "come up for air." Don't you? Don't you want characters that seem so real you feel like you have known them all your life? YES! Me too!
For this to be Owens' first novel —it is quite an impressive read.
I am from rural North Carolina and am quite familiar with our beautiful coastal marshlands, but this deep dive into the region was spectacular. Some of the descriptions reminded me more of regions further south, but as the story moved through these lush marshes — I didn’t care if the precise trees, grasses, or Spanish moss dripping from the trees was exactly right.
For once I didn’t find myself looking it up — to be sure the nature descriptions were right for the area. It infuriates me to read books that get the seasons and the botanical inclusions all wrong. This story carried me so well and the descriptions were so on point that I didn’t feel the need to investigate. It felt right. The author, being a nature scientist herself, had such a strong and authoritative, trustworthy voice throughout, that the reader is left to just enjoy the narrative.
Omniscient POV was also a great choice for this novel. The reader is able to have a birds-eye view of this sleepy town.
And speaking of birds — as someone who thoroughly enjoyed my college ornithology classes and enjoyed the fieldwork that happened to be on the coast of North Carolina — I wholeheartedly loved the birds in Where the Crawdads Sing. The birds were so involved in the story that they are almost a character in and of themselves.
I would say, as well that the marsh is its own character — as fully developed as the human characters in the story. All five senses, as well as a deep sense of wonder, are engaged throughout the story by the movements and moods of the marsh, so loved by the “Marsh Girl.”
This is a beautiful debut novel celebrating wildlife, natural experiences, and leading us through a moving coming-of-age story into a gripping murder mystery.
This book has it all. I was moved to laughter, to wonder, to fear, and to tears. If you read a book at all this year — let it be this one!
A billion stars!