Some readers may predict the outcome of the novel, but none will reach a consensus to the dilemma Owens presents in her bestseller.
For years, rumours of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
Dialogue is written as if the author were a native of the region. The slurring, the elisions, the contractions, all add authenticity to the conversations between the southerners of the novel. However, Owens raises the bar of her prose with complexity and increasingly descriptive scenes, one page after another, detail and phrasing that should awe any reader. Vivid detail abounds, about nature, the flora, the fauna, rural life in North Carolina.
However, Owens’ novel is not merely polished, well-written entertainment. Rather it is an engaging presentation of how people live challenging lives and how they respond to these struggles and challenges.
The life challenges presented to our protagonist, Kya, are horrendous, each seemingly worse than before. Then, a catastrophic event, a death which when examined more closely is labelled a murder.
Our heroine, so personable, so likeable, so engaging for much of the book becomes the accused.
The legal developments are as engaging as any written by John Grisham. Support for Kya’s innocence is easy to believe and accept. In fact, readers will be hard-pressed not to support Kya. The evidence vacillates between her innocence and her guilt.
The verdict finally rendered by the jury will cause endless discussion among book clubs.
Was justice served? Was the verdict right? Could justice be blind?
Can two wrongs make a right, ever?