Welcome again to Third Thursday Staff Recommendations! This still-new blog features staff member reviews of their favorite books. This month, Angie Simmons, our new page, delights us with her review.
Jumping on the Bandwagon With a Wildly Popular Bestseller
By Angie Simmons
It seems like everyone is reading
Where the Crawdads Sing, so I figured I’d see what all the fuss was about, and why the debut novel has dominated the best-seller list since fall of 2018. It got a huge boost of popularity after being chosen by Reese Witherspoon for her online book club, and again in December when it was announced that it was being optioned for film adaptation by Fox, with Witherspoon as a producer. It was also chosen as this month’s selection for a book club that I’m a part of, and thankfully, since our copies fly off the shelves, I was able to borrow one of the library’s Nooks to check it out.
The novel is about Catherine “Kya” Clark and her life in isolation as the “Marsh Girl.” At six years old, Kya watched as her mother walked away from their shack in the North Carolina marshes, abandoning her children and fleeing an abusive marriage. One by one, Kya’s siblings also left, including her much beloved older brother. Kya had to learn to fend for herself, how to feed herself when Pa didn’t come back for days at a time, and how to hide when he was drunk and angry. Finally, around age ten, Kya’s father, a battle injured WWII veteran, stops coming home all together. Just reading about all of the abandonment made my heart ache for this little girl, who’s only family left were the wild birds that she always managed to feed.
Kya did venture out of her marsh for supplies, which led her straight to Jumpin’, an African American business owner. Jumpin’ and his wife, Mabel, helped clothe Kya, made sure she always had food, and taught her some very important lessons about growing up. Most of my favorite moments in the novel were when Kya was being mothered by Mabel, or interactions between her and Jumpin’.
Other townsfolk shunned Kya, called her “Marsh Girl,” and shared wildly untrue stories about her. All except for two boys. One, from a blue collar family, was a friend of one of her brothers and taught Kya to read and write. The other, from a prominently wealthy family, encouraged Kya to push her boundaries in both good and bad ways. Kya, tired of being lonely, let them both into her heart.
Kya’s growth, isolation, and love interests are just part of the book. The story began with two young children finding the body of the town’s beloved former quarterback, Chase Andrews. Police find that Chase was murdered, and as the 1969 investigation unfolded, chapters switched back and forth between the current investigation and Kya’s past.
This is the debut fiction novel for Delia Owens, an award-winning nature author. Her expertise is evident in the vivid descriptions of the marsh and swamp, including flora and fauna.
Arguably, this is also what I disliked, and where I got lost. I think the descriptions went on too long, and the wordiness of the details caused me to start skimming whole pages at points. I also think Kya’s habit of reciting poetry was a little overboard, but I think the twist related to that was larger than the twist or end reveal in the murder.
I’d give it three out of five stars. It wasn’t something I’d be ikely to read it again, but judging by the rave reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, I’m one of the only people that felt that way. Check it out, and then come tell me what your thoughts are!
Also, be sure to check out more mystery novels in our special April display:
Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosley –
In L.A. in the late 1960s, Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins finds his life in transition. He’s ready to propose to his girlfriend, start a life together, and has started a new detective agency. But, inevitably, a case gets in the way: Easy’s friend Mouse introduces him to Rufus Tyler, a very old man everyone calls Charcoal Joe. Joe’s friend’s son, Seymour (young, bright, top of his class in physics at Stanford), has been arrested and charged with the murder of a white man from Redondo Beach. Joe tells Easy he will pay and pay well to see this young man exonerated, but seeing as how Seymour literally was found standing over the man’s dead body at his cabin home, and considering the racially charged motives seemingly behind the murder, that might prove to be a tall order.
Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James – The characters of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice are drawn into a tale of murder and emotional mayhem when Elizabeth’s disgraced sister Lydia arrives at Pemberley hysterically shrieking that her husband Wickham has been murdered.