Where the Crawdads Sing is a book that has been all over social media, so I was intrigued to have a read and see what everyone was talking about.
The story starts out with a mystery when a favourite local son, Chase Andrews, falls to his death. His family and the townspeople turn their attention to a mysterious girl who lives by the swamp.
The girl, Kya, was abandoned by her family in the hut where they lived, becoming an outcast in the nearby town, where she becomes known as the Swamp Girl.
Despite her loneliness, she builds a life for herself, appreciating the company of the birds who become her family and the natural world that accommodates her in a way that the townspeople never have.
She experiences first love with a boy who shares her passion for the landscape, but is once again disappointed when he abandons her in the way her family did years earlier.
Kya becomes embroiled in the mystery of how Chase fell to his death, exposing all of the prejudices that have shaped Kya’s life.
I really enjoyed the story of Kya’s survival and how she was nurtured by her environment after her family betrayed her. The descriptions of the swamp setting were beautiful, and offered a new perspective on those who live on the fringes of society, whether in the US or closer to home.
However, my enjoyment of the book was not as great as it might have been if I had not previously read The Choke – another book about a neglected girl, and one of the best books I’ve read in recent years.
This book was far less lyrical than Sofie Laguna’s award-winning book, and some elements that made the reader have to work a little too hard to suspend disbelief.
However, where The Choke was confronting, Where the Crawdads Sing was an easy read that stayed on the side of entertainment, rather than being particularly moving or affecting. It’s no surprise that it has attracted so many readers, as it is a worthwhile, evocative and well told story, and I found the ending to be strangely satisfying.