Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens was a slow, lazy ride through the marshlands of North Carolina… and I enjoyed every moment of it. Kya is the youngest of a large family living in a shack in the marsh. Due to her abusive father, her mother and older siblings all leave one by one until Kya and her father are the only ones left. Now, the abuse Kya faces is neglect.
She is forced to school for one day, but she can’t tolerate the bullying. It’s not even worth the free, hot meal. She learns to take care of herself with nothing but seabirds, and her love of nature, as her comforts. The townspeople begin referring to her as the Marsh Girl. Her solitude changes when a boy a few years older than her, Tate, begins leaving her little gifts. Eventually, they develop a relationship in which he teaches her to read and they share their love of marsh life (and each other).
Tate goes to college, and Kya is abandoned again. This time a popular, handsome young man from town begins to get close to Kya (Chase, I think?). She thinks this time will be lasting and true, until she discovers that he is engaged. He has been using her as a mistress the whole time. She breaks off her relationship with him.
Eventually Tate tries to reconnect with Kya, who at this point is much more guarded. Chase also tries to reconnect. He aggressively confronts and attempts to rape her. When Chase is found dead, Kya is arrested and tried for murder. I won’t give away any more. And there is SO much more, including some information about Kya’s mom and siblings. Of course there is also the verdict and what becomes of Kya.
This is a story of steadfastness and finding beauty in unexpected places/people. The author captures the living, breathing importance of one’s environment, and how people and our land can shape us.