If you’ve spoken with me about books at all in the last year, I’ve either recommended you read only classic Sci-Fi or I’ve enthusiastically talked your ear off about two books, one – Little Fires Everywhere, and the other – Where the Crawdads Sing, both exquisite.
Usually, around Autumn time, I start getting a hankering for being read to rather than hauling around physical books everywhere in my bag in case I find a sunny spot to set myself in. It was around this time last year that I came across Where the Crawdads Sing and I sunk into the cosiness of the audiobook version.
Please though, if you are going to listen rather than read…use the sleep timer. As I listened to this book I got so into it that I’d be listening at all times of the day and ended up with headphones in as I lay in bed at night. There I lay, drifting, drifting and suddenly I woke in the late hours of the night and as I roused from my sleep they were doing the “big reveal”. I’d ruined the story for myself… So, lesson learned.
There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.
Abandoned by her family, we follow Kya at age six and follow her over the next 18 years of her life as she raises herself in the isolation of the marshes by a small town in North Carolina. She is shunned by the community, a mysterious girl made into the stuff of misguided stories and lies, but she is more than they believe her to be, learning from her surroundings and the natural world about the order of things – she becomes a woman sculpted by the sand, water, plants and creatures that surround her.
When a local man is discovered dead in the marshes by two young boys the town presume Kya to be guilty of murder. The timeline jumps back and forth between her childhood and the investigation of the death.
Sometimes she heard night-sounds she didn’t know or jumped from lightning too close, but whenever she stumbled, it was the land who caught her. Until at last, at some unclaimed moment, the heart-pain seeped away like water into sand. Still there, but deep. Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.
I wanted to stay in the quiet solitude of Kya’s world for a good while. The marshes made a beautifully wild setting for her: equally as wild, equally as intelligent, equally full of quiet thought. I fell in love with how, as she raised herself, she was also being raised by Mother Nature.
Oh, this book is so delicately fierce. It’s intelligently and carefully written. It’s evocative, drawing on themes of social division as well as one of the close connection between humans and the environment. I only wish I hadn’t spoiled the story for myself by finding out the end when I was only partway through!