Review of Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing presents the audience with mystery, love, and heartbreak in one exemplary novel. The novel begins with a young girl, Kya, and her family, including her abusive father. When Kya was six years old, her mother leaves her. As the novel progresses, her entire family ends up leaving, and she has to find a way to forge for her own. With the help of some other characters, Kya makes a system for keeping herself alive and safe until love finds her.
Kya soon falls in love with a boy named Tate. With all their incredible dates and adventures, it was nearly impossible not to fall in love. However, Kya struggles with trusting people with her heart once Tate leaves to go to college and doesn't return. When this happened, I was appalled at Tate’s actions. Tate and Kya’s love story was magical and seemed like fate, and when Tate left, it shocked me. Kya and Tate were always in a healthy relationship. Even though Tate was older, he never forced anything on her, and the novel proceeded with the intimate details about their time together. Tate and Kya had a deep love where they were infatuated with each other’s personalities and whole beings rather than just their appearances. As we learn more about their dates and the time they spent together, we see Tate continuously protecting Kya and showing her new things every day.
After Tate leaves, Kya meets and falls in love with Chase Andrews, the town’s most popular football star. For me, the biggest difference between Tate and Chase was the way they treated Kya. Tate was amazed by Kya’s beauty, but this wasn’t all he saw in her. He helped her experience the tiny thrills in life and knew what things made her happy. For example, he’d give her little gifts of unique things he found on the marsh, such as a specific bird’s feather. Chase was more taken by Kya’s beauty, but he wasn’t as keen on learning the little bits about Kya that made her who she was. He was more interested in the physical aspect of their relationship.
This new relationship made me feel a bit uneasy, because from the beginning we were told Chase was a player. Kya had just begun to trust again, and I believed that Chase would only hurt her more. However, as Owens described the gifts and dates Chase bought and took her on, I began to trust him and believe that he could be good for Kya. Yet, Kya’s heart gets broken once again once she finds an article in the town paper declaring the engagement between Chase Andrews and a friend that Kya had spotted Chase with constantly. Reading about this broke my heart for Kya. It made me think about Kya’s life and how she was continuously hurt with her parents both abandoning her, followed by Tate leaving, and finally when Chase left.
Even though Kya’s entire childhood was extremely abusive and traumatic, when she found Chase engaged to another girl, Kya was truly broken. Heartbreak is when you can physically feel your heart drop and your eyes begin to well with tears as you process what took place, but heartbreak can also be when you feel your heart drop but no tears follow and instead, numbness takes over. I think for Kya, heartbreak had built up over her life. It was a feeling so powerful and overwhelming that it caused her to kill Chase, as we find out later in the story.
This relationship was Kya’s breaking point because of how she found out. Chase never told her about the other woman. Along with this, Chase had fairly recently attempted to sexually assault her before she fought him and ran away. This was a huge turning point in the story because it affected Kya both physically and mentally. Trusting Chase seemed impossible, and it wounded her even more when she saw the engagement in the newspaper. I believe that this broke Kya because even though Tate and her family left, they had reasons to leave, and for Chase his only reason was that he didn’t want to be with her as much as he wanted to be with this other woman. Her heartbreak was especially powerful because Kya didn’t have a person in her life that she could vent to; this sense of deep isolation contributed to her overwhelming heartbreak.
Comparing Kya’s story to modern teens today is difficult. Most teenagers go through their own forms of heartbreak, whether it’s a relationship, a death of a loved one, or even an issue with friends. However, teenagers typically experience one or two forms of heartbreak throughout their high school and college years. Kya experienced multiple. It was a never-ending cycle of hurt, and it kept building because she never had a way to express her emotions.
As Kya went through her heartbreak, she moved on with her life, vowing to not trust any man with her heart. Soon, teenage boys found footprints near where Chase’s dead body was, and when detectives get involved, the murder trial for Chase Andrews begins. The detectives find clues that lead closer and closer to Kya, she finds herself the primary suspect of his murder. This was the section of the book that really twisted what I perceived was going to happen. Even though Kya had every right to be incredibly hurt and broken, I genuinely did not believe that she had killed Chase. When reading the final events of the novel, I began to process and think about heartbreak for Kya and teenagers all over. I processed Kya’s heartbreak as a response to all the hurt that she had experienced in her life, each event slowly building up and leading to her final breaking point. That’s how I believe teenagers feel when they experience a breakup or when they first receive devastating news, and for me, this was exceptionally shown in this novel.
Where the Crawdads Sing is an extraordinary novel with the elements of mystery and heartbreak embedded wonderfully in Kya’s story. The idea to have the murder trial and Kya’s life playing back to back worked phenomenally for this novel in particular. The events braided together built up an extreme sense of suspense to which I couldn’t stop reading. This novel is phenomenal and a read everyone should have.