Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens [8/10]

A killer opening scene on a white trash stretch of the North Carolina coast sets “Where the Crawdads Sing” on a chugging, rewarding trajectory through the life of Kya Clark, the local “Marsh Girl.” Delia Owens, a wildlife scientist with well-regarded nonfiction books to her credit, lifts this book up from the scrum of coming-of-age tales through her descriptions of the wild coastline and its birds and wildlife. Her descriptive prose sings in a decidedly traditional way. The story itself often creaks on the edge of predictability – think “Marsh Girl falls for two boys, one good, one bad” – but is always wonderfully rescued by the lush details of isolated Kya’s life and her network of occasional friends. And I was most delighted that the backbone plot of murder (maybe), investigation, and court room scene, works like a treat. Three quarters of the way through “Where the Crawdads Sing,” an echo of a much-loved book surfaced. Yes, I whispered, this is the new “To Kill a Mockingbird“! That realization helped me fall into easy sentimentality over the final, satisfying quarter of the book. Transcending itself, Delia Owens’ novel deserves a huge readership.

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