Set on the marshy North Carolina coast in the 1950s and 60s, the story follows Kya, a girl from a poor family who is left to fend for herself. She has an affinity for nature. Instead of going to school, trying to avoid the townspeople (most of whom are prejudiced against her as ‘trash’) she learns everything that can be known about the wildlife and ecology of the area. Interspersed with the descriptions of her growing up and finding love, there is a murder mystery, in which suspicion falls on Kya.
I did appreciate the minute details of wildlife observation as they are obviously written with love and there are some beautiful pieces of writing at times. It was certainly evocative of the landscape. I also liked the hint of To Kill A Mockingbird. However, the slow pacing was very off-putting and several chapters in, I was doubting my ability to finish the book. The beginning had me curious but the murder investigation occupies little space in the book as opposed to the meandering background story and the romance bits which used the word ‘groin’ several times (ugh). The poems were unappealing to me. Overall I didn’t hate every moment of it but I was rather underwhelmed, especially by the time I reached the end – which by the way is described as ‘surprising’ or a ‘twist’ by several critics on the praise pages inside the book, yet there was nothing I would call a twist.
In summary, this book did not captivate me and was more like ‘where the crawdads yawn’.
First published in 2018.