What I’m reading: An ending that will stay with you forever
DELIA OWENS: Where the Crawdads Sing
I’m a couple of years late reading this novel, which is surely set to become a modern classic. Abandoned by her mother and her siblings, Kya Clark grows up in a shack in the North Carolina marshes with only her brutal alcoholic father for company until even he disappears. Scorned by almost all the townspeople, she gives up on school after just one day. A local boy teaches her to read; they both become experts on the flora and fauna of the swamp and the ocean. When the boy leaves to go to college, Kya replaces him in her affections with a rich-kid lothario who we know from the beginning is destined to die under mysterious circumstances.
Delia Owens brings the marshes and the creatures that live there vividly to life. She has a wonderful way with words: ‘Barkley Cove served its religion hard-boiled and deep fried.’ Inevitably, Where the Crawdads Sing brings echoes of other great writers from the Deep South, notably Harper Lee and Truman Capote. The rustic courtroom scenes have all the drama and tension of To Kill a Mockingbird.
More than once this heartbreaking story of love and loss brought tears to my eyes. The ending is one that will stay with you forever. This is without doubt one of the finest novels this century is likely to produce.