Melany Perez

I’ve been in a reading rut for the past 19 years.

While this is an exaggeration, finding a good book and keeping a consistent reading streak has never been my strong suit.

My “endless” amounts of homework and overbooked extracurricular schedule were always to blame. I felt like I just never had the time to enjoy a book. I was always occupied with something else. Then again, even when I would have the time, there seemed to be some other activity that called my name with a voice that yelled louder than the pages of any book ever did.  

Reading for pleasure felt like a chore. 

I constantly tracked markers of progress: how many pages I’ve read, how many pages I had left in a chapter, how many minutes have passed. Pleasure reading just always fell out of my grasp, no matter how hard I tried to hold on. 

However, over winter break, I think I found the panacea for anyone that, like me, would diagnose themself with a case of chronic reading rut. The medicine? “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. 

I borrowed this book from a friend one day after explaining to her that I needed a good book to read. So that night after she gave it to me, I curled up on the cozy blue chair in the corner of my room, and I began reading… 

… and I did not stop. 

I was hooked. I couldn’t put this book down. I finished it over the course of two days. 

I can’t remember the last time this happened to me. So, do yourself a favor and read this book. 

“Where the Crawdads Sing” tells the coming-of-age story of Kya Clark, a girl who is forced to raise herself in the marshes of North Carolina after her family abandons her. She spends most of her days out in the marsh collecting plants, bird feathers and shells, amassing an impressive collection and cataloging her findings. After years of isolation, she becomes romantically involved with two men from a nearby town. However, when one of the men is later found dead, Kya is accused of his murder and must try to prove her innocence to a town that’s against her. Simultaneously a bildungsroman, a love story and a murder mystery, this novel is exciting, enthralling and everything you could ever want in a book. 

While I could discuss this novel endlessly, I’ll break down this review into my three favorite aspects of the book: structure, themes and characters. 

Structure: Throughout the novel, Owens alternates between timelines of the past and the present, almost as if they are two different stories, until they ultimately converge into one. This feature makes the book so engaging and difficult to put down because as you read, the timeline from the past starts to catch up to the one in the present, and it becomes evident how the stories overlap. What makes these alternating timelines easy to follow is that each chapter is marked with a year, so you always know exactly where you are in time.

Themes: Owens also does a masterful job of addressing a variety of themes into one book without it feeling forced. She demonstrates how nature, isolation, love and family contribute to one’s growing up and maturity. Her use of setting effectively ties together each of these themes. The marshes illustrate Kya’s separation from society, the importance of nature in her life and her need for love. 

Characters: As I read the novel, I felt as though I was living alongside Kya and experiencing everything she was experiencing. It was impossible not to empathize with her. Owens’ characterization of Kya also made me look at my life from a different perspective. The way that Owens describes Kya, her actions and her situation made me do some introspection and think about the things that I sometimes take for granted, like holidays and time with family. 

So whether you’re an avid reader or someone who needs a little motivation, this book will surely cure your reading rut.