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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Friday Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

 Where the Crawdad's Sing

When I first started blogging with Wednesday Challenge and Top Ten Tuesday, I discovered lots of books I normally would not look for or find on Amazon or at a bookstore. Many of them were young adult, and since I'm not teaching teenagers anymore, not something I'm interested in.

A few books had rave reviews from lots of fellow bloggers. This was one of them. I fell in love with the story.

The e-book also had audio for a small price, and I chose to listen instead of reading. It was a good choice. The reader spoke in a stylized North Carolina accent which added depth to the characters simple reading wouldn't provide.

Kya Clark is left alone when her father abandons her to fend for herself in the wetlands of North Carolina. She survives by digging up muscles and selling them to a kindly the Madison's a black couple that run a general store and boat fuel business. She's able to buy food and fuel to survive at eight years of age. Mrs. Madison is there to help her through puberty, and always adds a little something like candy or a dress or shoes when she gets supplies.

The book is broken up between the 1950's and early 60's to the year 1968, where a hometown hero quarterback and owner of the Western Auto is found dead. It weaves the life of Kya growing up and then back to the investigation and finally Kya being arrested for the murder of Chase Andrews.

Kya's encouraged to attend school where she'll get a proper meal, but the first day she is shunned and ridiculed. She never goes back.

 The odds of her surviving are stacked against her. Tate Walker was friends with her older brother, before he left, starts leaving her feathers on a stump by her house, knowing she collected them. He leaves her a note. She tells him she can't read. He begins to teach her to read.

They become close and a romantic relationship starts, but Tate knows he's going off to college and doesn't want to use her and leave.

He encourages her with her drawings and watercolors of the flora and fauna of the wetlands. She reads every book she can find in the library and learns everything about them. Tate is impressed with her work and tells her to send them off to a publisher. She's not too sure about it.

Tate leaves and is gone for years. When she finds developers are getting ready to build hotels nearby, she checks on her land. Finds she needs $800 for back taxes. She sends off her first book and is able to pay her taxes to save her land. Also, able to modernize the cabin.

Chase Andrews observes Kya while he's out in the wetlands and slowly woos Kya. They become close until she learns he's engaged to another and he's only using her. She breaks up with things off.

Chase won't take no for an answer.

The rest of the story is about the number of books she publishes concerning the wetlands. The books start to gather interest in saving the wetlands and slows down the development. She's becoming well known outside of her town, but to the locals she's just the "Marsh Girl."

Tate comes back after college and is working with a biological center not far from her. She throws rocks at him when he first shows up. It takes a bit to get close to her again.

She's arrested for Chase Andrews death and the last of the book deals with her jailing and trial.

Okay, that's what you get if you watch the Netflix's movie. It is very well done, great acting and filming. It leaves the heart of the story out of it.

Reading or listening to the book you know what Kya is thinking and feeling, movies can't do that. It leaves out why her mother, brothers and sisters left her all alone with an abusive father.

When her lone sibling returns, Jodie, who was friends with Tate. In the movie she sees him coming and immediately recognizes him. It was 20 years since she'd seen him.

In the book the reason is when she was younger her father took a hot poker to him as he tried to stop his father from using the hot poker on his mother. He is left with a scar on the side of his face. That's what she recognized, left out in the movie.

At the beginning of the movie, it shows her mother painting still-life's of the land. How Kya grew up drawing and painting with her mother.

When Jody returns, having seen her book in a bookstore and he's stationed in Georgia in the Army. He tells her of how her mother survived with her family, being nearly catatonic for a year. What made her come out of the coma was painting. She died a few years before he found her, her family gave him her paintings. All of them showing the family playing and happy in different stages of growing up.

She puts them up in her cabin. Totally left out in the movie. To me that gutted the story.

Each chapter about halfway the book started with a poem from her favorite poet. All describing the wetlands at dawn, day, sunset and night. Left out. (Spoiler alert, she's the poet using a pen name.)

The question of did she or did she not kill Chase is left to the very last. 

You can fuss about the movie over the book, but I mention this because don't think seeing the movie is enough. READ THIS BOOK with a box of tissue handy.  

Berthold Gambrel is better when he does reviews of covering the theme and philosophy. of the story. What I took away from the story was the obvious that the town outside of the Madisons at the general store who took her under their wing while growing up, she was the "Marsh Girl" and were afraid of her, spread crazy rumors about her and they were the ones she faced on the jury. 

Fear of the other, racism to a small degree, when the Madison's sat behind her at the trial, the judge stopped the spectators from causing a fuss, by saying the trial was open to all as spectators. Were obvious themes concerning the setting and time period.

Mostly it was about a woman who overcame all odds, and with a desire to explore, learn, create, self-taught other that Tate teaching her how to read.

To a certain extent it reminded me of Harry Potter teaching the other students in Defense of the Dark Arts, when professor Umbrage wouldn't. That those who desire to learn will find a way.


Berthold Gambrel said...

Great review. I keep hearing overwhelmingly good things about this book. And thanks for the mention as well. :)

P M Prescott said...

You're welcome, Berthold.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

I love the book and loved the movie as well.
I've read that the author was suspected of murdering somebody in a similar manner years ago.

Lydia said...

I’m glad you liked this book. I’ve heard good things about it.

P M Prescott said...

I wasn't aware of that Yogi.

P M Prescott said...

Thanks for coming by, Lydia.