Dearest Lost, Found, And Forgotten: Shedding Tears Only Clears Your Vision, Not Theirs. Forgiveness Frees You, Not Them. Revenge Isn’t Any Sweeter If You Write A Poem About It.

Rejection is something a person can feel right through bone to soul without ever being able to spell the word. Loneliness roots deeper than any tree and grows without a sense of direction or knowing the science of sunrise and sunset. Justice may be slow to come, but it’s inevitable. Happiness isn’t a daily choice, nor is survival. Both are merely instinctive reflex whose importance can be realized and appreciated in retrospect.

Kya Clark is abandoned by her mother at six years old, left in a shack with her scarred siblings and an abusive father. The siblings escape, mostly without goodbyes, granted the option by their mother’s example. The father staggers away sometime later, having never confessed his shame and cowardice that’s ruined everything. Kya is a child who, without the voices of the marsh animals and the kindness of three people little more than strangers, would not have eventually thrived into womanhood. This could have been an amazing story.

I have now read three novels in under ten days, deliberately saving Where the Crawdads Sing for last. Why? Because I suspected it would be either very sad, or a complete drag on an overused concept that attempts to evoke sadness throughout until, yay, an ending of triumphant redemption: abandoned child lives on near nothing then becomes a phenom of some sort, able to prove to humankind she is special and shame on them for mistreating her. I was right enough.

The choice to pick up the book despite my suspicion was influenced by, one, all the accolades it’s received since publication, and two, the dim hope that I was wrong, and I just might find my favorite novel of all time. So … anyway.

There are lovely, poetic sentences, in this novel that I will never forget. Gorgeous imagery. Pity for a child left to her own devices, yes. Truth is that Kya and her environment got all of the author’s attention. Every other character was left to be cardboard stand-ins that couldn’t evoke a fingertip of emotion from me. I don’t care about Tate, or his gentle father, Chase, one of the many should-be despised villains of the story, the parents who walked off and left their children, Jody, the closest of Kya’s siblings whose name she remembered long after he left; I don’t even care about Jumpin’ and Mable, the kindest of Kya’s neighbors. I care more about the birds who came to Kya each day, the tides and currents and painted feathers.

My favorite of the entire story is the revelation in the final chapter. And even that was a bit soured by the author’s choice to lamely travel into Tate’s POV in order to give me what I really wanted: proof of Kya’s truth, the consequences due for mistreating one of nature’s wild things.

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