I did a google search for the term "crawdad." Turns out it's just another word for crawfish/crayfish. These "mini lobsters," also known as mudbugs or yabbies in the US, are known to Germans as "Sumpfkrebs" (swamp crab). I've never had crawfish, but research suggests you can include them in lots of runner-friendly dishes, such as risotto, pasta, and cornbread. In Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens tells the story of Kya Clark, known to her small North Carolina community as "Marsh Girl."
Where the Crawdads Sing currently has a rating of 4.56 on goodreads (which, with over 4,000 ratings, is as good as it gets for contemporary fiction). Did the book live up to its wildly high ratings? Well, it reminded me of Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See. When a new book reminds me of a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, that's usually a good thing...except for the fact that I didn't love All the Light We Cannot See (don't hate me?). Both novels are lyrical AF and go on for entire pages describing shiny shells, smooth sand, fragile marsh grass, and nibbling crustaceans. Yikes, I wish I cared more. Remember the repetitive symbolism with whelks and mollusks in All the Light? Yeah-- same stuff here. The main character literally communicates with gulls for paragraphs on end. You can skip entire pages and still not miss important plot/ character developments. I understand that some people enjoy this type of novel.
Where the Crawdads Sing is part coming of age story, part murder mystery, and part nature field guide. There's even some poetry in here. For me, the novel glows brightest in its descriptions of the interplay between Kya's scientific studies and sexual awakening. There are some hilarious passages describing Kya's (almost obsessive) interest in the mating habits of insects.
Was this book "beautifully written?" Yes. Was it one of my favorite books of the year? Far from it. But don't trust me too much. As we know, I gave All the Light 3/5 stars and it won the Pulitzer.