PanThe Art FuseThe narrative draws on the author’s naturalist background to vividly and critically depict a Southern society that’s still within living memory ... Unfortunately, Owens employs a very specific — and indeed all-too-familiar — twist to this tale of the intertwining of poverty and nature. The poor’s relationship to the land is not about their use of it or their efforts to achieve independence through nature. Instead, Owens presents a protagonist whose value lies through her symbiosis within nature; she doesn’t impact her surroundings, but finds all she needs to thrive. Once again, rural poverty is idealized; we don’t see the ‘country’ poor struggle to survive, economically, in the same way as the urban poor ... Kya is a figure who will please those who see nature as something that must be preserved, rather than cultivated by people who depend on it for their existence ... What Crawdads lacks is acknowledgment of how the ‘primitive’, ‘backwards’ South is pressing itself against (or being squeezed out by) the ‘progressive’, ‘elitist’ South. The narrative welcomes rural gentrification while serving up an air-brushed reproduction of small-town Southern pasts.