Where The Crawdads Sing
By Delia Owens
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780735219090, August 2018, 384pp.
The Short of It:
A coming-of-age story interwoven with nature and a touch of mystery.
The Rest of It:
I would say first and foremost that Where The Crawdads Sing is a coming-of-age story. But then, when you find yourself all wrapped up in the story, someone gets murdered.
Kya and her family live in the marsh. They are considered by the rest of the town as “marsh people”. Poor, scrappy, wild. Kya’s father is a straight-up drunk who beats his wife and anyone else who comes between him and his drink. One day, Kya’s mom just walks away from all of it (her husband, the shack, her four children) and leaves them all to fend for themselves. Then her sisters leave. Then her brother. Kya, at the age of 5 is left to manage the household and when her father eventually leaves, she’s forced to make do with what she has.
The story follows Kya as she struggles to piece together an existence. Her one saving grace, is the marsh itself. Kya sees the beauty all around her each and every day, but when she becomes a beautiful, young woman, she gets the attention of the town’s number one player, Chase Andrews, and it leads to trouble.
I really enjoyed the first three-quarters of Where The Crawdads Sing. The writing was lovely and I loved Kya’s will to survive and all the environmental elements of marsh life made reading this story a real treat. But I didn’t care for the mystery thread which felt a little tacked-on to me. I also felt that the trial at the end of the book was almost an after-thought. It felt out-of-place to me.
This book has gotten a lot of attention and praise. It has been chosen for numerous book clubs and there is plenty to discuss, but if I had my choice I would have skipped the murder plot all together.
Have you read it? What did you think of it?
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23 thoughts on “Review: Where The Crawdads Sing”
I haven’t read it but one member of my book club keeps suggesting it so maybe I’ll get to it one day soon.
I can see you liking it but wanting more of an ending. It would be a good book to discuss though.
I listened to the audiobook and loved it! I thought the mystery thread and trial was a great addition to the book. Loved the book from the first word to the last.
If the trial had been more played up and developed, I would not have minded it at all. I like trials, as a rule. It just seemed overly rushed.
So far I haven’t felt compelled to read this, but expect my book club will choose it one of these months. I’ll probably go the audio route if that happens… Cassandra Campbell narrates and she is a favorite. Thanks for the review, Ti.
I had ZERO desire to read it but there was this online club for it and so I hopped on board. However, that online club didn’t have a schedule so it was hard not to see a spoiler since we were all on different pages and attempting to talk about it.
I almost passed on this but so many raved about it so I read it. I did enjoy it but, yes the trial was probably unnecessary.
The trial was a bit weird. I love trials, normally. This one was so rushed. I also wanted to know more about the dad. And the Tate/Chase thing bugged me all the way through once Chase entered the picture.
I read it…I did really love it but it’s the kind of book that always appeals to me. I was caught up in it.
Did you eat grits while reading it? 🙂
This book fell flat for me, too, Ti.
I really loved most of it but it seemed rushed towards the end. Which is a shame because I was really enjoying the naturalist part of the story. I wanted to know what happened to the dad too. Maybe I missed it but I don’t think that was resolved.
I hadn’t heard of this until you mentioned it on your blog. I can’t imagine a mother walking away from her kids
Really? It’s gotten so much buzz. It was a Reese Witherspoon club pick and I think it’s being made into a movie. Yeah, this mom just walked away and then her entire family left a 5 year old to fend for herself.It’s so out there but it was riveting. I just think the end could have been handled better.
I suspect I’ll probably read it at some point – probably for a book group. It’s nominated for ‘Best First Mystery’ this year at the Edgars. Those awards won’t be given out until later in the spring – early May maybe. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wins based on all the talk I’m hearing in the ‘mystery’ community.
Wait!! Seriously? I do not put this book in the mystery genre at all. Yes, it has a mystery element to it but it’s thin. Very thin.
Yes, in recent years the Edgars have become less ‘traditional’ mystery or it seems like that to me. When the lists for Best Mystery and Best First are released, I’ve often not read a single one (that’s the case this year) and some I’ve not even heard of.
I agree with you about the mystery. Could have done without it. Have you read the author’s non-fiction? CRY OF THE KALAHARI is absolutely amazing!! Let’s you know how Delia was able to write about living along in the marsh.
This is sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to read it. I’m glad you gave me the heads-up about the murder plot near the end so that if I don’t like it, I can skim.
I can see all your points, I think I enjoyed this book so much because it was an atypical story. I loved all the nature/marsh descriptions. There were quite a few parts that were not realistic but I was willing to let it go. I enjoyed “the voice”. I was in the right mood for this book, if you know what I mean.
I read it and didn’t like it much at all. I thought most of the book was really unbelievable. I know it’s fiction but still.
Yeah I read it and liked it all right. I liked the parts about living in the marsh mostly (like you). It seemed a bit like To Kill a Mockingbird in its court case scheme. Here are my thoughts at : https://www.thecuecard.com/books/crawdads-varina-and-a-star-is-born/