Where the Crawdads Sing [Book Review]

September 28, 2018

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (cover) Image: white text over the image of a person paddling a canoe on water surrounded by trees

Genre/Categories: Women’s Fiction, Southern Fiction, Coming of Age, Family Life, Survival


Living in the marsh outside a quiet, small town on the coast of North Carolina, Kya Clark, later known as the “Marsh Girl,” is abandoned by her entire family and learns to survive in the marsh on her own from the age of ten. One by one her older siblings abandon the family, her mother leaves when Kya is about seven, and finally, her father, a difficult, unreliable, and drunk man, leaves when she’s ten. Kya attends school for one day after a truant officer catches her. On that day, she is teased by the students, knows she’s hopelessly behind academically, and never returns. Preferring the isolation and safety of the marsh, she learns what she can through observing nature. Although she can survive on her own, she begins to long for companionship as she reaches her teen years. Two boys from town attract her attention. One of them turns up dead, and she is suspected of murder. The other becomes a life long supporter and friend. A coming of age story with a fair share of tragedy, mystery, and grit, this is an unforgettable read you’ll want to devour and recommend.

Amazon Rating: 4.8 Stars

My Thoughts:

While I loved Where the Crawdads Sing, this story might not be for everyone and comes with trigger warnings for some child neglect and abandonment.

What I loved most: structure and style. Where the Crawdads Sing is atmospheric and engaging from the first page to the last. In addition, it’s an easy reading narrative that flows well and is pleasingly balanced between character-driven and plot-driven. The author creates an amazing sense of place and a memorable and unforgettable character. As a bonus, the author’s background as a wildlife scientist enables her to include many fascinating scientific facts and details about the marsh.

This story came to me at the right time as I was in the mood for an intriguing, well written, page-turner, and Where the Crawdads Sing did not disappoint! It will most likely appear on my best of 2018 list.

Along with an emphasis on science and the marsh habitat, the author creates vivid and colorful local characters that enhance the story and includes a surprising plot twist at the end (which I have mixed feelings about).

Kya Clark is certainly a most compelling character. Resourceful, brave, cunning, a gritty survivor, and clever, Kya creates a life for herself despite the most difficult and disheartening circumstances. There is a person in town that she learns to trust and who becomes as important to her as a father. He watches out for her the best that he can which is difficult because he’s African-American and is dealing with issues of hate and segregation in his own life. He understands Kya and respects her freedom and her need to live her life on her terms even though she’s so young. Despite Kya’s ability to create a life for herself as a wildlife artist and illustrator and is eventually able to trust herself to love, there is a plot twist at the end that will force you to reevaluate Kya and the decisions she’s made.

Themes in Where the Crawdads Sing include belonging, abandonment, survival, trust, coming of age, family, and caring for others. There’s a great deal to reflect on or to discuss (if this is a book club pick) as the story unfolds.

The Ending: I have mixed feelings about the morally ambiguous ending. If you consider the author’s premise that Kya learned life’s lessons from marsh creatures, I guess the ending falls into perspective. However, I wonder if this is enough of a justification for Kya’s actions. Definitely a great topic for book club!

Recommended for readers who are looking for an engaging and unique story with a strong female protagonist. It would make an excellent book club selection because of the various discussion possibilities.

Triggers/Content Considerations: child neglect and abandonment.

My Rating 4.5 (rounded up to 5 Stars


where the crawdads sing

Where the Crawdads Sing Information Here

Meet the Author, Delia Owens

delia owensDelia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in Africa including Cry of the Kalahari.

She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in NatureThe African Journal of Ecology, and many others.

She currently lives in Idaho. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel.


Have you read Where the Crawdads Sing or is it on your TBR?
Who is the most memorable character in your recent reads?

Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!

Looking Ahead:

This week I’m reading an ARC of The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain (pub date: 10/2). It’s different from my usual genres: heavy on science fiction (time travel), a bit of hisfic (as the characters travel between 1970 and 2018), and some suspense. I would characterize this as an escapist read! Full review coming soon.

dream daughter

I’m also ready to begin The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris because my library hold came in. (taking a deep breath for this heavy read)

tattooist of auschwitz

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27 thoughts on “Where the Crawdads Sing [Book Review]

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  3. I just finished this book, and it was very intriguing–that plot twist at the very end has been on my mind too much ever since! Loved all the marsh wildlife and biology information. And right, not for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

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