Book Review – Where the Crawdads Sing

Does anyone else feel like reading actual books has just gone out the window these days? I mean, I remember growing up and carrying a book with me wherever I went. If we were going for a drive? I had a book. If my mom said, “go to bed”? I was hiding under my blankets reading whatever book I couldn’t pull my head out of.

I remember feeling sad whenever great books ended. I remember sneaking books into school and reading whenever I could get away with it. However, things changed when I went off to high school and had thousands of books to read for class and hours of rowing and hockey practice to sprint back and forth between. Despite all of this, I still read books for fun during breaks from school or while travelling for rowing regattas.

By the time I got to college, reading for enjoyment was something I just did not do. I think the only books I read for fun happened during my winter break my freshman and junior year. One of those books being Game of Thrones and the other being Why is Everyone Hanging out without me by Mindy Kaling. Oh and perhaps also Boys in the Boat. My point is that in the span of 4 years, I read 3 books for my own personal pleasure. That is crazy!

Fast forward a few years and here I am, a young professional working in tech.. and I still do not read. Well, until recently that is. It hit me one day after work that I was not reading but could be. My excuse while in school had always been “well.. I am already reading a lot for school… so I need a break from reading all day!” but here I am, not in school anymore.. and not reading.

I can already feel my writing abilities growing duller the longer I am out of school and my recent learning has come to a crawl. That being said, I want to continue learning and keep myself inspired to think creatively. And that my friends is how I decided to read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

About the Book & Author

After hearing friends and people on the internet rave about Where the Crawdads Sing, I decided to give the book a try. I mean, if Reese Witherspoon loved it.. maybe I would too!

Before I dive into my book review, I thought I would give you a little background on the book and the author behind the magic. After reading this book I did a little research on Delia Owens and was surprised by her background.

Delia Owens was born and raised in southern Georgia and was encouraged by her mother to, “Go way out yonder where the crawdads sing.”. Her family regularly vacationed in North Carolina during the summer time which formed Owens’s special attachment to that state. Despite her love for literature as a child, she decided to pursue a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Georgia and later her Ph.D.  in Animal Behavior from the University of California in Davis.


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Delia overlooks the Luangwa Valley in Zambia where she studied elephants for eleven years. Photo: Mark J. Owens. Photo source: Delia Owens’s website.

Most interestingly, Delia and her husband Mark spent most of their careers living and performing research in the Kalahari.  They lived in a basic tented camp for more than seven years while studying Kalahari lions, brown hyenas and leopards. In fact, Delia published her research on the evolution of social denning in brown hyenas which earned her Ph.D from UC Davis. They then ventured onwards to the North Luangwa Valley of Zambia to continue their wildlife research and focused more specifically on elephants. In fact, her research and conservation work while in Zambia earned her the Golden Ark award from Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and the University of California Award for Excellence. It was her research on the importance of female grouping in social mammals that influenced her fictional writing of Where the Crawdads Sing, a fictional novel about a young woman who grows up in social isolation.

After many years of living in Africa, an incident (involving a potential murder) occurred where Delia and her husband were forced to retreat back to the United States and since then have been asked not to return to Africa.

Looking for a home to call in the United States, they settled upon Idaho where they could spend time in nature. Delia then began writing her New York Times Best Seller, Where the Crawdads Sing, while living in Idaho.

I longed to write a novel immersed in nature writing, which would examine how our behavior today is influenced by ancient genes. I wanted to write a mystery that didn’t just ask the question who-done-it—but why the culprit behaved as they did. To explore human nature with nature writing.

I wrote a story of what happens to an isolated young woman, Kya, who’s been deprived of a pride. She learned about loyalty from herring gulls, and about dishonesty from fireflies, who change the pattern of their flickering lights to get what they want. The nearby villagers, who lived in a strong ‘troop,’ discriminated against Kya simply because she was different—and alone. Just as wild creatures do.

Source: Reese Witherspoon’s blog – Hello Sunshine

Short Summary on the book

From GoodReads:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

My Review of Where the Crawdads Sing

Reading this book was an absolute pleasure. I purchased this book before heading off to my trip to Costa Rica and picked up a second copy for my mom to read. It has been years since I felt immersed in a book which ignited the bookworm buried deep in me to come out.

I loved following Kya as she evolved from a frightened and abandoned child to a mature adult living in the marsh. As the book progressed I felt that I was there with Kya watching her grow up and learn about the world around her. Not to mention, I loved how Owens beautifully weaved her education in animal behavior into this book ALL while spinning a murder mystery. It was beautifully written to say the very least.

While I would love to give away all the details of this book, I don’t want to spoil this wonderful novel for anyone that may be interested in reading it SO I will just say that I enjoyed the ending of this book – it was both a shocker and what I had expected all along. I hope that does not give anything away!

Quick Review:

Would I recommend this book to anyone: yes!

How long did this book take to read: it took me 4 days total to read this book for an hour or two at a time. So maybe 8 hours? It’s not difficult to get through and finis.h

Favorite aspect of book: I loved the combination of nature and mystery. I have always enjoyed studying the environment and actually really enjoyed the few Environmental Science courses I took while in college, so I had a blast feeling like I was studying the marsh wildlife with Kya. I also enjoy mystery novels, so it was the best of both worlds!

Book Discussion

Ok, so now for the fun part. After talking about my desire to read more with my family, I decided that it would be fun to start my very own book club on here. I have no idea how well I will be able to run this, but I thought it would be fun for us all to push ourselves to read more AND to share our thoughts and feelings on the books we read.

Now that I have posted a few of my thoughts on this book, I want to hear from you all! If you have read this book, please jump in and let’s chat in the comments section of this post!

If you have not already read this book, feel free to pick it up from your nearest bookstore and join the discussion below once you have read it 🙂

As for the discussion questions, feel free to answer any or all of them. It is really up to you! I just want to get you thinking and for us to have a fun conversation around such a wonderful book!

Feel free to add me on GoodReads if you have an account!

Discussion Questions:

  1. What were your overall thoughts of this book?
  2. Do you think Kya’s decision not to go back to school was the right one? How do you think she would have been different if she had gone to school?
  3. Do you agree with Jumpin’s decision to protect Kya from social services?
  4. What thoughts did you have while reading about Chase? How about Tate?
  5. Where you shocked by the ending of this book? Or did you see it coming all along?
  6. What were your thoughts on Tate’s decision at the very end of the book?

 

11 thoughts on “Book Review – Where the Crawdads Sing

  1. I thought the book was okay and didn’t mind reading it. It was an interesting story. I would have made the young girl attend school or at least get some sort of tutoring. I felt the story was a little isolating with only being located in the same area for the lifetime of the character. I suppose that is what the author intended. I actually enjoy stories that describe different lands that inspire me to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I definitely would agree with you on the isolation aspect of the book being a little stagnant. I think Delia definitely intended for us to feel her isolation though, but I am right there with you in liking a little more adventure in the literature I read.

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  2. Interesting post, and review. Delia’s book looks fascinating. I’m probably very odd these days, but I always carry a book around with me if I think I’ll get a chance to grab a cuppa while I’m out. Admittedly, it’s usually about medieval history, but I’m also different because I read real books, not e-books. There’s nothing that beats the charm of holding the real thing and turning the pages. 🙂

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    1. No, I love that!! I wish I carried a book around with me more often! And I am right there with ya on not reading ebooks – it just doesn’t do it for me! There is something about physically turning a page that feels so much more enjoyable and rewarding to me than swiping.

      Thanks for stopping by Alli ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Whoa, Brittany! You went all out for the review post & I am so impressed. I follow a lot of book bloggers & none of them have included discussion questions at the end– how fun!! I love that you gave us some interesting background info on the author, too. I am so curious about the murder that got her banned from Africa. 😱 I’ve already got this book on my TBR but, I’ll be moving it higher to the top now. Thanks for your honest review!

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  4. Hi Britanny! I read and listen to a lot of books but I hardly read “real” books anymore – Kindle and Audible it is (and I’m not paid to say that LOL). I’ve read 39 books this year of which one was Crawdads. Mostly I was inspired by Reese to read it, haha.

    Anyway, I did enjoy it but not as much as everyone else seemed to. I thought the ending was too obvious and did see it coming long time in. The setting of the book was interesting, as marshlands are not something I’m familiar with. I’m glad I read it and would recommend it to others.

    Thank you for providing information on the author, this was all news to me and intriguing with the happenings in Africa. I wonder is they are banned from the whole of Africa or just one country there? Hmm… Unanswered questions!

    Hope you find time to read some more, here’s one recommendation: “The Grace Year” by Kim Liggett. It’s perfect for fans of Hunger Games and Handmaid’s Tale.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by!! Yeah, I think the ending was a bit predictable BUT there were a few times I started second guessing whether or not I really knew how the book would end.

      And I think Owens is currently banned from Zambia but I am not quite sure if that is the only country in Africa? I think the US Embassy has just encouraged her not to return to the continent as a whole for her own safety. Apparently she is a suspect in a murder there 😬

      And thank you thank you for your book recommendation! I am always looking for a new book to read so I really appreciate your suggesting one for me to read! Once I finish my current book I think I will give “The Grace Year” a try! I also have an audible trial at the moment AND have a cross-country drive coming up… so I may download that book to listen to during the drive! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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