Sunday, January 23, 2022

REVIEW: Where the Crawdads Sing (book) by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing is a "coming of age" story with mystery elements. I bought my copy used.


In 1952, when Kya is only six years old, she watches her mother walk away from their home and never come back. Over the next few years, her siblings all do the same, unwilling to deal with their abusive drunk of a father anymore, until finally only Kya is left. She figures out a way to live with her father and learn from him, but eventually even he disappears. The most reliable thing in her life becomes the North Carolina marsh in which she lives.

The story alternates between showing Kya's survival, growth, and desperate loneliness over the years, and the discovery, in 1969, of the body of Chase Andrews and the ensuing police investigation.

This is my local book club's latest selection. Although it's very much not the sort of thing I'd normally pick for myself, I thought it was a good and compelling read.

For me, the parts showing Kya's earliest years were the best. I worried about how she'd manage as, slowly but surely, everyone who might have looked after her and taken care of her left. Everyone either seemed to think she'd be fine on her own or had too many troubles of their own to also somehow simultaneously take care of a kid. It was a relief when people like Jumpin' and his wife stepped in to help when they could, but it seemed like they were outnumbered by those who knew at least a little of what was going on and did nothing.

Kya's interest in and love for the marsh in which she lived helped her survive and eventually even carve out a place in the wider world. I'm not an outdoorsy person by any stretch of the imagination, but I could easily understand her love for the marsh and picture her various collections, paintings, and drawings.

The mystery storyline involving Chase Andrews was initially intriguing, especially once I'd seen enough of the years leading up to his murder to get a better grasp of the situation. However, the last third of the book dragged a bit, and it was tempting to peek at the end and finally learn whatever it was the author was trying so hard not to reveal.

Overall, this was a good read that I'd almost certainly have never picked up if it weren't for my book club. It reminded me a lot of another one of our recent reads, Tara Westover's Educated, although that one was a memoir and significantly more gruesome. At any rate, I'm hoping everyone who attends the meeting either read the whole book or doesn't mind spoilers, because I'm looking forward to discussing aspects of the ending.


Includes a map of various areas on the coast mentioned in the book.


  1. You may have had the meeting by now, but all the book clubs I've been in had a rule that the ending COULD be discussed. If you showed up to the meeting, it was assumed you'd either read the book or would not be upset by spoilers. It is not fair to those who have finished the book before the meeting to withhold discussing the ending (or any part of the book, for that matter) just because some people haven't finished it. Because we ALWAYS had somebody there who had not finished the book.

    1. Due to COVID, we still haven't had the meeting - it's been rescheduled twice now, and I really wish we'd just transition to having them online.

      I know we've had meetings in the past where several folks hadn't finished the book (me included). I don't know that we have a stated rule that the ending could be discussed regardless, but that's generally what ended up happening. If I go to a meeting without finishing the book, I probably don't intend to finish it anyway, so I don't mind if the ending gets discussed. There was one meeting where one of the guys sheepishly admitted he'd only read the Cliff's Notes for the book (Stranger in a Strange Land, which I also didn't finish - even the people who'd read the book before and remembered enjoying it generally agreed it hasn't aged well).