Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"Fans of Barbara Kingsolver will love this stunning debut novel from a New York Times bestselling nature writer, about an unforgettable young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open. For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She's barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark. But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world--until the unthinkable happens. In Where the Crawdads Sing, Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a heartbreaking coming of age story and a surprising murder investigation. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens's debut novel 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"--
Publisher: New York :, G.P. Putnam's Sons,, 2018.
ISBN: 9780735219090
Branch Call Number: FICTION Owens Delia 08/2018
Characteristics: 370 pages :,illustration ;,24 cm


From Library Staff

#1 with 3,248 checkouts (No surprise here, when it was #1 on the holds list for at least 40 weeks! That's nearly 77% of 2019.)

Cedar Roe Library discussed this book on July 15, 2019.

JCLGladisO Dec 05, 2019

A coming of age story of abandonment, love, betrayal, and Murder. It is beautiful, sad and satisfying.

JCLHeatherM Nov 19, 2019

Delia Owen's debut fiction novel is a beautiful piece that challenges readers to look beyond the labels that we assign others in order to see the individual person. Gripping from start to finish, Owen spins multiple timelines together seamlessly to record a devastating incident and what led to th... Read More »

JCLKariE Oct 18, 2019

One by one Kya's family leaves and never comes back. Abandoned and alone, Kya lives in the marsh of Barkley Cove, North Carolina. The birds, the water and sand are her only companions. One thoughtful man, his wife, and a boy who loves the marshes almost as much as Kya are her only connections to ... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 11, 2020

I was so disappointed in this book. I'd waited weeks for it after hearing people at work talk about it. It really is only a step above a Nicholas Spark's story and you don't really care that much about any of the characters. I agree with another reviewer here who said it relies completely on backwater southern stereotypes.
It seems the authors was more intent on showing you she'd done her research on the ecosystem of the area rather than developing the characters and writing a plausible story. It often reads more as a term paper than a novel.

Jan 11, 2020

I don’t concur with all of the glowing reviews. I appreciated the unique premise—a blend of nature-writing, coming-of-age tale, and murder mystery—but I found the writing a bit stilted and inauthentic, especially the dialogue. On the surface, some of the characters seemed complex, but once I dug in a bit, they seemed one-dimensional. That said, it was an enjoyable enough read; I probably would have liked it better had my expectations not been so high because of all the hype.

Jan 11, 2020

A moody piece! Kaya turns to the only thing she can count on, the marsh. Her adventures lead her to the ultimate tragedy and near incarceration. She is then rescued by her lifelong relationships Unexpectedly. A story of abandonment and recovery.

Excellent read ... descriptions of nature and living in nature were compelling, complete with a surprise ending!

Jan 03, 2020

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was written by a scientist (zoologist) and it shows. The details about the natural world and poetry were beautiful. I was intrigued by the discussions of trauma and how it affects humans and relationships. This was refreshingly different compared to many of the other popular fiction books I've read over the past several years.

What others view as plot holes, I feel were intentional to get you thinking. As for what others felt were awful stereotypes, well stereotypes are often founded in truths; just be intelligent enough to understand that stereotypes don't apply to everyone. I very much appreciate the lessons in humanity that the author shares.

Jan 03, 2020

I feel a moral duty to review this book because it was so ungodly awful. It was over written with no character development and a complete reliance on shallow Southern stereotypes. It suffered from a wholesale failure to develop a plot that was not riddled with holes large enough to waterski through drunk. It was a writing workshop project someone outlined on a napkin after spending 10 minutes thinking about all the idiot Southerner tropes she could come up with, then wrote in a haze while sitting in a lounge chair (anywhere but the South) drinking boxed wine. And good god, the book must not have had one Southern reader before it got published because the descriptive details were complete garbage -- you cannot live on greens (even if you're feral and 7); hushpuppies big as goose eggs would be burned to a crisp on the outside and raw inside; you cannot dent a cast iron pan (your mama's pan will either look the same 30 years later or be rusty because you didn't use it). Seriously, make SOME effort if you are going to publish a book.

For those of you smitten by the South, read something by a real Southern writer: Ron Rash, Angie Thomas, Daniel Wallace, Dorothy Allison, Jesmyn Ward, Sue Monk Kid, Alice Walker....there are too many amazing talents out there to name. Don't waste your life reading crap. There's so much great writing out there!

AnnabelleLee27 Dec 31, 2019

While there were many fascinating elements (themes of nature, landscape, love, loneliness, and a strong female lead) in this novel, the characters were not complex enough to carry the plot which was not always convincing or believable. The first part was definitely the best and was both powerful and touching. Later on the book seemed to loose focus and it may have been better if it had tried to do less in a tighter, shorter format.

Dec 31, 2019

This is one of the best books that I have ever read. Captivating from the first page through the end.

Dec 24, 2019

I described this to a friend as a fantasy, and maybe all the readers who love this book use it to escape from the national and global problems we cannot control. The romance/murder plot is unsurprising. I admired Kya's reverence for biology--a worthwhile lesson from the book. Why could conventional spelling not be used? The awkward attempts to convey a dialect by misspelling become annoying.

Dec 21, 2019

As a first-time novelist, Delia Owens has woven a beautiful tale of rejection, love, compassion and coming of age. Her descriptions of the marshlands of North Carolina are so realistic that you are transported there every time one of the characters travels through them on a boat. Tragic in many ways, this story describes exactly what happens when someone perceived to be different is subjected to hatred and discrimination. Kya, the book’s heroin, is such a victim and yet with the love of one man, is able to rise out of ignorance to transform from the Marsh girl to the Marsh expert. Beautiful story with a surprising ending.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Oct 31, 2019

t3485tank thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Sep 19, 2019

AliceInWonderbread thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

Aug 07, 2019

nherrera61 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


Add a Quote
Jun 24, 2019

“She knew the years of isolation had altered her behavior until she was different from others, but it wasn't her fault she'd been alone. Most of what she knew, she'd learned from the wild. Nature had nurtured, tutored, and protected her when no one else would.”

Jun 24, 2019

“I wasn't aware that words could hold so much. I didn't know a sentence could be so full.”

Jun 24, 2019

“Sometimes she heard night-sounds she didn’t know or jumped from lightning too close, but whenever she stumbled, it was the land who caught her. Until at last, at some unclaimed moment, the heart-pain seeped away like water into sand. Still there, but deep. Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.”


Add a Summary
Dec 30, 2019

The novel’s main narrative opens in the marshland near the fictional town of Barkley Cove, North Carolina. Seven-year-old Catherine “Kya” Clark lives in a shack in the swamp with her mother, father, and siblings. However, one day, Kya’s mother leaves the shack forever in order to escape the physical abuse inflicted by Kya’s father. Kya’s siblings soon leave on their own as well, leaving only Kya and Pa. Pa spends increasingly more time away from the shack over the years, and when Kya is about ten years old, Pa leaves forever. Kya has become thoroughly self-sufficient by this time, living on the land and occasionally trading in town for necessary supplies.

When Kya is 14 years old, a kind local boy named Tate Walker begins to visit Kya, and he teaches her how to read. He is about four years older than Kya. He also gives Kya his old textbooks from school. When Kya is 15 years old, she and Tate fall in love, but Tate insists that they do not have sex until Kya is older. Tate soon leaves for college, and although he promises to love and remember Kya, Kya feels abandoned. When Kya is 19 years old, she suddenly becomes attracted to a young local man named Chase Andrews. Chase begins visiting her often. Chase says that he loves her and is eager to have sex with her. Kya refuses at first, but after about a year, she consents to sex.

Tate eventually returns to Barkley Cove in order to perform scientific research on the marshland. He visits Kya and asks for forgiveness, but she refuses to take him back. Tate sees that Kya has performed much of her own research on the marshland, and he urges Kya to submit it to publishers. Tate also warns Kya that Chase is a dishonest womanizer. One day, Kya sees in the newspaper that Chase has become engaged to someone else. She is heartbroken. Later, she submits her research to publishers, and when she is 22 years old, a book of her research is published under her name. Kya’s brother Jodie sees the book in a store and returns to the swamp to reconnect with Kya. Jodie encourages Kya to give Tate another chance.

Chase eventually visits Kya and says that he wants to continue his relationship with her, despite the fact that he is married to someone else. When Kya refuses him, Chase tries to rape her. She hits him and escapes. Kya realizes that because Chase is such a popular member of the town, and because she is an outcast for living in the swamp, she has no recourse. One day, in October of 1969, Chase’s body is found near the swamp. He appears to have fallen—or possibly have been pushed—out of a fire watchtower. The sheriff investigates and arrests Kya. However, the evidence is inconclusive and circumstantial, and Kya is acquitted. She and Tate declare their love for each other, and they live together in the swamp. Kya continues her career as a naturalist, and Tate continues his career as a researcher. Kya dies at age 64, after which Tate finds evidence that seems to prove that Kya killed Chase. He disposes of the evidence so that no one will ever find it.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at My Library

To Top