Where the Crawdads Sing – Rich and Beautiful

I loved Where the Crawdads Sing, and it’s my favorite so far this year. Poignant, rich, and haunting, it deserves all the hype it’s gotten, and more.


  • Want a richly human read
  • Love deep, nuanced characters
  • Are in the mood for a well-written novel
  • Like rich settings with nature as its own character
  • Enjoy crime stories

TitleWhere the Crawdads Sing | Author: Delia Owens | Rating: 5/5

Poignant. I cried several times reading Where the Crawdads Sing, and still can’t place why.

It’s richly, deeply human, with nature its own complex character. The book follows two timelines that connect towards the end. The first is a 1950s timeline, where Kya Clark is living in marshland with her alcoholic, abusive father, siblings, and mother. Tension builds between the parents, and Ma leaves her children.

One by one, Kya’s siblings leave in turn, until one brother is left. He too, leaves. Kya is now stuck, as a 10 year old, with her father, until he, too, abandons her.

Kya learns to live off the marshland, with the help of a few locals. But mostly, she’s met with disdain, called the “Marsh Girl.” She went to one day of school as a 7 year old, and never returned because she felt so isolated and rejected by the other children.

She starts looking for mussels, she catches and smokes fish, and she sells them to a local, Jumpin’, who tries to help her as much as she’d let him. She becomes like a daughter to him, even though he’s “colored folk” and she’s “marsh trash.”

Kya learns about the marsh from living and breathing it. She learns to evade truant officers and learns to hunt and fish and live off the land. She’s becomes nature itself, living in her own isolated shack, heading to town only for gas for her boat and supplies.

Kya’s reference is nature, and nature becomes her mother. She’s beautiful, and boys notice her, though she doesn’t notice herself. One boy, Tate, was her brother’s friend, and he teaches her to read while awakening her sexuality. He leaves her to go to college, then to get his PhD, and doesn’t return to her for years.

Another boy, Chase, is rich and arrogant and wants one thing from her. He strings her along with promises of marriage, but then marries another woman without a word to Kya about it. She learns of the marriage through the newspaper.

Through all this, Kya reflects on sexuality and predation from observing the fireflies around her. She recalls how a female attracts a mate, then eats him alive.

Then, Kya is charged with Chase’s murder.

The story flits between the 1950s childhood timeline and the 1969 timeline with Kya as an adult charged with murder. The two timelines are woven tightly and beautifully.

Kya is rich and complex, as are the other characters. I fell in love with all of them, and throughout the story, aspects of many of the characters are brought to life in quiet ways that are still richly impactful.

I loved Where the Crawdads Sing, and it’s my favorite so far this year. Poignant, rich, and haunting, it deserves all the hype it’s gotten, and more.

8 thoughts on “Where the Crawdads Sing – Rich and Beautiful

  1. Nancy says:

    I loved this book too! I choose it for my book club in March since it was my turn to host…then it was delayed until April, and we now plan to read it in September when we feel it is safe to meet again. I look forward to hearing what my friends think about the wonderfully evocative book.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Claire 'Word by Word' says:

    I agree, I thought it was a beautiful characterisation of someone living outside of normal society and surviving, learning more from the clues that nature gave her than from anything society might impose. The acclaim it’s received totally deserved.

    Liked by 2 people

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