Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing

eBook - 2018
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More than 6 million copies sold
A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick
A Business Insider Defining Book of the Decade

"I can't even express how much I love this book! I didn't want this story to end!"--Reese Witherspoon

"Painfully beautiful."-- The New York Times Book Review

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.

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.
Publisher: [S.l.]: Penguin Publishing Group, 2018.
ISBN: 9780735219113
Branch Call Number: eBook CloudLibrary
Characteristics: 1 online resource


From Library Staff

I did enjoy this because its filled with lots of mixed emotions. Kya, the main character, is trying to survive by herself from a young age. She has been abandoned by those who should teach her, guide her, protect her. She has to fend for herself. Two men come into her life and teach her about the... Read More »

#1 Adult Fiction Book

Tied with Educated for books read by 2019 Adult Summer Reading participants!

From the critics

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Gina_Vee Jul 13, 2020

I finally read it. Though it's a good book, I have no idea what the hype was all about.

Jul 10, 2020

This was just okay for me. I found the descriptions of the marsh beautiful however I think the story line was just a bit too far-fetched.

Jul 06, 2020

A fine summer read.

Jun 28, 2020

I found this book on the New York Times Bestseller list. I have to say, how great this book is is justified by how long it has been on there. The story begins with little Kya, happy with her family, but only because she is too young to see the tensions brewing within. One by one, all her family members leave, and she is left alone to carve out a life for herself in the marshes of North Carolina. She prizes her isolation, running away from other people when they get too near her shack, but two men from the nearby town manage to coax her out of her little bubble. What ensues seeds distrust, breaks hearts, and even kills. A whole town is suspicious of her. Will she ever find peace again?
For the most part, this is a wonderful book. Kya is a likable and interesting character, and the same goes for the story itself, although I am not fond of the ending. It seemed a bit rushed and was less than believable. Overall though, it is a must-read.

Hillsboro_JeanineM Jun 28, 2020

At times I wasn't sure what I thought of this book but the first 100 pages flew by. I sometimes wondered about the quality of the writing or maybe felt the poetry was clumsily introduced but by the end of the book I can honestly say it was a worthwhile read. Kya's love of the marsh and her development as a self-taught naturalist, potential for love, and a murder mystery keep you engaged and hoping for resolution.

IndyPL_ShainaS Jun 27, 2020

I can't say I was disappointed in this book because I had no expectations going in; I just knew how popular it was with circulation numbers and book clubs. Honestly, so much of the story fell flat for me. I liked the nature descriptions, but the characters were almost non-existent, except for our protagonist, Kya, but even her character growth, especially with the contrived twists at the end, wasn't engaging or fully realized. My tag "feels like young adult cliches" is in regards to how almost all of the plot and catalysts for Kya's development are spurred by men, showing up in her life and abandoning her (although the /first/ person to leave her was her mother). There's a "good" love interest and a "bad" love interest and Kya's life just seemed to plod along until they interacted with her. I got the impression that the author just didn't want to write about any of her other characters, because very little is given about them, and some are even introduced, sort of, towards the end that you would think would be important, especially to Kya, but *shrug*. Also, I was just personally miffed that a person who has been abandoned all her life wouldn't even consider adoption (I think an oversight on the author's part). The ending felt rushed and sloppy, just glossing over the rest of Kya's life, which is a shame. This book had some interesting ideas and a main character that could have been intriguing, but overall it felt cliched, underdeveloped, and overshadowed by the marsh and its descriptions, that almost solely defined the protagonist.

IndyPL_SteveB Jun 27, 2020

This is primarily a story about the survival and eventual maturation of Kya, a girl who was abandoned by her mother at age 6 and by the rest of her family over the next couple of years. She grows up in a marshland in North Carolina, near the ocean, and learns to take care of herself. But it is also a murder mystery, about a murder which takes place many years later. Kya’s life and the murder investigation form two distinct timelines, which are explored early in the book. We know who the victim is right away and we assume that there will be a connection with Kya. This future murder hangs over young Kya’s story like a boulder hanging over a house.

The writing itself is beautiful. Owens is a biologist herself, and her ability to draw us into the life of the marsh is powerful. Kya learns about the ways of the world from her observations of the natural life around her and makes frequent comparisons with the ways of humans as she learns about them. But this is contrasted by Kya’s experience of abandonment, first by her family, and secondly by other men in her life. The marsh and the ocean, and especially the birds which inhabit them, seem like the most important constants for her and the only things which can compensate for her deep loneliness.

While I was in many ways mesmerized by this book, I don’t think the author gave us enough detail for us to believe how Kya was able to survive on her own as a young child. And I don’t think the author thought through the murder investigation very well. Even with those misgivings, I enjoyed the book very much.

Good book, well-written. Author is at her best in the descriptions of nature and the growing up life of “the marsh girl”, especially in the first 2/3 to 3/4 of the book. Was somewhat disappointed in the last part of the book, didn’t find the writing about the trial very engaging and the last bit just balled-up the rest of her life to put a conclusion on it.

Jun 22, 2020

Kya suffers a great deal of heartbreak, even from unexpected sources, but seems to have resigned herself to a way of life she believes is really her only true option. But, all of it is threatened when a body is found in the marsh, and Kya’s life is suddenly under a white-hot spotlight.

The author does a fantastic job with the ecological descriptions and drawing the reader into the beauty Kya sees in her environment. The rich characterizations, especially with Kya’s character study, is another area in which the book excels.

Jun 22, 2020

Worth your time. The location, flora & fauna was unique & one that I knew very little about. I highly recommend it.

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Jun 22, 2020

GreaterChicken thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Feb 04, 2020

ellysaurus thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

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
Jan 30, 2020

Tate’s father told him many times, “The definition of a real man is one who cries with shame, reads poetry with his heart, feels opera in his soul and does what’s necessary to defend a woman.”
Mabel to Kya:”Ya need some girlfriends hon, cause they’re forever. Without a vow, a clutch of women is the most tender, most tough place on earth”

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.


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