This Where the Crawdads Sing review gives you the details of this superbly bestselling Reese's book club pick, including a review, quotes, and discussion questions for your book club. And because this is a book pairings blog “where books meet lifestyle,” I have also provided some recommended pairings for further learning.
Where the Crawdads Sing Review + Book Quotes
- #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING PHENOMENON
- More than 10 million copies sold worldwide
- A Business Insider Defining Book of the Decade
Kya remembered Ma always encouraging her to explore the marsh: 'Go as far as you can --- way out yonder where the crawdads sing.' Tate said, 'Just means far in the bush where critters are wild, still behaving like critters.'
Love. Murder. Survival. Coming of age. Nature versus nurture. Southern culture. Where the Crawdads Sing has it all, and this one has been a bestseller FOREVER at this point! I'm pretty sure this Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick is her most popular one to date. The South comes alive in this tale of Kya, otherwise known as the "Marsh Girl," who was abandoned in 1952 at age six and raised herself in the marshes of North Carolina, with only one day of formal education. Kya realizes that "the marsh became her mother" and, indeed, the writing of the marsh is so vivid that it is truly a main character in this book:
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.
In the words of James Taylor, "I'm gone to Carolina in my mind."
Kya is an enigma to most of the nearby townsfolk but makes friends with a few locals over the years, including Tate, a young man who teaches her to read, Jumpin and Mabel, a couple that owns a bait and gas shop and protects her, and Chase, a handsome teen. Early on we learn that Chase is found dead in 1969. Murder is suspected and Kya quickly becomes a suspect. As the story jumps back and forth in time, we learn what really occurred between Kya and Chase.
This story was intriguing, unique, poetically written, and highly rated. That being said, I found a few plot points to be improbable. Without saying too much about what happens, I found it difficult to believe that Kya could mature in certain ways in her professional life as well as evolve in certain relationships, having raised herself in the marsh with no formal education and minimal social interactions. However, I seem to be in the minority in this thinking, and author Delia Owens describes Kya's struggles this way:
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.
I listened to Where the Crawdads Sing on Audible, and the narration was one of the better ones I have listened to, with varying Southern voices and accents to distinguish the characters.
Where the Crawdads Sing Book Club Questions
Below are 15 unique discussion questions for your book club:
What genre would you categorize this books as (romance, coming of age, mystery, etc.)?
Discuss the importance of the setting in this book.
Did this book live up to the hype for you?
Discuss the difference between nature and nurture in this book.
What characteristics drew Kya, Tate, Mabel and Jumpin together?
Did you find the plot line to be believable?
How may the story have differed if Kya stayed in school?
What is the importance of poetry in this book?
What role does race play in this book?
What does womanhood mean to Kya?
How are Chase and Tate similar and different?
What did Tate see in Kya that attracted him to her?
Were you surprised by the ending?
Did your opinion of Kya change throughout the story?
Would you have survived if you were in Kya's shoes?
For even more Where the Crawdads Sing book club questions:
For more like Where the Crawdads Sing:
- Host a Where the Crawdads Sing book club with these fun ideas.
- Check out more of Reese Witherspoon's book club picks (this list includes my personal recommendations.
- Read more popular emotional modern fiction with a Southern setting and characters, such as Before We Were Yours.
- Read The Snow Child, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and Winter themed book set in Alaska that totally reminded me of Crawdads.