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Where the Crawdads Sing
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Catherine | 1162 comments This discussion is for the September 2019 Modern Classic/Popular group read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

*SPOILERS THREAD* This discussion will be full of spoilers.

If you haven't read the book already and don't want to spoil the ending, hop on over to the SPOILER FREE DISCUSSION.

What did you think of the read? Would you read again or recommend it to a friend? What surprised you the most or was it what you expected?

Jennifer Cunningham | 14 comments I’ve already recommended this to a few friends. I will probably read this one again for the dialogue, poetic prose, and vivid natural imagery more than anything, but I loved this story. And, I really enjoyed its colloquial feel. The plot developed as I expected in most ways but there were definitely some surprises — like the at-first awkward Kya’s reconnection with her brother was and that no one else in her family seemed to care, even as adults. I was pleasantly surprised at her level of independence, especially her resourcefulness at claiming her land and the foresight and degree of planning she put into demise of Chase Andrews. I think her fortitude and desire to take care of herself is inspiring. If interested, here is the review I wrote when I finished:


message 3: by NancyJ (last edited Sep 02, 2019 03:53PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) I loved this book. The hardest thing for me to understand in the beginning, is how a mother could leave her children (other than for brain altering reasons like drugs or serious illness.) Kya spends her whole life trying to understand that herself. It drives her to learn more about biology and find examples from other animal species. Now that I've read the book I can understand it a little more, but it's sad that so few people reached out to help her.

I also wondered why the older siblings didn't help the younger ones more, but I guess it was hard enough to just survive themselves. I was thinking about the book with Before We Were Yours which took place in the 1940's I think. The kids were stolen from their parents, and the oldest girl did everything she could to find her siblings.

I was too "frugal" to buy the book for myself (and waited for months for a library copy), but I already bought a copy to give to my niece. So, yes I would recommend it to others.

message 4: by Laura H (last edited Sep 06, 2019 06:37PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura H (laurah30) | 537 comments Just finished this book and enjoyed it. The author did a great job of helping us see how people discriminate against one another. The plot kept me guessing - I was thinking that maybe Tate was the one who murdered Chase - but it made more sense that Kya did. She didn't need anyone else to save her - she was quite capable of dealing with things on her own.

message 5: by NancyJ (last edited Sep 10, 2019 02:01AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) I laughed when she described the biology journal article about "sneaky fuckers." I looked it up and it's a pretty well known phenomenon in evolutionary biology. The males of many species, including bugs, fish, animals, have a strong drive to make sure that they father as many offspring as they can. Some males fight to be the dominate male in a group to gain the right to mate with the females, but some less dominant males find sneaky ways to get in their first.

I read another book recently about a woman who discovered her biological father was a sperm donor. People often wonder why smart medical students would be willing to put their stuff in a cup and donate it to a perfect strangers or in some cases 100 strangers. There were two doctors who fraudulently used their own sperm instead of the woman's husband or a donor. A doctor tried to do this in The Handmaid's Tale.

Jennifer Cunningham | 14 comments That was funny.

NancyJ (nancyjjj) Do you all think it was realistic that the whole town knew she was there but no one else tried to help her? Granted, she was good at running away when anyone came close.

Jennifer Cunningham | 14 comments I did think it was ridiculous while she was a small child.

Renee (elenarenee) I don't find it at all ridiculous. You see it everyday. Ask anyone who has worked in Social Services. People are so quick to judge. If they feel someone is different they just look the other way.

A women came to my practice. She had a neighbor with 9 children. She was placed on home bed rest. I went to do a home exam. The children next door were very malnourished. They were home from school every time my staff or I went to care for our patient. One of my Pct asked the client about this. She said to pay them no mind they were ( I will not repeat the word she used). We called social service and mercifully the kids were removed from the home.

This was in an upper middle class neighborhood. The family had money. The neighbors just ignored it because the family was different from them. People ignore these things all the time Sometimes it is because of prejudice Other time they just don't care.

Things like that combined with poor health are what made me stop practicing and go into teaching.

Satrina T | 333 comments I really enjoyed the book.

I agree with NancyJ, I found it really difficult to understand a mother abandoning her children. Of course by the end of the book it was a little more understandable but I still struggle with the notion since I just couldn't do that to my son but obviously, my circumstances are very different.

My favorite character was Jumpin' for his kindness.

For a while I also thought Tate was the murderer.

message 11: by Jess (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jess | 2 comments I agree, I thought jumpin’ was the murderer as well... I went back and forth between thinking it was him, Tate, or chase’s wife... as soon as the court scenes drug out though I knew it couldn’t have been jumpin’ or Tate, as they’d never let Kya go through that...being locked up, away from her beloved marsh for so long... did anyone foresee the ending?

I loved kya’s take on people... I think it would probably take an outsider to notice the things about human nature that she did.. interesting that she is portrayed in such contrasting ways.. delicate/strong, naive/wise, and that only the ones close to her see her depth and value.. makes you think twice about pre conceived notions we have.

Also, that she still was willing to give people 2nd and 3rd chances when some people didn’t even give her a 1st chance. But the ones who did really see her were the ones worth more than all the others combined, she was lucky in that way to find real-ness...

NancyJ (nancyjjj) Jess wrote: "I agree, I thought jumpin’ was the murderer as well... I went back and forth between thinking it was him, Tate, or chase’s wife... as soon as the court scenes drug out though I knew it couldn’t hav..."

I agree about her take on people. She was a scientist who knew a lot about behaviors seen in both animals and people, and as an outsider she might observe little things we wouldn't.

I think everyone has many sides to them, and the author did a fabulous job showing the complexity of Kya. People sometimes ask, what is more important to you, the writing or the story. For me it's also the characters.

I had a hard time thinking that she did it, but then I thought about what a persistent threat he was to her. She was constantly afraid, never knowing when he might show up. She was brought up in nature where life and death were natural and inevitable, not evil.

I was impressed when she didn't take Tate back right away, even though we knew he was probably worth it. Many women with low self esteem would take him back in a second, no matter how much he hurt her. It was partly fear of course, but I still admired her strength and sense of self-worth, and I think he did too. I really loved how they carved out a life and careers that were perfect for them. In some ways, they were a lot like the author and her husband.

message 13: by Nico (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nico (nicoreads) | 28 comments I loved this book. I felt such an affinity with Kya. I was such a wild child growing up. Always outside, making forts out of deadwood on the forest floor and admiring woodpeckers and even ants as they journeyed.

I agree with Renee, as horrible as it is, this book's representation of neglect and others turning a willful eye away from neglect, abandonment, and even child abuse is accurate. I saw examples of it as a child myself, the horrible conditions some of my classmates endured as "normal."

My only criticism was with Kya's absolute fear, I suppose. I struggle with reading about characters who are TOO consistent--especially if it's to their own detriment. I don't think anyone is nearly that consistent. We're contrary. Even those of us who refuse to be vulnerable like Kya did are vulnerable quite often (usually against our own control or will).

Kristina (kristinaiam) | 3 comments I really enjoyed this book. I found it addressed some big issues without being controversial about it. The more I thought about the undertones the more I felt connected to this beautiful writing.

NancyJ (nancyjjj) Nico wrote: "I loved this book. I felt such an affinity with Kya. I was such a wild child growing up. Always outside, making forts out of deadwood on the forest floor and admiring woodpeckers and even ants as t..."

That's funny. I was always barefoot as a kid, climbing trees, dancing, and playing in puddles. I wonder now what happened to that kid. It's funny what you said about fear. I saw her fear at times, but I also saw her as extremely brave, because she did a lot of thing that would scare me. She avoided people, but I don't think she felt fearful most of the time, especially as an adult. It was worse as a child, and then again with her rapist.

Stacey Am I the only person who did not like this book? When I finished I was offended by how bad it was.

I know it is fiction, but I just found it so hard to believe.

The fact that Tate teaches Kya how to read is fine, but then suddenly she can understand and interpret biology textbooks? Also, as an 18-19 year old hormonal male he is the one who refuses her advances?

Many other scenarios in the book seemed equally implausable.

For instance: " Chase's birthday was in two days, and she was headed to the Piggly to buy ingredients for a special supper - featuring her first caramel cake". This is when she is supposedly selling mussels to Jumpin' to scrape together enough money to buy gas for her boat and grits? Also, if she has no electricity how is she baking a cake in an oven?

Another example: "She called the gulls and flung large bits of French bread into the air". I'm sorry I thought she was poor and starving, yet she is okay with wasting bread to feed gulls?

Probably the most incredulous scenario is when she hires a fix it man to put in running water, a water heater, full bathroom with claw foot tub, a sink in a cabinet with tiles, flush toilet, electricity, new range and refrigerator. She also buys a new front door, a new porch screen, shelves, sofa, chairs, beds, mattresses and rugs yet only spends $2000.00? Also, she has no phone and little contact with people in town so how does she even find such a repairman?

I did not care for the dialogue, yes I understand it is set in the south, but sentences like "Sho'do. Tacked up right on the wall, left a' the doh. Hep yurself" just seem so over the top and unnecessary to convey meaning.

I was not surprised at any point in this book. Towards the end I was waiting for the author to reveal how Kya lured Chase to the tower, but was disappointed this was left out. I was at least glad the author did resolve the issue of the shell necklace to give me some sense of closure.

I would not recommend this book to anyone.

Brooklyn (brooklynjoe) | 18 comments I just finished the book. I really enjoyed it - and am sure it will be considered classic one day like to kill a mockingbird (its cousin novel). I didn't want to like it , especially as the beginning was slow and something i've seen before often. But as her unique character developed the story drew me in and touched me. I gave it a 4-4.5 as I hated the folksy dialect (especially for the African American characters and all the southerners) - and also after reading more about the author and HER involvement in a poacher's murder in Africa (and her subsequent banning from return to Zambia) - like Out of Africa which I also loved - I found the author had a paternalistic attitude towards her characters that was subtle but there. So all that being said - I found this also a charming first novel with flaws and depths that you don't find in more polished works but that make it even more endearing. KYA's development is believable and extremely touching and humane.

Nelson R. | 26 comments I just finish this book and i was surprise in the last pages of this book, my mouth drop while reading in the end. I like the tense of the courtroom, my heart was pounding when reading those chapters.

Natty S (cindyneal) | 18 comments I can see why a lot of people really got into this book. We all feel lonely and isolated to a greater or lesser extent. We're all terrified of abandonment and being looked down upon because of our socio-economic status (or have experienced these to a greater or lesser extent). And as women we have to deal with male entitlement to our sexuality all the time.

But like Stacey above (is it possible to @ a person on GR?), I found the book increasingly problematic as it went along with cardboard and even racially problematic characters (Kya aside), bad dialogue, cringe-worthy melodrama (particularly the trial), and an ending that the author had already shown to be implausible.

Like Renee, I agree that it would be easy for someone like Kya to fall through the cracks (btw, as a housebound person I just have to say good on you for making housecalls; I'm so appreciative of my own PCP who does). That said, I did NOT find it plausible that the grandparents would not have gotten in a car to see what the hell was up with their grandkids, especially given the state in which their daughter arrives.

At any rate, I wrote in more detail about the problems with this novel here if you don't already think I'm a whiny bitch about the book - lol!

Renata (renatag) | 674 comments Mod
Generally loved this book. Cried when Kya died, but written in such a no-nonsense way, almost underwhelming. In fact, the after-trial years are so rushed, almost like the author needed to "wrap it up" to meet a publishing deadline.

Madeline Jess wrote: "I agree, I thought jumpin’ was the murderer as well... I went back and forth between thinking it was him, Tate, or chase’s wife... as soon as the court scenes drug out though I knew it couldn’t hav..."

I too thought it was going to be Tate or Jumpin. I also thought it might have been her brother trying for some kind of redemption. I thought the twist that one of them did and knew that in the end they would never actually convict Kya.

I almost didn't finish this book. I was so sad and upset for like the first 150 pages, who wants to read about a forgotten child for entertainment?

I honestly still don't know how I feel about this book. I'm glad i pushed through the beginning because I did find her an interesting protagonist. But when I finished I was glad I was done. After I've finished most books, I feel a certain kind of loss for being finished with the characters.

Currently I'm reading All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, and I find this character to be a much more believable "abandoned child". It's actually funny how similar the two characters are. They each come unfit parents, both face a certain type of abandonment, and they both are highly observant of their "natural surroundings".

I would still recommend giving this a read, and I do agree with Brooklyn (above) that this will be considered a classic one day.

message 22: by Shelley (last edited Sep 28, 2019 07:05AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shelley | 98 comments I thought this was a beautifully written tragic story. At times I wondered if some of the things that happened were possible, but in the end, I felt most were. Some of the details were left out (like how she found a fix it man willing to work for her or how she learned to cook or read so well), but there are things that happened prior to the things I questioned that suggested these things were plausible. For one thing, she had 24 hours per day to focus on whatever she wanted. She was also intelligent, highly observant, and determined to get by.

I didn't want Kya to be the murderer (or more accurately, I didn't want to see her spend the rest of her life in jail); but to me, that was the only fitting ending. I hated that Tate figured it out, though.

message 23: by Lory (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lory Sakay | 7 comments Stacey wrote: "Am I the only person who did not like this book? When I finished I was offended by how bad it was.

I know it is fiction, but I just found it so hard to believe.
I wholeheartedly agree with you...as would most of my book club members. I'm still stumped to see it continues to receive such rave reviews. I'm interested in reading a new book, Tenderland, but it is being compared to Crawdads which is making me cringe a bit. :)

The fact that Tate teaches Kya ho..."

message 24: by Lory (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lory Sakay | 7 comments Natty wrote: "I can see why a lot of people really got into this book. We all feel lonely and isolated to a greater or lesser extent. We're all terrified of abandonment and being looked down upon because of our ..."

I may join your "whiny bitch" status...due to my reaction every time someone mentions this book in front of me. lol. I've somehow seemed to like it less than I did when I actually read it. lol

Mandy | 11 comments I meant to join this thread earlier, considering I read this book over summer. I really enjoyed reading this book which surprised me at first. I assumed it would be overhyped but underwhelming to read but I immediately wanted to know what happened once I started reading. My favorite parts would be the descriptions of the landscapes and Kya's comfort in the land around her. The unknown of nature at night became something beautiful rather than something to fear.

I understand why people question the plausibility of some of the events and I agree to an extent. Her leap in abilities is not completely impossible but it did come across as surprising. Considering how much time she had I think anyone with determination can learn a lot.

The tension between Tate and Kya through out the entire story drove me crazy. The way they avoided each other directly but kept an eye on one another felt so drawn out, I just wanted them to make up their mind. The age difference made me feel a little weird, which Tate brought up, but it was hard not to root for them. Tate is probably my favorite character. He has such a kind and gentle soul, it's nice to see more characters like him instead of only male characters like Chase.

I also agree that the courtroom scenes felt like a quick wrap up of the story. The way it played out caught me off guard at first then I was relieved when it was over. The last few pages were a shock to me. I feel like I should have seen it coming but I was totally oblivious. I wasn't entirely surprised she killed Chase since that made the most sense. The poems being hers made sense once I found out but I spent the entire novel trying to figure out how they were connected to her. They were relevant to what was happening to her in the chapters but I thought it was a third person perspective instead of her narrating her own story through her writing. Should have noticed that sooner.

Overall I love this book and it made me excited to get back into reading. I don't think I have finished a book as quickly as this one in years.

Jennifer Cunningham | 14 comments The above is a little interview with the author.

message 28: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue I started a bit late on this book, but finished today and I loved it.

I too was wondering how a 6 year old girl could take care of herself, but I recall the things I did at 6, and it's not that much of a stretch to see what Kya did. I was sent to the store alone to pick up an item or two for my Mom. I was able to make some simple foods, including things that needed to be cooked (no microwaves back then!)

I understood money and how to count and make change, which Kya didn't know at first.

At the same time, how awful to be abandoned. I think that alone would destroy any kid. And in her same situation, I would have run toward the truant officers to ask for help.

I loved watching how the story played out. I should have guessed that Kya was the murderer, but it was still a surprise to me. I didn't think Jumpin' or Tate had done it, since I don't think they would have sat silent during the trial. I think I didn't want it to be Kya, and I really didn't want to see her sent to prison!

I love participating in this group for books like this. So many books get great hype, but it's nice to go back and pick up the books that are still getting good reviews after the initial dust settles.

Penelope | 17 comments One thing that bothered me was that there was no resolution about her father. He just disappeared one day and even her brother didn’t seem to know what had happened to him.

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I loved this book. It just sucked me in. I especially liked her interactions with the African-Americans and how it turned out later some of the townspeople had helped her all along.

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