Where the Crawdads Sing




Barkley Cove, a little village on the coast of North Carolina, has been plagued by tales of the "Marsh Girl" for years. Thus, when attractive Chase Andrews is discovered murdered in late 1969, Kya Clark, the rumoured Marsh Girl, is quickly suspected by the townsfolk.

Kya, however, is not who they claim. She has spent years surviving alone in the marsh she calls home. Sensitive and intelligent, she has found companions in the gulls and lessons in the sand. However the story really begins when Kya opens herself up to a new life when two young men from the town are drawn to her wild beauty. This is a story written in dual timelines between Kya’s past and her present.



It is a lovely book, but I don’t think it has particularly pushed the boundaries or inspired extreme emotion. Ultimately, it shines a light on humanity’s ability to act sick towards each other, and the repercussions that that trauma has on especially children.

Kya, our MC, was abandoned in the marshes by her family. Shunned by the city folk, she learned to survive on her own. But in the present timeline, she is suspected of murdering the heartthrob Chase Andrews.

It was very enjoyable, with the dual timelines of past Kya and the present Kya awaiting trial. I loved the vivid imagery and language used to describe the marshes. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the detail Owens put into describing the surrounding nature. It paints a wonderfully precise picture of how Kya lived and got around, which makes sense that this book is being made as a film. 

She finds so much joy in the little things and is so in tune with nature. I liked having this intimate look into Kya’s life, the way she tries to problem solve, and how she survives in the wilderness alone. However, sometimes it was hard to believe Kya had so much emotional and social intelligence for someone who was essentially a wild child alone in the marshes.

But what really made the book was her loneliness. It was profound and felt suffocating. She was abandoned by everyone she knew and yet you can tell how desperately she wished she was loved. She wrestles with her desire to be loved and her deep distrust of others rooted by the abandonment of her own family. The city is not accepting of her and immediately decides to push blame on this ‘outsider’ when a foul deed occurs. I like that these prejudices are shown-giving some social commentary on classism.

This story is a slow-paced, slice-of-life that is still interesting. I was not really all that invested in the dual timeline where she is awaiting her trial for the murder of Chase, but I guess it was needed to create some sort of suspense. I do feel it's a little jarring reading between the past and present- and that I would much rather read Kya’s journey growing up and old than this lackluster murder mystery. (I’m aware this is an unpopular opinion!)

I’m also on the fence about the way the Black characters were portrayed. It almost felt like they were caricatures and was a little uncomfortable for me to read.

The ending was a really enjoyable ending to the whole story! I figured out the twist pretty early, but it was still fun to see how Owens unraveled it in the ending!

Would highly recommend it for people who enjoyed books such as Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver and The Overstory by Richard Powers.

Book Details

Published: 14 August 2018
Page Count: 370 pages


Content Warning Summary

  • Abandonment
  • Domestic abuse
  • Sexual assault