WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens | Book Club Discussion

Hey readers, I’m Abbe. – And I’m Jess – and
welcome to our discussion of our March book club pick. We are talking about
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens this month. It was so good we absolutely
loved it. Ok I’m just gonna say right now there’s gonna be spoilers galore in
this video so if you are one of the three people that have not yet read Where the
Crawdads Sang do not listen to this. Do not watch this video.
Yeah. Just… it’ll be here after you’ve read the book so come back and watch.
Read it then watch. So anyone who’s watching now we’re assuming has read it
and we’re gonna talk fully about all of the plot intricacies in this book because there
are so many. So Jess do you want to give us a little synopsis about, you
know, what this book is about so we can just jump into it from there. Yeah so
just a little refresher, Where the Crawdads Sing follows Kya Clark who is
also known as the Marsh Girl and it takes place in a small coastal town in
North Carolina. Kya grew up on the marsh. Or in the marsh? On the marsh, I don’t
know and she grew up very isolated from
everyone else in the town and unfortunately her family wasn’t really
stable. Her mother left when she was really young and slowly her siblings
also did the same. Her father was an abusive alcoholic and this all shaped
her as she was growing up. And her isolation became even more key to her
survival. Yeah, so we follow Kya as a child and as an a young adult and we
kind of just see the way that her environment shapes who she becomes and
the people that come into her life while she she least expects it. So then
there is also a murder mystery embedded in this book.
Chase Andrews was once the best quarterback the town has ever seen.
Super popular, super good-looking. Handsome ladies man. You can picture him in your head. And he is found dead at the base of this fire tower and the sheriff believes
that there has been some foul play involved. And so intertwined in Kya’s
upbringing we flash forward to the future in 1969 and 1970 when this
investigation and trial is going on about who possibly could have murdered
Chase Andrews. – Who do they suspect Abbe? They suspect Kya Clark, the Marsh Girl, of
committing this murder. Now, we know spoiler, that Kya and Chase had a bit of
a romance. – Yes they did. So there were two main guys in Kya’s life. Tate, who is
in her life from a young age although they didn’t really talk when she was a
child. Their relationship really developed throughout the course of the
novel, but he was her first love. Yeah, he taught her to read, and they explored
the marsh together, and they loved the natural world, feathers, and stones, and
birds, so they really share that in common and then they come apart when
Tate goes off to college and really doesn’t stay in touch with Kya. And that
breaks Kya’s heart. And then Chase after a
while comes into her life. He’s very different than Tate he is more
abrasive. How would you describe him in relation to Tate. I would say he’s not as
sensitive, he’s more of a bro perhaps. “Let me show you how cool my boat is.” Yeah he’s got a speedboat, he doesn’t pay attention to sort of the finer
details of emotion or the world around him he’s got this like bravado this
puffed out chest where he does whatever he wants because he’s never been told
otherwise. And he doesn’t really respect Kya or women in general and he feels he’s very sketchy I don’t know, he doesn’t let Kya come into his life outside of the marsh he wants to
keep their relationship very contained to her house in the marsh and that’s it
and when she tries to expand, you know their relationship and put herself out
there cuz she’s not comfortable – being a side piece, in the marsh, kept, quiet. And he’s like no no let’s just keep it here. -Keep it on the DL. Don’t tell anyone that I’m dating you. So there’s these two central relationships in her life and she also becomes very close,
you know, she rides around the marsh in this little skiff boat that’s motor operated
and so she needs gas for the motor to continue her exploration and really
her lifestyle and so she goes to the little town wharf where there’s gasoline
that’s sold and other grocery items and really befriends this man named
Jumpin who runs the gas shack and he becomes almost like a father figure to
her. – Yeah she didn’t ever really have a good parental figure in her life and
Jumpin and Mabel, his wife really take on that role and from a
young age she starts going to them and they realize that something is
wrong and try to help her as best they can. They give her supplies, new clothes.
-I loved that friendship it felt very real and I think part of
the reason why they got along so well is because Jumpin and Mabel were also kind
of outcasts because of discrimination at that time, so I think that they both were
isolated and Kya gravitated towards them because of that. So we won’t maybe
go as far as spoiling the end, yet. Maybe at the end of
this video we’ll spoil the end of the book But that’s our sort of brief
winding synopsis so now let’s talk about just like our impressions of the
book, what we thought going in and what we felt about the book as it was
sadly over. Yeah I didn’t want this book to end. When I first started the book
I’ll be totally candid it took me a little bit to get into this book. I
was like, okay so there’s a lot of descriptions of the marsh, and I
needed a little bit of time to connect with Kya’s character. But then once I
did I could not put this book down I plowed through it and I had the whole
month to read it and obviously I left it until like the last two weeks or so
but I couldn’t put it down and I by the end of the novel, so it took me a while
to get into it but then by the end I felt like Kya was someone I knew, I felt
like the marsh was real, and I could just picture everything in my head
because Delia Owens was so descriptive in the way she talked about everything and I’m so glad it’s being made into a
movie. – I am too and I will also admit that sometimes when a book has a lot of
hype behind it I don’t believe the hype but in this case the hype is totally
warranted. – That’s true. So I dove into this book and it did, it took me a little
bit to get going but I really felt for Kya. My stumbling block at the beginning were sort of the accents and
the accented speech but once I started hearing the voices in my head, which
sounds weird but you guys know what I’m talking about, it was easier to sort of get into that North Carolina
Marsh dialect and I really felt for this girl I mean I can’t imagine being six
years old and being abandoned by my family, and you
know, steering a boat alone, figuring out how to make money.
She digs up muscles, sells them for money so she’s able to buy herself groceries,
she’s cooking her own meals, I mean this is like all of the things that I loved
about like Little House on the Prairie when I read them growing up. This
had those elements of survival just woven through them, and I certainly
did not want this book to end I was really crying at the end on the subway
which is my mark of a great read. So yeah I really wanted this
book to go on and on but I felt that it it ended in sort of the perfect place
and we have resolution. Yeah someone made a comment and said this book sings and I
loved that because it really does it stays with you and I will remember this
book I think for forever it’s one of those that just will stick with me no
matter how much time goes by Definitely. So one of the things I
absolutely loved about this book is the descriptions of the natural world So Delia Owens, this is her first foray
into fiction but she’s written a lot of nonfiction, and she herself grew
up near the Okefenokee Swamp so she has a bit of, you know she wanted to
set it in a place where she herself could envision. – Yeah she has a lot of
knowledge about marshes and like coastal communities and she herself spent a lot
of her life isolated in nature so that’s I think where a lot of this great
descriptive language is coming from. And there’s also a thread of solitude
and loneliness throughout this book and you know as the character Kya is —
you know she’s grown up alone she speaks to the seagulls
she doesn’t see many people yeah in the course of a day if not a week so she’s
used to being alone but there’s an amazing line in here that when she’s
waiting for the verdict she’s in jail she’s been accused of the murder of
Chase Andrews she’s awaiting the verdict and she says there’s no feeling of
loneliness like the one waiting for your murder conviction verdict, which you know
it just explores the depths of how alone and lonely we can feel, I think
that’s so beautifully done like a watercolor almost. -Speaking of
watercolor Kya paints she paints the things that she loves in nature and
throughout the book she documents her findings she loves like collecting like
shells and feathers and and all these sorts of cool things from the marsh and
she paints and I wish I could see them I try in my head and visualize but I
would love to see like a an edition of the book where they have these beautiful
paintings – That’s a great idea yeah she collects all of these things she’s so observant and finds the you
know the feather from the throat of the heron and she identify them and then she
paints them and so did you at all imagine what the Shack looked like inside?
Oh yeah yeah I mean I tried to it’s got a wood-burning stove, I
imagined it sort of like leaned to one side falling apart kind of, you don’t know
if it’s gonna collapse . — I know she’s got her specimens –I yeah I just
pictured like every surface pinned up on walls along with her gorgeously detailed
paintings, and so when she befriends Tate her first love f he’s
teaching her how to read and and she finally invites someone into her sort of
inner sanctum inside the shack and he sees her
paintings and her feathers and her specimens and he remarks saying like “this
is incredible work you should send this away to a publisher,” and she indeed gets
published and begins to write several books that detail the
beauty and the vast sort of biological detail that are found in these marshes. -She becomes a very successful author, published author, but without any
formal education and so like I think that one of the questions you could ask
is how important was a formal education to Kya did she need it did she make the
right choice in not going to school yeah because she went to school for one
day, this was when she was very young, the social workers came
and were like “You need to go to school” and so she went to school for one
day and immediately was outcast by everyone. She was not able
to find any friends and she decided, you know what, this sucks and this
isn’t for me because no one will ever– I think she felt like no one will ever
accept me, in that one day she felt like her whole life would be this way and
decided “If I can avoid at least this part of it then maybe that’s the best
thing.” And some of you we asked this question in our Facebook group and some
of you responded– Brenda Dixon Dunlap said that you know she thought that Kya
didn’t need a formal education that she was smarter than all of them including
eventually the jury at the end. Dena Brower says you know she didn’t
need an education to have a good life you know that had she stuck with school
her life would have been very different but not necessarily better, and you and I
were talking before and I was saying that in some ways maybe sticking with
school she would have for better for worse assimilated with
the village a little bit earlier, they would have had time to sort of get to
know who this Marsh girl was, she would have been seen every day and so would
have been less of sort of this mysterious figure that they sort of
sometimes see out in the water or sometimes very few times in town. So in
some ways that could have been a service to herself where she just
assimilates more with the townspeople but she made the choice for herself and
unfortunately she had to make that choice herself, she was a child with no
parental guidance and you know a six year old going to school being bullied
for who she is of course you’re not gonna want to go back I definitely had
times with you know when I was a kid and not ,
fitting in, my parents were like but you’re going anyway. She didn’t have
that and and that was her choice and that’s the best decision she could have
made at that time and then from there she was on her own. I love Rona
Compton’s assessment that says if she had made one female friend her life
could have been totally different and that’s so interesting to speculate you
know like she had connections with men who were yeah around her own age but you
know what if she had a female friend that that’s so interesting Rona. I like
they that’s where your mind went yeah and Delia Owens actually touched a
little bit on that in this interview that we have here. She based a lot of her
novel on things that she’s observed in nature so she’s looked at a lot of
groups of mammals and kind of observed what they do and and why they do it and
she noticed that a lot of females tend to group together and the male’s jump
around from one group to another looking for females to mate with but the females
horde together and stick together and there’s this kind of sisterhood between
them so she made that connection between animals and people but
there’s also a lot of competition competition in these groups so it’s not
all like sunshine and rainbows in the animal world or in the world of people
and she says that Kya was denied this opportunity to band with a group of
females her age which is something that will change the way that you see the
world, and yeah so she didn’t have any strong female friendships and I think
that really affected her. I mean we get to see the sisterhood of like always
wears pearls and ponytail freckle-faced those are her nicknames for her peers in
her class who she sees you know sort of grouped about in the town and these
girls are cruel to her they gossip about her and so it’s interesting the sort of —
there is some sisterhood portrayed bu she’s not a part of it. And
I love the way I love those nicknames because she observes them and in the
same way that she observes nature natural world she’s like this is short
black hair always wear wears pearls and she watches them from afar and that’s
kind of how she observes everyone that she doesn’t come into contact with and
she makes mental notes as if she’s as if they’re you know birds or something she
finds in nature. And later when she goes on a date with Chase she wants to
sort of appear like the other girls and so has remembered what they wear to a
picnic on the beach and so she sort of imitates that. So
how do you think Kya’s observations of nature really shaped her vision of the
world, like do you think do you think our world the human world mimics the natural
world or do you think there’s some division of the two. -I think that her
observations really gave her the ability to look at things in a more detailed way
than most people do and look at things and
appreciate the small things that a lot of people just overlook. I don’t know if
I think that nature totally mimics society I think there are similarities
like we were talking about before with like the female groups and things like
that but I think that that also changes based on where you are, and where she was
I think it complicated things. What do you think? Yeah I mean I think you
know the natural world has a sense of order and you know sort of checks and
balances almost that sometimes the human world with our prejudice our money and
our justice system we rearrange those facts you know I think in the natural
world there is sort of a matrilineal respect you know that females since they
create young and birth them and take care of their babies that their sort of
respect for that you know often in lions the females will be the hunters and
they’ll go off to provide for their families and you know the the men will
stay home with the baby so I think you know our world our human world has been
rearranged according to sort of the agendas of a few people in charge yeah
and in the natural world really it’s it’s all based on survival. -Power and
like privilege isn’t based on things that make sense, so Kaya so smart she she can survive on her own she’s amazing and in
so many ways but yet she’s just ostracized constantly and and in the
natural world I feel like you take any other animal or any other being that’s
as skilled and smart as she is and they would obviously come out on top yeah but
she doesn’t yeah one of the things I loved in this book
and I really want to hear from some of you is the presence of poetry. We’ve got
Tate’s father who loves poetry he tells his son you know poems are important
because they make you feel something. Was that your southern accent? And then
throughout as Kya becomes sort of a young adult she has an
appreciation for poetry and throughout this book you know I would turn a page
and see oh there’s a poem coming and she often thinks of these poems you know
which sort of address a situation that she’s in.
I loved her introduction to poetry when she first learned that they can rhyme
and and be fun and she just went around the marsh making up like poems in her
head and and was having fun with it and just it was a way for her to express
herself mhm and it’s just her passion for it grew and grew and eventually
turned into her actually writing incredible incredible poems. It was just
really cool to see that transformation You know just it’s so
beautiful how language, once she has once she possesses the knowledge of language
and the ability to sort of shape her own thinking it takes off and you know she
she becomes one of the most well respected scientists in all the marsh
without a formal education and a skilled poet without any formal education so
really it’s just so beautiful that she just grasps that and runs with it. I
think that this book demonstrates the power of reading and language because
that changes Kya’s life yeah when Tate starts
teaching her words and and the alphabet and and how you put them together to
make these beautiful things her life totally totally changes. So
let’s talk a little bit about the marsh versus the town,
and this North Carolina Marsh you know Kya lives in it or on it as we were
talking and so I wanted to talk about how the setting really shapes
the novel and also you know how her status as an outsider you know how does
that change how others see her and you know when she comes into the town. -So I
think that the marsh is like a physical representation of her isolation if she
lived in another place in the town that was maybe more accessible I feel like
things would have been very different but as a lot of you also said the
setting the marsh is a physical boundary it’s it really is a dividing line
between her and the rest of the people so I think that it was key in just
shaping the the tone of the novel the way that Kya’s life was going to go so
yeah Christi says the setting for the novel makes a very physical example of
the line between the accepted and society and those that are different. We see a lot of the same comments that the marsh is a physical boundary which
is really what I was thinking as well and as she grows more isolated from the
people that are outside the marsh she really clings to the marsh even more
mm-hmm and it becomes kind of a parent figure
in her life as well yeah which is really interesting and she’s such an expert in
her surroundings and you know these townspeople that live right next to this
marsh they have no idea the multitudes that it contains and you know developers
are eager to pave over it, drain it yeah and they have no idea about the
complex ecosystems that exist there so in this world she is the expert the sort
of king of of the marsh and the townspeople
really have no clue they have no clue and and they since they don’t understand —
people like to point out what they don’t understand and and be like that’s
different that’s weird and and I think that’s why Kya you know her being in
the marsh in a place that people don’t understand immediately branded her as an
outsider and then when they got to see that she was so different in the way
that she saw the world she was even more of an outsider and then it just won’t
change once you know I feel like once someone is branded that way kind of
stays that way for a long time. So let’s touch briefly on the justice
system in this book you know Kya was first of all I think the sheriff should
be fired oh my god he was terrible so awful really bad at putting together
his evidence he arrests and jails Kya way before he’s got he’s got no proof
that he’s got no proof she was the murderer and yeah keep her in jail until
the trial yeah it was unreal I was that trial man that was stressful I was like
biting my nails the whole time yeah I didn’t know I didn’t know what the
outcome would be you know I thought that either
it would just be she’s guilty and the town once again lets her down and it
wouldn’t be a surprise to me that was one possibility one possibility and then
the other one where she would finally be not guilty is like okay you know
redemption for the townspeople and they’re finally seeing her as as more
than just this Marsh girl outsider but I didn’t know which way it was gonna go
though I was very it was very up in the air for me. There were times when I
thought that maybe she did do it there were times when I thought maybe Tate did
it. – Tate was my number one suspect I will say is he loves her and he knows
that she’s been treated badly by this quarterback bro jerk and I could see
him exacting revenge but he’s also so sweet that I didn’t didn’t know if he
was capable of that yeah and really like you find out who actually
did it in the last two pages yeah and I just don’t I can’t say it I feel I feel
like we should just if you know who did it glaze over that — she’s found not
guilty we can say that yes Kya is found not guilty and and you’re so relieved – she could not spend the rest of her life in jail she’s that’s what’s killing
her when she’s jailed she can’t be in the place that she loves the most the
marsh she misses it so much when she’s finally released when they find her not
guilty I — the end of the chapter is like I felt sea breeze on my face for the
first time in months and you’re just like yeah she’s out she’s free thank God.
So if you know who did it let us know like were you surprised -I just can’t I
can’t spoil it I can’t – I was shocked we won’t talk about it further
but I was shocked but in a way I was – Do you think justice was served? I think
justice was served I think it was yeah yeah so do we have anything else this
book it contains multitude I could go on for literal days about this book.
But we want to hear from you so leave us some comments about what you thought if
you disagree with anything we said, we want to know we want to chat about it -It’s totally fine to disagree just know that we’re right no seriously
so we want to hear from you let us know in comments below what you thought of
the book what you think about any of these questions we just mentioned we
want to hear from you and read along with you and thank you for reading
this with us I know we’re so happy to see that you were also thrilled
with this choice yeah and pretty soon we’ll be announcing our April book club
pick so stay tuned for that as well Bye!


I haven't read it but I am always looking for books for my book group. You have done a great job explaining the book and Amazon is sure pushing it on my emails. It would be hard to guess who did the murder because you mentioned so few characters. You only mentioned the husband and wife gas shack owners and the sheriff and the long gone family. I used to teach k-8 home study art so I worked with many of the students who were considered outcasts by other students and some kids really surprised our team when they eventually wanted to join regular school and found a way to finally fit in. In home school they had several years to create who they were and gained confidence in that. Also, home school had everyone together once a week for a day of group activities where if a child had a skill we would spotlight that skill for an hour or so, such as cooking or sports. If a child wanted, they got to show off what they loved doing. Great book. Thanks

I hated the way it ended. The ending destroyed the entire rest of the book which I had loved more each chapter. It destroyed this book. Uh. Hated it. lol

This book was so good! I loved the ending. I heard an interview with the author and she said she left clues throughout the book but you really only understand them on the second reading. I listened to this on audible and narrator was incredible.

I,m a 64 year old male and I loved the book. I felt like I was along for the whole adventure. I really enjoyed watching Abbe and Jess discussing the book for the past half hour, and I loved their emotions. Great job ladies..

Thought the book was fantastic, and the way it ended couldn't have been done better. It's a morally ambiguous end to a story that made you feel such a full range emotions from bliss to downright dread. A part of you, the reader, want to change Kya's final decision, but it's impossible.

I finished this book on the Subway ride home tonight. I wanted to sob my heart out, but it was my stop so I had to pull it together and make it to the exit. I did not want this book to end, and am thrilled to learn it will be a movie. Although, I may be sitting in theatre sobbing, with tears streaming down my neck. Great review! Beautiful book.

I really started to worry when the book kept giving examples of female creatures killing off males.
I think it just really bothers me the fact that she read so much and loved poetry yet still acted out what she saw in nature. It gave me really mixed feelings about the book and especially the ending

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