Book Review: “Where The Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

where the crawdads

Is there any book within the last 3 years that has spent as much time on the NY Times bestseller list as Where The Crawdads Sing? Every time I’ve checked the list recently, Where The Crawdads sing is high up on it, even though it was published 2 years ago in 2018. A book this popular and beloved definitely piques the interest, so now I have finally taken the time to read and review it.

Where The Crawdads Sing is the story of Kya, a woman who has survived alone for most of her life in the North Carolina marsh.

Before you read further: I did not like this book, but I am in the minority of readers here. All of my library coworkers who read this book loved it.

Mild spoilers ahead.


What Where The Crawdads Sing gets right: This is a book about a central character, Kya, and her growth and development as a lonely, intelligent, nature-loving woman. After years of abuse and neglect from her family, Kya learns how to survive alone in the marsh without much help or compassion from the nearby townspeople. She is a sympathetic character that just makes you wonder: what were all of the adults doing in this town, letting a child fend for herself in the wilderness? Why didn’t anyone try harder to help? She does have some help from Jumpin’ and his wife, but I understand that their help had to be limited as they faced discrimination and racism. So where were the other people, who had nothing to worry about by helping an impoverished, abandoned child?

What Where The Crawdads Sing gets wrong: I hated the grammar and writing style in this book. There are tons of sentences that are technically run-ons; most of them are like this:

Pa’s overalls were so heavy wet she couldn’t wring them out with her tiny hands, and couldn’t reach the line to hang them, so draped them sopping over the palmetto fronds at the edge of the woods.


By late afternoon she was very hungry, so went back to the shack.


It should be “so she draped them” and “so she went back to the shack.” Otherwise it’s a run-on that’s confusing to read. There’s also a sentence that refers to the Andrews family as the “Andrewses.” It made me physically cringe. Delia Owens continues with this kind of writing throughout the book, and honestly it drove me crazy. I understand that maybe she was trying to make her writing voice similar to that of Kya, but it just didn’t click.

Here is a great review that doesn’t address the grammar but does point out some contextual flaws with the book.

And one last thing: the romances, if you can call them that, fell very, very flat. The men that Kya gets involved with treat her terribly. I would have loved to see Kya developing other relationships- like friendships- instead of these toxic ones.

Who should read  Where The Crawdads Sing: Readers who enjoy historical fiction and nature writing, and who can overlook the inconsistent writing and dialogue.

Who shouldn’t Where The Crawdads Sing: Readers who want believable dialogue and character development. Readers who are also editors and will be itching to edit this book (that’s me).


Where The Crawdads Sing is available in the Recreational Reading section of the library.

Content note: language, brief suggestive scenes, racism and sexism that was typical of the sixties

Reviews written by Olivia Chin reflect her personal opinions and not necessarily those of the library or university.



Top 5 Recent Bestsellers At The Library


Since the Union library is an academic one, the books we have on our shelves are primarily for research and school-related purposes. However, we also have some “fun reads” and bestsellers in our Recreational Reading section (which is on the 2nd floor near the DVDs). Several of these bestsellers have been popular here at the library, appearing on our most checked out items list for several months now. You can find brief descriptions of them, as well as links to where they are located in the library, below:


Educated by Tara Westover

Publication Year: 2018

Genre: Memoir

Description: Tara Westover describes her upbringing in an isolated, survivalist family who did not trust conventional schools or medicine. Westover eventually went to college and learned about the world beyond her mountains.


Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Publication Year: 2018

Genre: Mystery

Description: The “Marsh Girl” is a local legend in Barkley Cove, North Carolina. This mysterious figure emerges in the midst of local crime.


The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Publication Year: 2019

Genre: Historical fiction

Description: Two boys struggle to survive the horrors of their juvenile reformatory and racism in the Jim Crow era.


The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Publication Year: 2018

Genre: Historical fiction

Description: A family moves to Alaska in the 1970’s and deals with harsh wilderness, PTSD, and complicated relationships.


The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Publication Year: 2019

Genre: Dystopian fiction

Description: More than 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale, the oppressive Gilead regime is still standing- but there are signs that it is beginning to rot from within. (You can read our review of The Testaments here.)




What Should I Read Next? (Summer Edition)

What Should I Read Next_

It can be overwhelming trying to find new books to read. There are new stories released daily, and, if you already have a teetering to-be-read pile, adding yet another book can be intimidating. Still, there’s something exhilarating about finding your new favorite read! In this blog series, the library staff will recommend books to you based on your genre preferences. We do a lot of reading when we’re off work, and we enjoy testing out the new books that we get for the library! If you would like to get a personalized recommendation from us, please use the library chat function on our website.

So, what should you read next?



  • If you like mysterious origin stories, North Carolina, and interesting character development: Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Many of the librarians have given rave reviews to this bestselling book, which was released in August 2018, and all of them have different opinions about the ending!



  • For fans of intense real-life experiences, teaching and teachers, and survival techniques: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. Library director Melissa Moore said that she couldn’t put this book down and highly recommends it.





  • If you’re looking a lesser-known classic novella and a unique vampire tale: Carmilla by J.S. Le Fanu. This short, easy read has a gothic setting, mysterious illnesses, and a young female antagonist. Carmilla is also widely considered to be one of the first recorded vampire stories.




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