Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Mommy and Me Book Club)

Thanks for joining my “Mommy and Me” Book Club. I hope you’re enjoying my ongoing “stay in bed and read” series. See my thoughts on the previous book,Crazy Rich Asians. While you’re reading Where the Crawdads Sing, don’t forget to share these picture books with your children that relate in theme!

Title:  Where the Crawdads Sing

Author:  Delia Owens

Page No.:  384 pages

Publisher:  G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Price: $14.29 (hardcover)

Genres:  fiction; mystery, romance, American literature, historical fiction

Summary:

“What d’ya mean, where the crawdads sing? Ma used to say that.” 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.” 

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps. (From Goodreads)

Parenting Topics:

Without giving anything away (hopefully)…

  • Abandonment of Child(ren)
  • Adolescence/Puberty/Sexual Maturity
  • Children with Special Needs and Exceptionalities
  • Dating/Marriage
  • Education/Planning Child(ren)’s Future
  • Growing Up/Coming of Age
  • Home, Homecoming
  • In-Laws
  • Making Girlfriends
  • Milestones/Rite(s) of Passage
  • Mothers and Daughters
  • Moving Away/Long Distance Relationships
  • Parenting Styles
  • Single Parents
  • Social Isolation/Loneliness 

Themes:

With a parenting focus…

Character

“Faces change with life’s toll, but eyes remain a window to what was, and she could see him there.” 

Mamas/dadas, you’re there! Who you were before having kids is still there.

Childhood

We are forever shaped by the child we once were.

Crises

Keep calm and carry on.

“When in trouble, just let go, Go back to idle.”

Feelings (Managing Emotions)

“Life had made her an expert at mashing feelings into a storable size.” 

Love

Give love a chance.

“…Love must be free to wander, To land upon its chosen shore And breathe.”

Wildness

Embrace your wild.

“Go as far as you can—way out yonder where the crawdads sing.”

Quotable Quotes:

On Autumn

“Autumn leaves don’t fall, they fly. They take their time and wander on this their only chance to soar.”

On Boys (Unworthy Ones)

“Unworthy boys make a lot of noise.”

On Eating Cake

“While she pleaded for him not to cut through her name, he sliced enormous pieces of cake and plopped them on paper plates. Staring into each other’s eyes, they broke off bites and stuffed them in their mouths. Smacking loudly. Licking fingers. Laughing through icing-smeared grins. Eating cake the way it should be eaten, the way everybody wants to eat it.”

On Eyes (Window to the Soul)

“Faces change with life’s toll, but eyes remain a window to what was…”

On Girlfriends (and Sisters Too)

“Ya need some girlfriends, hon, ’cause they’re furever. Without a vow. A clutch of women’s the most tender, most tough place on Earth.”

“…That’s what sisters and girlfriends are all about. Sticking together even in the mud, ’specially in mud.”

“Ma had said women need one another more than they need men, but she never told her how to get inside the pride.”

On Gravity

“Like everything else in the universe, we tumble toward those of higher mass.”

On Grits

“I don’t know how to do life without grits.”

On Love

“Lot of times love doesn’t work out. Yet even when it fails, it connects you to others and, in the end, that is all you have, the connections.”

“Kya, I need to know that the running and hiding are over. That you can love without being afraid.”

On Mother Nature

“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.”

On Nature’s Indifference

“…judgement had no place here. Evil was not in play, just life pulsing on, even at the expense of some of the participants. Biology sees right and wrong as the same color in different light. Nothing seemed too indecorous as long as the tick & the tock of life carried on. She knew this was not a dark side to Nature, just inventive ways to endure against all odds.”

On Real Men

“His dad had told him many times that the definition of a real man is one who cries without shame, reads poetry with his heart, feels opera in his soul, and does what’s necessary to defend a woman.”

On Surrender

“She laughed for his sake, something she’d never done. Giving away another piece of herself just to have someone else.”

On Wild Things

“There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.”

On Words (The Power)

“I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.”

Worth Staying Up Late For (after the kids have gone to bed?): 

  • Yes, Stay Up Late!
  • Maybe, But See What’s on TV First.
  • No, Go to Bed!

Abandoned by her parents, siblings, the school system, and the town, Catherine Danielle Clark “Kya” – the so-called “Marsh Girl” is a reminder that our children will grow up in spite of us. Kya’s strong will to survive and tough as nails attitude allow her to brave the wilds of the marsh. Kya’s only mother is Mother Nature:  “Nature had nurtured, tutored, and protected her when no one else would.” Despite it all, she not only survives, but thrives – growing up to be a local book author/illustrator and biologist.

When we’re trying to do anything and everything for our children – and worried about all the mistakes we’re making along the way – we must remember our children are more resilient than we think. So mamas/dadas, take it easy on yourself. You’re striving to do the best you can. (Ahem, we can’t say the same for Kya’s parents.) Still we mustn’t forget how delicate and fragile children are.

This murder mystery – coming-of-age – romance novel, with its mishmash of genres, will kick up a whirlwind of emotions. The dazzling and detailed descriptions of Mother Nature are what you would expect from a zoologist. Delia Owens’ novel, a beautiful ode to nature in the same vein as a Barbara Kingsolver novel, is best read in bed with the windows wide open.

Do you feel isolated and/or lonely since becoming a parent? Has the isolation changed you – like it’s transformed our protagonist, Kya? I’m speaking especially to fellow stay-at-home parents:  have you felt “tutored by millions of minutes alone”? You may never get a minute alone with young children, but you can still get quite lonely. Very lonely. To quote Owens’ book, “How much do you trade [in your mom/dad life] to defeat loneliness?”

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