“Where the Crawdads Sing” – Bookcast #38

Where the Crawdads Sing (2018) by Delia Owens

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  • A very brief description of “Where the Crawdads Sing”
    • A story of the natural world, a coming-of-age story, and a murder mystery. A little girl named Kya is abandoned by her family and must grow up on her own in the marshes of North Carolina. Years later the most popular young man in town is killed and Kya is the chief suspect. Is the strange and mysterious “marsh girl” the murderer or is she simply to blame because she’s different?
  • What Owens sets out to do / Purpose of the book
    • The book is a mystery and a romance story but more than anything it’s about the pain – and beauty – of the world of nature.
  • The intended audience of the book / Who will benefit most
    • People who like good writing
    • People who love romance…and tragedy
    • People who love nature and the natural world
  • Who probably WON’T like this book?
    • People with ADD
    • People who need a strong, exciting plot
    • People who aren’t in touch with their feelings
    • Honestly…a lot of men won’t like this book
  • How does this book specifically benefit Men? 
    • It’s important for men to spend time in nature. We need to learn to understand it, how to live off the land, to form relationships with animals and to protect and preserve our natural resources. This book will help to cultivate an appreciation for nature. Plus if you like light romance it’s pretty good.
  • Is this book Easy, Average or Difficult to read? / How long is it?
    • Easy to read, poignant, beautiful writing, somewhat boring if you need action and a strong plot
    • 383 pages, 12 hours 12 minutes on Audible
  • What are the overall book reviews? Is the book well-known? Popular? Significant?
    • 251,138 ratings, 4.8 stars
      • #5 in Kindle Store
      • #1 in Women’s Historical Fiction (NOTE: it’s not historical fiction)
      • #1 in Contemporary Literary Fiction
      • #1 in Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction
    • #1 in Audible Books & Originals
    • #1 in Literary Fiction
    • #1 in Historical Romance (AGAIN it’s not historical fiction…)
  • Book-To-Movie Translation 
    • Box Office release July 15th

Bio of Delia Owens

  • Delia was born in southern Georgia in 1949 (she is 73). Her mother encouraged Delia to explore far into the oak forests, saying “Go way out yonder where the crawdads sing.” Her mother taught her how to hike without stepping on rattle snakes and most important not to be afraid of critters of any kind. Delia went on to spend most of her life in or near true wilderness and since childhood has thought of Nature as one of her best friends.
  • In the sixth grade Delia won first place in a writing competition, and felt sure this meant she would one day be a writer.
  • Because her family spent some of every summer in the mountains of North Carolina, Delia has a special attachment to the wild and beautiful places of that state. Where the Crawdads Sing is based in the lush Carolina coastal marsh.
  • By the time she started university, she had decided to pursue a career in science instead of literature. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from the University of Georgia and, later, a Ph.D. in Animal Behavior from UC Davis. 
  • She and her husband Mark moved to the Central Kalahari of Botswana in early 1974. They set up a basic campsite in an area so remote they were the only two people, except for a few bands of roving Bushmen. Very soon the first pride of lions came up to Delia and Mark’s camp and lay just beyond the trees. The Owens radio collared and studied six lion prides for more than seven years. 
  • Delia and Mark also studied the elusive brown hyenas, who came into camp almost every night. During these years, Delia became fascinated with the social groups of mammals which are almost always made up of females. The males come and go for mating or meals, but the females stay in their birth groups and maintain strong bonds with their pride or pack mates for life.
  • Based on their research and life in the Kalahari, she co-authored the bestselling, award-winning book, Cry of the Kalahari. Her research on the evolution of social denning in brown hyenas earned her a Ph. D. at the University of California, Davis.
  • From the Kalahari, the Owens moved to Zambia to continue wildlife research. Besides studying elephants, Delia and Mark established a program that offered jobs, loans, and other assistance to local villagers so they would not have to poach wildlife for a living.
  • Soon the elephants felt safe in the Owens’ camp and would stroll between their cottages feeding on marula fruits.
  • For 23 years Delia conducted research on endangered species in Africa, publishing her results in the scientific journals Nature, Animal Behavior, Natural History and many others. Her research and conservation work in Africa earned her the Golden Ark award from the Netherlands, the University of California Award for Excellence and the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing.
  • Delia has written four books: Cry of the Kalahari, Eye of the Elephant, Secrets of the Savannah and Where the Crawdads Sing. Where the Crawdad’s Sing is her first novel.

Breakdown of Themes

  • Survival, Necessity, and Violence
    • Survival is an innately human skill that arises out of necessity. When Kya is a child, her mother leaves home, and her older siblings follow their mother’s lead, leaving her alone with an abusive and dangerous father. 
    • She is forced to do whatever it takes to survive – including, when necessary, to fight for her life.
  • Independence vs. Human Connection
    • Kya is only seven years old when her last family member deserts her, leaving her alone in isolated marshlands. Left to her own devices, she cultivates a form of self-sufficiency that helps her thrive on her own. One facet of this self-sufficiency is an unyielding sense of independence that makes her distrustful of others.
  • Education, Coming of Age, and Adulthood
    • Although Kya doesn’t attend school, she cultivates an understanding of the world that isn’t confined to textbooks, classrooms, or standard courses of study. In fact, her alternative education is more holistic than it would be if she went to school, and her intellectual growth ultimately charts her path from childhood to adulthood.
  • Prejudice, Intolerance, and Acceptance
    • The novel is set against a backdrop of prejudice and intolerance. This is illustrated by the social stratification of the area in which Kya grows up, a backwater town in North Carolina strongly divided by race, class, opportunity, education and social status.

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"Where the Crawdads Sing" - Bookcast #38 1

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