Where the Crawdads Sing is part murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature—all taking place in the south. The following book club questions will have spoilers so if you haven’t read the novel yet, check out my preview and review.
The story starts off in late 1969 when the town heartthrob, Chase Andrews, is found dead. Locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl, who was left to raise herself in the marshes of North Carolina when her family abandoned her at a young age. While Kya is dismissed as ‘marsh trash,’ in reality, she’s sensitive and intelligent. When two young men from town become intrigued by her, it changes all of their lives forever.
Let’s get into the book club questions
- For most of the novel, the chapters alternate between Kya’s upbringing and the murder mystery. What did you think about the balance between the two?
- There’s so many vivid descriptions of life in the marsh. What are some of the descriptions that stuck out to you the most?
- We know that Kya is the one left behind. For much of the novel, we don’t know why Kya’s mother left and never returned. Why did you think she left at first? What did you think about Jodie’s revelation about their mom? What did it reveal about the differences between Kya and her mom? Were you surprised when Jodie came back?
- How would Kya’s life have been different if she would have stayed in school?
- Let’s talk about the ways in which Jumpin’ and Mabel become surrogate parents. How did they help her survive? Why do you think they didn’t turn her in to social services, knowing that she lived alone as a child?
- Why do you think Tate was always drawn to Kya? What did he see in her that others didn’t?
- When Tate went to college and came back, he couldn’t see a life with Kya. Let’s talk about why he thought this and the actions behind his decision.
- How did observing nature impact Kya’s viewpoint of relationships?
- What do you make of Chase’s interest in Kya? Was she a conquest or so you think she was something more to him at first? Tate and Chase are very different type of guys. What did you think Kya saw in them?
- Did you think all along Kya killed Chase? Or did you believe it was someone else?
- Once Kya was arrested, did you think she was going to be convicted? Were you surprised at the outcome?
- Kya is judged throughout her entire life: as a child, she’s the dirty, uneducated marsh girl and then as an adult, she’s the odd and wild thing in the marsh. Instead of trying to help her as child, the locals turned their backs on her and left her alone. How did this impact the later trial case? What role did guilt play in it?
- Do you believe Tate was the right person for her? Why or why not?
- Let’s talk about the ending. Were you surprised she never told the truth to Tate? Why do you think she did kill Chase? Did that change your opinion of Kya?
- Do you think Kya was a victim of circumstances? How did loneliness impact her decision making?
- What did you think about the use of poetry? Were you surprised when Kya was a secret poet?
- Let’s talk about the title, what does Where the Crawdads Sing represent in the context of this story?
What to Read Next
Crawdads is one of those special books that stick with you for a long time. Here are some other thought-provoking reads:
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes is an engaging tale about five women and their journey through the mountains of Kentucky.
Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.
The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.
What happens to them–and to the men they love–becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.
Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic–a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.
Educated by Tara Westover is a deeply personal memoir about a journey to education.
Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.