Where the Crawdads Sing

A book to movie review

When my friend recommended Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, I thought it was going to be another one of her cheesy stories that she finds on Tik Tok, but I kept hearing more people talk about how much they loved this novel. So, I gave it a read. To my surprise, I was completely entranced by this story from beginning to end. It quickly became one of my favorite books of all time. Upon seeing that there would be a movie adaptation of the novel, I was skeptical… and rightfully so. 

Delia Owens’ #1 New York Times Best Seller Where the Crawdads Sing book cover.

The Book

The story follows an abused and abandoned child, Kya, as she learns to live on her own in the marsh of North Carolina. Even though she lives in solitude, she builds relationships with a man who runs the bait shop, Jumpin’, and a boy from town, Tate. 

She is known as the ‘Marsh Girl’ to others in town, characterized as the girl with ratty hair, no shoes, and no mother. We follow her as she grows and learns to survive in the marsh.  It also flashes forward to a murder investigation of Chase Andrews. The plot works to uncover the relationship that Chase and Kya once had and what happened to him. The book follows themes of ostracism, independence and survival. 

Here’s the deal, I love character development in novels. I want to be inside their head and see what they’re thinking and uncover the truth to their actions. Owens delivered! 

The first third of the book was showing her family abandoning her and her learning how to live alone and make money (with the help of Jumpin’). You have no choice but to feel for this young girl as she is thrown into a world of unknowns. I wanted to wrap her up and protect her from the world.

Jumpin’ felt the same way, but he guided her through life at a distance. He helped her in seemingly small ways, but they truly meant the world. He allowed her to be independent and free because he knew smothering her would burn out her flame. This headstrong girl needed to figure out life on her own, and Jumpin’ was there when she needed him. 

Owens also brought us on a journey of learning and education as Tate taught her how to read and write. The power of education brings a new found freedom to Kya, as well as a love interest. 

The relationships she built with Jumpin’ and Tate were heartwarming. I got to see how she grew from a seemingly helpless little girl to an intelligent young woman. 

In addition to the character development of Kya, the plot was thick which kept me interested. There is an entire murder investigation and trial for the murder of Chase Andrews. As you would suspect, Kya was the main suspect. The trial had me in a whirlwind of emotions. It showed elements of prejudice and the ostracism Kya felt. 

This book broke my heart, pieced it back together 10-fold, smashed it into a million pieces, then put it together again. I don’t get this amount of emotional turmoil in real life, and I was living for it. 

The Movie

When I heard the film adaptation of this novel was coming out, I was skeptical… and I had a right to be. The movie thoroughly pissed me off. I may have enjoyed the man in the theater aggressively eating his popcorn and candy more than the movie itself. 

The movie took a complex story and dumbed it down so it would be more accessible to the public. They focused on the parts of the movie that would sell: Romance and Murder. By focusing on these aspects, they watered down my favorite parts of the book: her personal achievement, and relationships with Jumpin’ (the only person who never let her down) and Jodie (her only known relative). 

They turned Kya into a lifeless, one-dimensional character whose greatest purpose was to fill a male fantasy. My feminist heart winced. Sure, romance and murder were vital parts of the storyline, but its also in every other movie. They took a book about a girl rising from her past and making a name for herself into another predictable mystery romance. 

Beyond the storyline, the acting was incredibly bland. The characters had no chemistry, and the fake accents sounded like nails on a chalkboard. I would say that the best part of the movie was Taylor Swift’s song, Carolina, playing over the credits. 

This book absolutely stole my heart, so it was disappointing to see the movie adaptation not live up to the hype. Read the book. Skip the movie. 

Leave a Reply