From Page to Screen: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Where the Crawdads Sing has been a really popular story for a while. I picked up a copy second hand at my local indie bookstore and dove right in!
I wasn't sure what to expect from this. Honestly, I tend to avoid super popular books because they have a tendency to let me down.
Where the Crawdads Sing starts out slow. You get Kya, the main character, telling you about her history as a child and how everyone in her family left her. While it's tragic to see this unfold from the perspective of a child, her history is intertwined with the "current" plotline, where a popular man from town has been found dead in the swamp. It takes a while for that plot to pick up as well.
I really got engaged when Kya was a teenager and a boy named Tate started leaving feathers for her. Y'all know me, romance is my favorite.
One thing I really loved is that Owens didn't shy away from topics that are considered taboo, like Kya getting her period for the first time and not understanding it. That Tate was so kind with her about it really endeared him to me.
Kya and Tate spent months together. He taught her to read. She learned just how smart she was and how much she knew about the marsh land. By this point, most of the town knew her as Marsh Girl.
Entwined with this history is the murder investigation. Chase Andrews was the person found dead in the swamp. The police haven't quite been able to prove whether it was murder or an accident, though there are clues that point toward Kya.
Tate goes off to college, and he breaks his promise to come back to Kya. So she seeks comfort in someone else: Chase Andrews. They spend time together, and he leads her to believe that he's going to marry her. Spoiler alert: he doesn't.
I won't go into any more plot detail, but let me tell you, the ending is something I did not expect.
The two plotlines take place between the 1950s and 1960s. My favorite characters were Jumpin and Mabel. Jumpin is a Black man who owned the store where Kya got her stuff. He and Mabel helped Kya as best they could: buying her fish and mussels that she brought in, giving her clothes, life advice. They truly loved her.
This also leads to the question of who actually killed Chase Andrews? You find out in the last few pages. So Good.
I was more excited than ever to jump into the movie. I couldn't wait to see how they took the plots from the book and converted it to film.
The movie did exactly what I wanted out of the book: condensed. While we still got all of Kya's backstory with her family leaving, it was more interconnected to the trial. While we're learning about Kya's romances with Tate and Chase, she's also being arrested. We see the support she has from Tate, Jumpin, Mabel, and her lawyer.
Overall, I thought the book translated really well to film. It was cast well--I love when they case relatively unknown actors in major productions like this. Especially because the guy who plays Tate would make a perfect Jesse from Guns & Smoke!
My one complaint was the ending, which I won't spoil here. Just let me say, what's obvious in the ending of the book, isn't so obvious on the screen.
As I said before, I typically steer away from super popular books, but I'm glad this time that I didn't. I really enjoyed the book, and the movie was well done as well except for the last little scene. I watched it with my sister and it wasn't completely clear to her, so I had to explain it.
If you enjoy literary fiction, definitely check this one out!