*If you are new here, WELCOME! For Where the Crawdads Sing, I provide your book club with a brief summary, a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!
If you haven’t heard of Where the Crawdads Sing yet, I’d be surprised. The book, released in 2018, has already sold 7 million copies as of this writing. Still, it’s a pretty new release, especially for some book clubs who require that a book is readily available through a library before they select it to read. Before now, securing the book via any other means than buying the hard copy would have been difficult.
The book is Delia Owen’s debut novel, although the author has written other non-fiction works. It’s a novel rich with natural history and scientific details of the ocean marsh where its main character, Kya, lives. Delia Owens’ background in zoology adds a significant depth to Kya’s love for the marsh and its creatures, taking the novel beyond a normal love-triangle and murder mystery plot.
The book is masterfully done and, although significantly different, has the same coming-of-age in the South feeling that readers love from To Kill a Mockingbird, which I wrote about earlier.
The right blend of character development and plot have made this book a bestseller, which also make it a great book club pick. Readers who love romance, but hate to forgo a deep character-change arc will love this book. Each character is tested in significant ways and by the end of the book some have triumphed and some have not. And, the methods by which some survive will leave room for plenty of discussion for your book club.
That said, if your book club has decided to read Where the Crawdads Sing (and you should!), I’ve provided book club questions and a delicious recipe for you. So, if you are looking for food ideas and more, keep reading!
Here’s a brief summary of Where the Crawdads Sing:
In the quiet town of Barkley Cove, North Carolina, popular Chase Andrews is found dead. The town suspects Kya Clark, the girl who has lived alone on the marsh for years. As wild and untamed as the marsh itself, the locals are weary of Kya, but prejudices have blinded them to the truth. A brilliant observer of the life at the edge of the ocean, Kya is far more intelligent than anyone realizes. But, she’s incredibly lonely. That is until Tate Walker notices her. Soon after Tate, Chase discovers Kya’s enticing beauty and Kya, who has longed to be touched by another human being, finds herself in a whirlwind between two men. Until the unthinkable happens.
For the Where the Crawdads Sing recipe:
This novel really does the South justice with all of the southern food mentioned throughout the book. There is hardly a scene where a detailed description of food isn’t present. That said, there is still an overwhelming presence of food scarcity in Kya’s life that adds tension to her situation.
If you are looking for food ideas for Where the Crawdads Sing, you can simply open up the book and find more than you need, but for simplicity I’ve provided a few ideas for you:
- Staples of Kya’s diet – Hoe Cakes, Corn Fritters, Grits, Eggs, Mussels, Cornbread, Greens – mentioned throughout the book
- Kya and Pa eat at a restaurant (Kya’s first time at a restaurant)- fried chicken and shrimp, mashed potatoes with gravy, cheese grits, fried “okree”, white acre peas, fried green tomatoes, biscuits, and blackberry cobbler with ice cream – Chapter 9
- Tate surprised Kya for her birthday – A two-tiered bakery cake, her first store-bought cake- Chapter 18
- Kya and Tate have Christmas dinner -Tate brings Kya turkey, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin pie – Chapter 18
- Kya and Chase have a picnic-cold fried chicken, salt-cured ham and biscuits, potato salad, sweet and dill pickles, and four-layer cake with caramel icing plus Royal Cola to drink – Chapter 23
- Kya makes Jodie dinner -black-eyed peas with red onions, fried ham, cornbread with cracklin’, butter beans cooked in butter and milk, and blackberry cobbler with hard cream-Chapter 33
Blackberry cobbler is mentioned twice in the book. The first time is when Kya and Pa go out to eat at a restaurant after her mother leaves. Things are improving between her and her father and the reader is hopeful he will take care of her. The day out at the restaurant is their most “normal” interaction and most likely a sweet memory for Kya to keep.
Later, when Jodie returns, Kya fixes him dinner. She makes him blackberry cobbler for dessert and adds hard cream using the alcohol Jodie brought with him. I imagine that dinner was a cherished reunion for them both.
If you’ve never had cobbler, blackberry is my favorite. It’s not too sweet like peach and not too tart like cherry. It’s just right. Add in a thick, biscuit-like crust and what isn’t to like?
I chose to leave my hard cream as cream, but you can definitely chose to whip it with an electric mixer just like you would regular whipped cream. The soft, sweet cream compliments the buttery crust and bright berry filling perfectly. And, with a little bourbon for a kick, it’s just perfect. Feel free to up the bourbon if you like or remove it all together!
So, if you are looking for food ideas for Where the Crawdads Sing, look no further! Your book club will love this recipe for Blackberry Cobbler with Hard Cream!
- ¾ cups sugar
- ¾ cups water
- 4 cups blackberries 18 oz
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 cups flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ cup butter cold and cubed
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 egg for egg wash
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp bourbon
- 2 tbsp sugar
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
For the filling:
- In a medium sauce pan, heat the water and sugar on medium-low until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly.
- Add in blackberries and flour. Increase the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occassionally.
- Set aside to cool while you prepare the dough.
For the crust:
- In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
- Using a fork or a pastry cutter, cut in the cubed, cold butter until a dry crumble mix is achieved.
- Add in the milk slowly. Mix until a dough forms. You may not need all of the milk. The dough should not be too wet or it will be very sticky.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll it into the size and shape of your baking dish and to a thickness of between ¼” and ½”.
- Pour the blackberry filling into a 2-2.5 qt baking dish.
- Place the dough on top of the filling.
- Brush with the egg wash.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and set.
- Once cooled, combine the ingredients for the hard cream in a separate bowl and whisk together. Spoon over servings of the cobbler.
Where the Crawdads Sing Book Club Questions:
*WARNING: May contain spoilers!
- The book opens with Kya being left by her mother. Soon after her older brother and sisters leave, followed by Jodie, and then her father. Kya never considers leaving home after everyone deserts her, even as she grows older. Why do you think that is?
- As Kya grows, the marsh and its inhabitants become her new family. As she learns, we learn about the environment. What interesting fact or moment from the marsh and its creatures stood out to you?
- Tate approaches Kya timidly, offering her gifts that speak to her soul and teaching her to read before finally becoming more. However, he winds up leaving her because of her “wildness,” knowing she can’t fit into his world. Although both he and Kya knew the risks, Kya is surprised and hurt by Tate’s leaving. Do you think the way Tate approached Kya in turn allowed her to open up to him and the possibility of being hurt? Or, what do you think it was about Tate that allowed her to be vulnerable?
- Chase approaches Kya self-assured and calculated. Kya, in turn, views him in a physical way, not allowing her heart to get involved, or so she claims. Do you really think either Chase or Kya were ever in control of the situation as they thought? Why or why not? Discuss how Chase brought out a different side of Kya than Tate.
- The townspeople only see Kya as a wild and almost dangerous unknown creature. In truth, she is an abandoned child who grows into a capable and intelligent researcher. Still, part of her is wild like the marsh she loves. Discuss how and why people were blind to who she was as a complete person, instead focusing on a single aspect of her, which leads to their prejudice.
- Discuss how this same idea played out in how townspeople viewed Chase Andrews, the Sherriff, Tate, etc. How did these prejudices shape the trial?
- When Jodie returns, Kya is quick to forgive him and happy to have him back in her life, despite the fact that he abandoned her. However, when Tate returns, she cannot forgive him for leaving her. Discuss the two situations. Why do you think Kya was able to forgive Jodie so easily, but withheld from Tate?
- Ultimately, we learn who killed Chase Andrews. Were you surprised or did you see the clues along the way (fireflies, praying mantis, etc.)?
- What do you think led to the murder? Was it a biological instinct or something more? Do you think it was the impossibility of living with fear? Discuss how living in fear would have been so much worse than living in loneliness.
- The book is split between the murder trial of Chase Andrews and Kya’s coming of age. Did you enjoy the format? What other books can you think of that shared a similar format?
Have you read Where the Crawdads Sing? What is your favorite book set in the South? How did Delia Owen’s novel compare?
Until next time, Happy Reading!
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