7 Books to Read if You Loved Where the Crawdads Sing

 

If you pay attention to bestseller lists, you’ve probably read Where the Crawdads Sing by now. It’s spent a billion weeks at the top of The New York Times Bestseller list and was Reese Witherspoon picked it for her book club.

Part of what makes the book so dang good is how unique it is. It’s part mystery, part historical fiction, part coming of age story. It’s set on the North Carolina coast between 1952 and 1969, with two alternating timelines that eventually weave together. The landscape is a character on its own, the writing is atmospheric and the natural descriptions are vivid.

Kya Clark is six years old when her mother takes off, leaving her and her siblings with their neglectful  alcoholic father. Her siblings each eventually go their separate ways, but she stays with her father and ends up fending for herself from a young age.  Her resilience is astounding, and just one part of what makes her such a fascinating protagonist.

 

 

Often when we have a fantastic reading experience, we want more of that thing! Here are seven more novels that I’ve found to have a similar thread to WTCS in one way or another.

 

 

7 Books to Read if You Loved Where the Crawdads Sing

 

 

A Time to Kill by John Grisham

First published in 1989, this was John Grisham’s first novel. It came to mind a lot while I was reading Crawdads because it has a similar feel in regard to the trial that takes place in a small southern town. This is story of race and justice, with a young girl the victim of a crime and now her family is at the center of the turmoil.

 

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

Helena grew up in isolation living in the wilderness with her parents. Her mother was a victim of her father, kidnapped as a young girl and held captive for years. He taught Helena everything there was to know about living off the land. The story starts in present day and goes back and forth between Helena’s mission to track her father, and the story of their past together. It is all woven together smoothly, secrets and details released gradually as it all comes together in heart pounding scenes.

 

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

If you enjoyed the nature study component of Crawdad’s most, then you’ll thoroughly enjoy this one. Kingsolver weaves together the stories of three very different protagonists who live and work among the mountains and farms of southern Appalachia. Set over a single summer, the characters face challenges and decisions that gradually lead their lives to intertwine.

 

 

LaRose by Louise Erdrich

A powerful family drama with a young boy at the center, torn between two families. While out hunting, Landeaux Iron shoots what he believes is a deer on the edge of his property. Only after he’s squeezed the trigger killed his neighbor’s five-year-old son, Dusty. Tortured by what he’s done,  Landeaux engages in an Ojibwe tribe tradition, entering the sweat lodge for spiritual guidance. Then following an ancient means of retribution, he and his wife give their own son to Dusty’s grieving parents.

 


  Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

Like Kya in Crawdads, our protagonist here leads an isolated existence deeply connected to nature. Weylyn Grey was orphaned as an infant, raised by wolves, so he’s always known he wasn’t like other people. It’s only after he’s able to single-handedly stop a tornado that he realizes just how different he actually is. When Weylyn saves Mary’s life on her 11th birthday, their lives become intertwined in a story full of nature and wonder.

 

The Gone Dead by Chanelle Benz

At atmospheric mystery set in the Mississippi Delta about family secrets and identity. Billie James has no memory of the night her father died accidentally when she was four years old. Thirty years later she has returned to the small town for the first time and hears a stunning rumor from locals: that she went missing the night her father died. As she she digs into her own  memories, and those of the people who were in her father’s life, Billie learns there is more to the story than she ever knew. And the more she learns, the more she may be in danger.

 

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Brynn Greenwood

Eight year old Wavy is the daughter of a meth dealer, who long ago realized she couldn’t count on her parents. When she witnesses one of her father’s thugs wreck his motorcycle, both of their lives change, and Wavy learns what it’s like to have someone in her life who truly cares about her wellbeing. Their odd relationship grows into a powerful and shocking love story. It’s a fascinating, though often heavy look at love, family and protection.

 


I hope you find these novels as wonderful as I have. If you’ve read any of them and Crawdads, I’d like to know if you think the comparisons are fair. Or do you have any others you’d add to my list?

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