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Where the Crawdads Sing: From the Pages to the Screen

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Where the Crawdads Sing is a thrilling mystery about the murder of Chase Andrews. All eyes are on the infamous “Marsh Girl,” Kya Clark, as the culprit. As someone who was enticed by the book, I was pleasantly surprised to find not only a film adapted from the book, but also a Taylor Swift song, “Carolina,” to accompany the film. Here are the notable differences between the book and the film that I took note of. Be warned, spoilers are present.

Time Shifts

In the film, the trial is shown in intervals spaced throughout most of the film, whereas in the book, the trial is mainly pushed to the end of the novel. The beginning of the book fully focuses on the backstory of Kya Clark, and goes in depth to explain her predicament, upbringing, and how she ends up as a suspect of murder; and then it dives into the trial. Although the suspense of the judge’s decision and the reveal of Chase Andrews’ murderer are still saved till the end of the film, some may find the beginning of the film confusing with the jumps from past to present.

There’s another timeline difference when Tate gives Kya the means to become a published author. Within the book, Tate comes to Kya after abandoning her for years because he was finishing university. As a means of forgiveness, he gives her information on how to officially publish her life’s study in the swamp of its creatures and plants. It was a way to give her financial independence, allowing her to accomplish feats such as paying off decades of taxes to own her property and renovating her shack that she spent her entire life in with modern accommodations. 


Various members of the community take the time to testify at Kya’s trial, including Chase’s own mother. However, some characters are removed from the movie. While they were not vital, they add a new perspective on Kya’s alibi that ends up being overlooked in the film. For example, the bus driver is questioned in the book on if there was a possibility that Kya disguised herself as either an old lady or a tall man, and took the night bus from Barkley Cove to Greenville, where Kya’s alibi was. The story is that she took a night bus from Greenville to Barkley Cove in the middle of the night, proceeded with the murder, and took another night bus right back to Greenville. In the movie, the possibility of her taking the buses was mentioned, but the fact that the bus driver may or may not have seen her disguised was not discussed. 

The Poet

Finally, perhaps the biggest difference from the book to the movie, throughout the novel, numerous poems of an esteemed poet by the name of Amanda Hamilton are on the back of Kya’s mind. These poems are relevant to Kya’s experiences, ranging from topics of love to nature, to freedom. While a seemingly insignificant detail to note throughout the novel, in the end, it helps lead to a huge revelation.

Long after Kya passes, Tate (who was married to Kya) remains at the cabin that Kya had grown up in. He is rummaging through her belongings, when he stumbles upon her collection of Amanda Hamilton’s poems that were in the newspaper. Knowing how she had loved the poet and her work, he thinks nothing of it. That is, until he discovers her collection of unfinished poems and realizes that the author “Amanda Hamilton” was actually his wife, Kya Clark. This leads to him discovering the unfinished poem “Firefly” that details how Kya Clark had been the killer of Chase Andrews, despite the fact that she was proven innocent at the murder trial and the case went cold decades before her death. The existence of Amanda Hamilton and her poems was completely erased from the movie. Erasing Amanda and the poems, therefore also changes how Tate discovers that Kya was the killer.  

Overall, the movie and the film proved to be a mysterious dive into the misunderstandings and hardships of the Marsh Girl; from her need to survive on her own, to the misconceptions of the town towards her. The murder of Chase Andrews put her as the number one suspect, and while she ultimately was the culprit, she got away with it. Whether you read it or watch it, both stories depict an intense and worthwhile story to consume.

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Ankita Goswami

U Mass Amherst '27

My name is Ankita! I am a biomedical engineering major who loves writing.