Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

A Novel

“My great-grandmother Morrison fixed a book rest to her spinning wheel so that she could read while she was spinning, or so the story goes.”

I liked Crow Lake from the very first sentence to the very last.  It was an enjoyable, easy, and engrossing read.  Crow Lake, set in the Northern farmlands of Ontario, is a story about a family that encounters a tragic event that changes their lives forever.  The story is told by Kate who was seven years old when it happens.  She has a special bond with her older brother Matt who is extremly bright.  The story is in large part about their relationship, and how it changes throughout the years.  

Although the book had a bit of a melancholy feel (Kate seemed achingly lonely at times), I really liked it and I thought it was a good book to read during the holidays.   It’s an interesting and mature look at family dynamics regarding acceptance, sacrifice, and familial love. 

I was reading through the comments and decided to add this to my post.

I was reading through the comments and I’m glad to hear that some of you have read and liked this book as well.  I really struggled trying to write a review and I feel like I left out a few things other things that I really appreciated about the book.

1.  I thought the character development was spectacular.  I find it interesting how some writers do such a wonderful job of bringing their characters to life, while others seem to really struggle with it.

2.  The main character Kate, in the present, is a Zoologist and there are a few times within the book that we get little dips into the world of Zoology and a little schooling on the effects of pollutants on the surface tension of still water.  I love when books let me get a little glimpse of what it might be like to be a scientist and I get a little extra knowledge thrown my way.


20 Responses to “Crow Lake by Mary Lawson”

  1. I like that first sentence, too! Looks like one for my bookshopping list. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

  2. I loved this book (and have that quote in my book quote journal)! I adored the youngest daugher (Bo) as she provided much needed comic relief to such a melancholy story. I’ve read this more than once and plan to read it again in the coming year. I also read her recent release (The Other Side of the Bridge) which was quite good, but Crow Lake is my favorite of the two.
    Yes! I loved Bo too!

  3. I’ve had this book forEVER and haven’t read it yet. Looks like I need to pick it up, finally. Glad you liked it.

  4. Ohhh, I just got this book through bookmooch. I can’t wait to dive right in!

  5. This is one of those books sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. Glad to hear it’s such a good read! If I join in on the TBR challenge, perhaps I’ll make this one of my selections.
    It sat awhile on my shelf too, I’m glad I finally dove in!

  6. what are the themess and symbols in this book… im in grade 11 and i have no ideaaa an di need to know this information for my ISP
    Shiren – Thanks for stopping by, I sent you an email regarding this.

  7. Adeel Syed Says:

    Heh, I’m also in Grade 11. I just finished reading the book. I didn’t enjoy it as much as many of you seem to. It’s a good read, and that’s all I view it as. It is not mind blowing, awe inspiring work in my eyes. But hey, that’s only my opinion.

    @ Shiren. There are a lot of themes and symbols that you can pick up on in the book. First let’s focus on the common Canadian themes. The three major themes that Canadian literature follows oh so dearly are: Isolation, Survival, Search for Identity. Let’s see if we can relate some parts of the book to these themes.

    Right in the beginning there is a quote which says something like our house “nothing for 3000 miles, and then the North Pole.” Hmmm, seems to me, they’re pretty isolated from the rest of the world, living up north in a small minute farming community. Kate also feels isolated from the family at times. Next, Survival! Oh boy. The massive winter storm is trouble for the entire community, if you can recall. People are hurt, the storm is worse than before, etc. And lastly, Search for Identity. You can argue this with almost every book. But if you’re looking for a quote from this book, I guess you can go with the sentence near the end where Kate says something about “looking at Matt in a new perspective”. You can argue that the change and discovery she has undergone is evident at this point in time. Blah blah blah, so much more you can use. Just argue it well.

    Anyways, I’m going to get back to MY Crow Lake assignment, for which I was doing some research right now. LOL. I’ll probably use some of what I said in my assignment, so make sure to change the words around, if you know what I mean 😉 😛

    — Adeel (

  8. Nice Adeel! Thanks for stopping by adn helping Shiren out.

  9. Brittney Says:

    hi there,

    i have jus finished crow lake and i too think that it was a good read. I also have an assignment to write on the novel about the role and significance of the natural environment in the book. I have a few theories..the pond being symbolic to Matt and Kate’s relationship etc. but I could use the extra input for other thoughts on the subject. All contributions welcome!!

  10. OKAY. Talk about grade 11 student, completely lost, venerable, looking for some guidance and stumbled upon Adeel’s response. VIVE LAA GOOGLE! My isu required a group presentation on assigned chapters..(my groups are chapters 8, 9 and 11) lasting about 30 mins or so and with awkward shyness threw out my class the past two presentations have lasted a mere five minutes. Torture to listen to .. whats worse is that the whole class could just feel the tension rising in our teachers head. Crow lakes a great book, so far. But its all about perception and the curriculum is stubborn. So if your whole presentation is not what ur teacher thinks, your wrong. Our group had completely forgotten about relating it with Common themes amongst CA literature. Maybe if the teacher spent more time on course related stuff instead of trying to convince us to go into the trades, my class wouldn’t be having this issue, now would they.

  11. jameswitter Says:

    Can anyone please help me think of points for an essay, given this thesis???

    “Kate’s inability to show emotion and deal with her past are responsible for developing the conflicts within her personal relationships with everyone.”

    Please email me at

    any input is appreciated:)!!! thanks so much


  12. I’m in grade 9, and I’m reading this book for English class. I need help with what the theme is! :s

  13. Could someone help me ?
    Im doing an assignment on this and REALLY need to know what the theme of this novel is, and an example of it ! Pleaseee help me.Thank you!

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  15. I read this for my grade 11 ISU on archetypal criticism… I had no idea what I was writing for that essay but the book wasn’t too bad.

  16. taylor chessa Says:

    I need quotes to show, guilt and acceptance over the parents death…please help

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