For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
This story follows Kya, also known as the Marsh Girl, and watches her go from a young girl abandoned by her mother, to an adult woman living alone in the Marsh. Kya was an incredible character to read, very strong and independent, and I felt both sorry for her and impressed. It was really enjoyable to watch her grow up and begin to tackle things in her life that she hadn’t faced before, such as love and a proper career, not just selling fish to the local shop. Kya’s mother left when she was young and, soon after, each of her siblings followed. Her dad sticked around for a few years but he eventually disappeared too. Kya was left to fend for herself and, with the help of the owner of the local shop and his wife, she was able to stand on her two feet and live a relatively comfortable life out in the Marsh.
This book was very thought provoking and, ultimately, left me realising that people aren’t who you necessarily think they are. We watch a young Kya attend her first day of school, only to never go back after being bullied, yet she still receives an education from Tate, Kya’s main love interest, and eventually begins to publish books about the Marsh and the creatures that live in it. She is very smart and enjoys reading, as well as draws the creatures she finds.
The main themes in this book are quite difficult to read. The book shows the damage abandonment can have on a person, that Kya just expects everyone in her life to leave at some point and is reluctant to form relationships with people. She is perfectly fine by herself and, as we watch her develop romantic relationships with Tate and then Chase, as they progress we see her still having doubts and concerns about being abandoned. It was very moving to read and rather upsetting.
Kya is one of the best characters I have ever read in a novel. She had so much depth to her and, despite everything, she still managed to enjoy her limited life in the Marsh and feel free.
Overall, I rated this book five stars. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first picked it up, but I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. I will definitely be picking this book up at some point to reread, and I highly recommend you read it if you haven’t already.