Kya Clark has never known anyplace other than the marshes around Barclay Cove, North Carolina. Her impoverished family splintered because of her abusive alcoholic father and eventually she was left alone at the tender age of eleven when he walked away and never returned. Kya managed to support herself by selling mussels to a kind owner of a marina and learned to read with the help of a friend. But more importantly, she learned about life through the ecology and wildlife in the marshes.
I don’t normally appreciate lots of descriptions about settings unless they are critical to the story and integrated expertly with the plots and characterizations. My instincts were to listen to this book instead of read it on my kindle app as I feared the marsh elements would overwhelm the story. I was right to listen to the book but for completely different reasons. The narrator, one of my favorites, brought the beautiful writing and imagery to life. Instead of being bored, I was enthralled. I could see the landscape that Kya saw, its beauty, sustenance and sanctuary amidst the poverty and bigotry of that era. The presentation was poetic in its delivery (I don’t normally like poetry!) and helped to create loveliness in Kya’s perspectives. Yes, this was expertly written.
It’s not all imagery because Kya’s story is fraught with disappointments, danger and ugliness along with her appreciation of her life in the marshes. Known as the “Marsh Girl” by the people in town, you can imagine how she was treated whenever she ventured into their midsts. People fear and ostracize what they don’t understand and Kya is definitely misunderstood. A childhood friend becomes her lifeline who knows her heart and captures his. He becomes a symbol for all those who can see beyond their discomfort with the unknown.
I loved this story that carried me through the course of Kya’s life and immersed me in her solitary world. The ending was one I foresaw but was still stunned by, leaving me reeling in the aftermath. I will always remember this character and story. I’ve a new appreciation for the satisfaction that can come from being alone when surrounded by natural beauty.
- Release Date: August 14, 2018
- Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
- Audio Length: 12 hours, 12 minutes
- Publisher: Penguin Audio
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(I received an advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review)