Rating 5 stars!
My first 5-star review of 2021 and well deserved! This book has literally everything that connects with my soul. A coming-of-age style historical fiction that is part romance, and mystery. With beautiful descriptions of nature, a southern setting, and poetry.
This book tells the story of the Marsh girl, Kya Clark. As a child Kya is abandoned by her family and forced to survive on her own in the swamp. It takes place over the span of 18 years, beginning in 1952 & jumping between timelines up to 1970 as we follow a murder investigation when the body of a young man, named Chase Andrews is found in the Marsh in 1969. From the beginning I was drawn into this family, and how they lived as outcasts in the North Carolina swamp. Kya's will to survive all alone at such a young age was admirable, and how she managed to do so, and for so long, was written well and not in an unrealistic way. Early on we are introduced to characters that play a huge role in her life such as Tate, a friend of her brother's. I loved Kya's relationship with Tate, and was rooting for their friends-to-lovers/childhood sweethearts romance from the beginning.
Jumpin', a Black man who works at the docks selling gas and other boating/fishing needs was a father figure to Kya, and was vital to her survival as a child. I did find the portrayal and description of Jumpin' and his wife Mabel to be a bit stereotypical but considering the time period, I let it slide.
There was not one character in this book who was one-dimensional. The pacing was easy to keep up with, and I never felt lost or like the story was dragging. Even the murder trial in the second half was written at a decent and necessary pace. I will say, that my only gripe with this story was the details around who killed Chase Andrews. I won't spoil it, but I felt the reveal wasn't necessary after everything the characters and the reader went through. It also seemed forced, and left me feeling a bit manipulated by the author. But it wasn't bad enough to lower my rating, and some readers might like how that plays out.
I know it's early but this book will definitely be in my top 5 for the year. The reviews seem like people either loved this story or hated it. I assume the ones giving it one star were not the target audience because this book was amazing. Highly recommend! Also, the author and her husband were zoologists Who spent time in Africa which is pretty cool, and shows very beautifully in her writing.
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