Author: Delia Owens
Genre: Literary Fiction & Coming of Age & Women’s Contemporary (per inside of book cover)
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Editor: Tara Singh Carlson
Publication Date: 2018
Synopsis: 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. Through Kya’s story, Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
the FOOD. Owens and I would probably get along great, simply because she clearly has a deep love affair with food. She weaves in descriptions of food (DELICIOUS food) throughout the book which is something that I personally loved. I always wonder what characters are eating but its rarely mentioned unless it has to do with the story directly. In this story, you get introduced and crave all the southern food you can imagine.
the timeline. If you have trouble keeping up with movies that jump around between the past and future, this may not be the book for you. The book starts in 1969, with a one page prologue where we learn of a mans death. Then the book jumps back 17 years talking about entirely different people. And the next chapter? Back to 1969. The book continues in this pattern until the two timelines meet up. It’s very intricate and really builds up anticipation on the “who dun it” aspect.
the immersion into the marsh. My Grandma read this book on my recommendation and she says that the way Owens describes the marsh reminds her so much of the riverbanks she grew up on. I think that is because of the beautiful way the author describes things. She is the author of 3 nonfiction books that deal with nature and wildlife (is she the marsh girl?) and because of her experience I believe she does an excellent job at describing the world realistically and poetically as well.
coming of age aspect: I personally love the coming of age books...Anne of Green Gables, Huck Finn, Lily’s Crossing, Pollyanna. I could go on and on. There is just something about a story starting with youth, even when it starts really young like it does here. Kya’s story begins when she is 6, and when you read about her family and experiences, you are reminded that your childhood has such a huge impact, even subconsciously, on your future.
the character of Kya: She is the main character so, generally speaking, I’m supposed to love her. But I mean, I really, deeply, truly, adore her. The author wrote her with such passion and complexity that I see parts of me and parts of others in her. She has so many pieces and It’s truly beautiful. Her love interest in the book does an amazing job at understanding her but I love that the author conveys that even he doesn’t know her fully. It really solidifies the importance of knowing and loving yourself and having a good and active relationship with yourself. I may be overanalyzing but Kya is a piece of work and a work of art, and I love it.
I loved the characters of this book but I loved this book so much that I wish I had even more backstory on some of the characters. I don’t want a whole series or a spinoff but I felt that there could have been more backstory. The character of Jumpin’, for example, we have a little bit of information on his present life but he was so influential to the story that I felt he deserved more backstory. I also felt this way about Chase. He needed more backstory. His motives seemed like they had to have stemmed from somewhere other than his upbringing. The brevity of his family background irritated me. Also, I thought that I would have liked to know more about the Sheriff and his right hand man, so that when they were working the case, I might be a little more interested in them. As it is, I just cared about the case and was irritated when the chapter were too long and pulled me away from the Marsh Girl.
The only other thing I disliked in the book, I can’t discuss well without giving spoilers. I will just say that there are often times when you read or watch something and wish that it had turned out differently for one or more of the characters. That is super relevant in this book. The author is very good at keeping you guessing but is also realistic.
“Kya insisted on keeping the old woodstove, firewood piled next to it, because it heated the shack, but mostly because it has baked a thousand biscuits from her mother’s heart”
--to explain briefly, this sentence is found when Kya has enough money to change her way of life. But, she understands that there are some things that are sacred and can’t be bought.
Favorite Scene: the courthouse
Final Thoughts: This book is for everyone who wishes to take a breath and get immersed in another world, another life, and see things from a different perspective. The murder mystery storyline is written well, and kept me guessing until the very end. It’s a beautiful story and really tugs at your heart in all the best possible ways.
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