‘Marsh is not swamp. Marsh is a space of light, where grass grows in water, and water flows into the sky.’
Barkley Cove, North Carolina, 1969. The body of a handsome young man, Chase Andrews is found dead. Was it an accident, or was it murder?
In 1952, Kya Clark’s mother leaves her family. She leaves her abusive husband, and her children. Kya, aged just seven, is the youngest. The Clark family live in the marsh near Barkley Cove. Over the next few years, Kya’s siblings leave. And then her father leaves as well.
‘Always cover yo’ tracks; I learned ya how.’
Kya survives. A friend of her brother, a boy named Tate, becomes her friend. They share an interest in the birds and the beauty of the marsh. Tate teaches Kya to read, which opens an entire new world for her. Tate moves away, to go to college. Kya is alone and, perhaps for the first time, lonely.
Part love story, part legal drama, part mystery. I loved aspects of this novel, liked others and was indifferent to parts. A mixed reaction and I am not entirely sure why. Ms Owens brings the setting to life with her descriptions of the marsh, with the people such as Tate (and a few others) who help Kya. And then there is Chase Andrews.
From 1952, to 1969 and then beyond, we follow Kya’s life. And, right at the end, there is a twist.
I had mixed feelings about this novel. I did not love it, but I did enjoy it. Anything is possible in fiction.
‘Please don’t talk to me about isolation. No one has to tell me how it changes a person.’