This novel is a contemporary fiction that takes place in the marshes of North Carolina. It follows a girl, Kya, who is abandoned by her family to grow up by herself. While she is alone for a lot of her life, she does have community found in Jumpin’ and his wife, Mabel, who she trades with for food and other necessities. She also learns how to read from another local who lived in town. But this book follows her resiliency and intelligent bravery as she survives in the wild.
Nature is a character in the story. Kya learns a lot of life through what she observes in nature and how it interacts with her and itself. The author also adds a lot of descriptive language, making nature more anthropomorphic. Kya also feels more connected to nature than she does the people in her world, which highlights her lonely and alone feelings.
There is also a murder mystery. The book jumps back and forth in time through about half the book before the two timelines meet to play out the story. One timeline is Kya’s life as she is abandoned and then figures out how to survive. The other timeline begins by uncovering the dead body of a kind of golden boy of the local town. The plot twists and turns until all is revealed finally in the end.
The story is beautiful, haunting, and heartbreaking. There are trigger warnings of sexual assault and abuse throughout the book. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good murder mystery with a plot twist, as well as books that wrestle with prejudice and survival in harsh circumstances. There is also a friends to lovers romance, but it is not really the main story, but it does play a part in the plot.