Kya Clark, known by some locals as the “Marsh Girl,” grew up in a swamp. And that makes her, well, “swamp trash” as far as most folks in the North Carolina coastal community of Barkley Cove are concerned.
One by one, starting with her mother, Kya’s family members all ran off to escape Kya’s intolerable father. And then he ran off, too.
Though she’s been virtually alone from the time she was 6, Kya can never quite stifle her need for human connection. Of course, connecting with people is not easy for a girl living by her lonesome in a swamp. But the one thing she can embrace is the wild, natural world around her. And she tries to understand every relationship through her experience with nature, which causes her to have an unsettling effect on almost all the people she interacts with.
The main exception is Tate Walker, a local boy who befriends her as she turns from child to teenager. Kya’s wildness is beautiful to him, and he compassionately teaches her to read. The pair understand each other because of their mutual appreciation for the marsh, but Kya’s upbringing has put her on a collision course with polite society.
That collision effectively blows up when a former star quarterback and town hot shot named Chase Andrews turns up dead in the marsh. Inconclusive evidence and a romantic run-in are all the townspeople need to start pointing fingers.
And the Marsh Girl is everyone’s top suspect.