“‘Why, Tate, why?’ She mumbled into the sheets, ‘You were supposed to be different. To stay. You said you loved me, but there is no such thing. There is no one on Earth you can count on.’ From somewhere very deep, she made herself a promise never to trust or love anyone again.”

This quote occurs in Chapter 21, after Tate has abandoned Kya and Kya has given up waiting for Tate to return. She has taken to bed in despair, unable to tend to herself or even her beloved gulls. Tate is the first person outside of her family that Kya has loved, and the pain of losing her first love is made all the more intense by her isolation from the rest of the world. With Tate’s abandonment, Kya begins to lose faith in herself, in her own worthiness, and begins to blame herself for all the people who left her, questioning what she had done to drive them away. This illustrates that being abandoned damaged Kya’s relationship with herself. When Tate leaves, she also loses faith in love itself. She keeps the promise she makes to herself here for a long time, refusing to let anyone into her heart for many years.

“He stepped out of his boat and held out his hand to her—long tanned fingers, an open palm. She hesitated; touching someone meant giving part of herself away, a piece she never got back.”

This quote occurs in Chapter 23, just as Chase and Kya spend time together for the first time. Here, Kya expresses her early uncertainty about connecting physically with Chase. Her mistrust is built on the experience of being left by Tate, and before that, by her entire family. Alone in the world, longing for connection, Kya finds it difficult to resist Chase, even though she thinks better of it. Her impulse to stay away from him turns out to be well-founded. If Kya had been able to follow her instincts and resist Chase’s attentions early on, she would’ve avoided the anguish he causes her. But, as a result of the trauma of repeated abandonment, Kya ignores her own hesitation, overriding her own accurate sense that it will cost her too much to be with Chase. Too lonely to say no, Kya gives herself away, a choice she nearly pays for with her life.

“‘That’s what nobody understands about me.’ She raised her voice, ‘I never hated people. They hated me. They laughed at me. They left me. They harassed me. They attacked me. Well, it’s true; I learned to live without them. Without you. Without Ma! Or anybody!’”

This quote occurs in Chapter 55, after Kya has been declared not guilty of Chase’s murder and Jodie is trying to get her to open up to him. Here, Kya reveals to Jodie that not only has she been abandoned by her family and the man she loves, but she has also been regularly alienated from human society due the prejudice of the townspeople. Her lifelong isolation isn’t just a matter of circumstance or her own dislike of other people. Instead, Kya has removed herself from people who regularly rejected her. She has been alone for so long that even in the wake of the trauma of almost being put to death by the town, she doesn’t want anything to do with Jodie. In this moment, she can’t open her heart to anyone, even her beloved brother, because the pain of being rejected by everyone who has ever known her feels too tremendous.