"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

02 November 2014

2014 Book Review #38: Claire of the Sea Light

I finished this book late last night...it helped that we are now on standard time instead of daylight savings time.....so, last night, when we set our clocks back an hour, I told my husband that I had an extra hour to read!!

This book was.....different.  It was VERY good....but...different.  The author was new to me and I liked the book so much that I may look for a couple of her other books because the titles sound intriguing.  In fact, that's why this book jumped out at me from the "new books" shelf at the town library......my youngest daughter is named "Claire" so the title grabbed my eye.  That, and the the fact that I rarely see fiction written by African American authors.  BUT....I jumped to conclusions based on her photo, because after looking up the author online, I discovered that she is actually Haitian-American.  Her writing is deep.....with many underlying themes. 

The "novel" is more like a series of short stories, yet every character in the book has connections to each other.


Claire Limye Lanme,(Claire of the Sea Light) is the 7 year old daughter of Nozias Faustin.  Her mother died giving birth to her. They live in the small village of Ville Rose, near Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.  Each year, on her birthday, her father takes her to her mother's graveside.

Nozias has been wondering if he should give his daughter away...to be raised by someone better equipped....specifically, a local shopkeeper who runs a fabric store, named Gaelle, who lost her own daughter in a horrible accident.  He wants Claire to have a better life.  Nozias is a fisherman, like most of the men in the village, and is often away from Claire for long periods of time.

On the night that Claire turns 7, he has made the decision to turn her over to Gaelle, but...she disappears! Nozias, and basically the entire town, hunt for her. And as they do so, haunting and painful memories come to the surface for many of the people in the community.  Each chapter is a different character's individual story that connect to Claire, her parents, and to the village itself.  What happens to the fisherman?  What happens to the mayor's son?  What is Gaelle's back story? Will they find Claire?? Or is she lost at sea?


This book is a little bit like a fable.  It is also like a few short stories in a novel.  Each chapter centers around a different character in the village, their back story, and the present.....Claire's birthday.  They all connect.  

I was fascinated by the character development and the description of Ville Rose, which is fictional town, about 20 miles south of the real city of Port-au-Prince.

I liked learning/reading some of the Creole......a lot of the words I could figure out based on bit of French I took way back in high school or from hearing my oldest daughter speak it. I liked, too, that the author explained the meaning of the various phrases/words.  It added to the flavor of the book, reading the words that the village people speak.

The book explores the topics of parent, friend, lover, child, neighbor.  It reveals the bond we have with nature and with one another in community.

I was finding myself turning page after page not wanting the story to end.  I couldn't put this book down!  There are parts that are profoundly sad.  And parts that are so full of life and love.

I highly recommend this book.

In my opinion, this book is  appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.


Melanie Lopata said...

Awesome, definitely trying this one next! The Lisa S book "Keep Quiet" was awwwwwwwwwwwwesome. I also love Karen White :)

Susanne said...

I'm not so much a short story fan so I don't know how much I would enjoy that style. But the actual story of the whole novel sounds interesting.