It is the seventh birthday of Claire Limye Lanme Faustin whose name means "Claire of the Sea Light" in Creole. Her birthday is also a day of death sin...moreIt is the seventh birthday of Claire Limye Lanme Faustin whose name means "Claire of the Sea Light" in Creole. Her birthday is also a day of death since Claire's mother died in childbirth, and her father brings her to the cemetery every year. On the morning of her seventh birthday, a huge wave overturned a fishing boat, and her father's good friend was lost in the sea.
On her birthday, Claire's impoverished father has been asking Madame Gaelle, a wealthy widow who is mourning her young daughter's death, to adopt Claire so she could have a better life. This year, Madame Gaelle agreed, and Claire ran away. Before returning to Claire's seventh birthday in the last chapter, the book then weaves in stories about other residents of Ville Rose, a Haitian seaside village. Some of the stories are about poverty, gang violence, corrupt police, parenting, and terrible personal loss. The book also shows the spirit of the people where struggling villagers help each other.
The sea is also a character with a split personality. "The sea was both hostile and docile, the ultimate trickster....You could scatter both ashes and flowers in it. You could take as much as you wanted from it. But it too could take back. You could make love in it and you could surrender to it, and oddly enough, surrendering at sea felt somewhat like surrendering on land, taking a deep breath and simply letting go. You could just as easily lie down in the sea as you might in the woods, and simply fall asleep."
Claire seems to be a hope for the future, a lovely young girl running on the beach. She has intelligence and sensitivity toward others. During her pregnancy, Claire's mother thought of the name "Claire of the Sea Light" when she saw flickering flashlights from an abandoned lighthouse. The light motif is used throughout the book--lights paying tribute to a drowned fisherman, stars in the sky, lightening from a storm, flickering flashlights, bonfires, and the lights of the people searching for Claire.
Edwidge Danticat's writing, sprinkled with Creole, is gorgeous. The book has interesting characters whose problems will haunt the reader. It has its dark moments, but the book also shows love, humor, and hope for the next generation. I look foreward to reading more by this author.(less)
To help Katherine's relationship with her three children, she planned a summer sailing vacation in the Caribbean. But the trip took a tragic turn. Wou...moreTo help Katherine's relationship with her three children, she planned a summer sailing vacation in the Caribbean. But the trip took a tragic turn. Would they get back to civilization alive?
This is a fast-paced mystery-thriller. Although it's not deep, it's an entertaining page-turner.(less)
As an only child in Antigua, Annie John had a close relationship with her parents, especially her mother. When she becomes an adolescent, she is at th...moreAs an only child in Antigua, Annie John had a close relationship with her parents, especially her mother. When she becomes an adolescent, she is at the top of her class, but she rebels outside the classroom. She and her mother are in a love/hate relationship in this coming-of-age book. It's a very confusing time emotionally for Annie as she goes through adolescence and breaks away from her parents.
Jamaica Kincaid writes beautifully. I especially enjoyed the local color--the descriptions of the food, the island, the school, and the native healers. Coming-of-age is a universal condition, but this author told it in a very creative way.(less)