Martha's Reviews > The Harbormaster's Daughter

The Harbormaster's Daughter by Heidi Jon Schmidt
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Aug 30, 2012

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Read from August 23 to 30, 2012

Here was a book by a local author that sounded intriguing because it is based on real murder and all that leaked from the incident which rocked our little Cape Cod town several years ago. When I dug into my library copy I was a little bit worried that it would be a creative re-telling of the story with all of its sordidness--which I was ready to leave behind. But this really isn't a story about the murder. It's the story of a young girl who fate has treated both cruelly and kindly and the community in which she lives where two cultures seem to be at odds with each other. Vita is of both cultures, but really of neither. She doesn't feel like she belongs, and has grown into a shy teenager who feels happiest when she is acting at a small summer theater, entering into the lives of other people. The play they are rehearsing, The Tempest, is a wonderful echo of the events taking place in the town. And one thing I particularly liked is that Vita has just a bit part but she manages to find her star in that part as she begins to figure out the small community into which she was born and how she is not alone in her feelings of being different. There are some beautifully fleshed out characters in this novel, from the members of the theater troupe to the accepting and very funny wife of Vita's father, Franco, to LaRee, who took on the difficult task of mothering and protecting Vita after her mother was murdered. Here's one of my favorite lines from LaRee as she is trying to explain to Vita what truth is:
"It's not as easy as you might think, Vita," LaRee said. "Truth isn't a solid thing you can pass from one person to another. It's all rags and shards, like something you'd find washed up on the beach, and you pick it up and disentangle it from the weeds and look at it from every side and you begin to understand some piece of it. You kind of feel your way through." (p. 256)
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