By Edwidge Danticat
Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95, 238 pages
Danticat’s Claire of the Sea Light reads like several mini-stories around Claire, a girl turning seven with lots of unanswered questions surrounding her life. The story happens in Ville Rose, Haiti, a small, poor town on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Claire’s mother died in childbirth and Nozias, her fisherman husband, is left to care for Claire. Nozias struggles with the decision to give his daughter to a local shopkeeper, who lost her husband and child. Claire could have a better life but he will lose the only link to his dead wife. On the eve of Claire’s seventh birthday, the shopkeeper tells Nozias that tonight is the night she must take Claire. Once Claire overhears this fact, she disappears. As all the townspeople are looking for Claire, the reader learns of an entire cast of characters in the small fishing village. Everyone has secrets, shame and memories that revisit them as they search for Claire.
Claire of the Sea Light gives the reader a glimpse of small-town Haitian life while introducing the reader to an interesting cast of characters. The reader will identify with the common struggles presented in the story and the anguish of a father giving up a child. Danticat writes with emotion and detail that sucks the reader in to a tale that is both whimsical and honest.
Reviewed by Seniye Groff