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Synopsis

From the best-selling author of Brother, I’m Dying and The Dew Breaker: a stunning new work of fiction that brings us deep into the intertwined lives of a small seaside town where a little girl, the daughter of a fisherman, has gone missing.

Claire Limyè Lanmè—Claire of the Sea Light—is an enchanting child born into love and tragedy in Ville Rose, Haiti. Claire’s mother died in childbirth, and on each of her birthdays Claire is taken by her father, Nozias, to visit her mother’s grave. Nozias wonders if he should give away his young daughter to a local shopkeeper, who lost a child of her own, so that Claire can have a better life.

But on the night of Claire’s seventh birthday, when at last he makes the wrenching decision to do so, she disappears. As Nozias and others look for her, painful secrets, haunting memories, and startling truths are unearthed among the community of men and women whose individual stories connect to Claire, to her parents, and to the town itself. Told with piercing lyricism and the economy of a fable, Claire of the Sea Light is a tightly woven, breathtaking tapestry that explores what it means to be a parent, child, neighbor, lover, and friend, while revealing the mysterious bonds we share with the natural world and with one another. Embracing the magic and heartbreak of ordinary life, it is Edwidge Danticat’s most spellbinding, astonishing book yet.

This edition includes a reading group guide. 

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Claire of the Sea Light
Average rating
3.7 / 5
January 24th, 2014
I purchased Claire of the Sea Light because I'd never read a novel set in Haiti. I was intrigued with the topic and setting because I've supported an orphanage in Port-Au-Prince since the January 2010 earthquake and was mentally marking the 4th anniversary of this tragic event. The writing is powerfully evocative of both the country's abject poverty within a setting of shimmering beauty, and a vibrant pulse of humanity and raw life. The actual plot concerning Nozias' decision to give Claire away, and her disappearance on the evening of her seventh birthday amidst the aftermath of a local tragedy, is more of a literary device than a compelling narrative in itself. It contributes suspense, but in the end, it's not the real story. It is a connecting thread which gives the author opportunity to explore a father's heart, and tell the stories of the interconnected people in this community. I was left with an impression of the tragedy and desperation of poverty but also of hard work, resourcefulness and the warm love the Haitian people have for each other and their country. The language, interspersed with bits of translated Haitian Creole, is at times almost dreamy, evocative of a sun-soaked paradise, but it's too raw to be sentimental. I felt like I'd been on a trip to rural Haiti. I recommend this book.
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