Claire Of The Sea Life / Edwidge Danticat

In this compact novel, Danticat introduces the reader to Villa Rosa, a settlement within greater Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The story centers around Claire Limyé Lanmé—Claire of the Sea Light, a child celebrating her seventh birthday. Claire is a “revenan”, a child who has entered the world just her mother was leaving it. Her father, Nozias, is a fisherman who has struggled to provide for his child as a single parent. For some time, in the hope of bettering her life, Nozias has considered offering his daughter to Gaëlle, a local shopkeeper. Three years previously, the shopkeeper’s only daughter was killed in a traffic accident. When Nozias made such a proposal on Claire’s sixth birthday, the shopkeeper refused to take the girl. But one year later, Gaëlle decides to go ahead and accept the child. This novel centers on the night this decision is made, and the back-story leading up to it. But Danticat also weaves into the mix individual stories of people connected to either Claire or her parents. By doing so, the author paints a broader portrait of the community itself. It is a place where poverty runs deep and gang violence is a constant threat. Even so, neighbors support neighbors, and share what little they have whenever tragedy strikes. Told without a wasted word, the author has created a lyrical modern day folk tale set beside the sea in Villa Rosa, presenting the joy and heartbreak of ordinary life there.

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