In this debut coming-of-age novel, Florine Gilham, the young daughter of a lobsterman and his free-spirited wife, learns the difficult lesson that life is mostly "getting on with it."
It is the summer of 1963 on The Point, an isolated Maine fishing village. Florine will soon begin seventh grade. Leeman, her father, works his boat. Carlie, her adored mother, waits tables at the Lobster Shack. It's a summer like any other, until Carlie disappears while vacationing. Carlie loves her husband, but he prefers the sea to traveling, and so Carlie's annual getaway with her best friend, Patty, has become a tradition. Now, with Leeman able to climb out of the bottle only long enough to provide confused support, Florine rages against the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. Florine's troubles grow when Stella, a clerk in the local general store and her father's high school sweetheart, moves to comfort Leeman. Florine responds angrily, so much so that her father agrees to let her live with Grand, her grandmother and beloved community matriarch. Florine also has Buddy, Glen and Dottie, her adventurous contemporaries. The novel chronicles Florine's life from prepubescence through high school, and her transformation from gangling precocious girl to a sexually aware, troubled young woman. Gradually, Florine learns about her mother's abusive childhood, her father's tortured anguish over her disappearance and his profound sense of helplessness. It is only Grand's presence, her uncritical and accepting love, that provide Florine the refuge she needs to keep her sanity. Grand is beautifully, empathetically, realistically drawn. Florine is self-aware, compassionately sketched with a perceptive measure of immaturity as she stumbles toward reconciliation with the world only to again be derailed by tragedy. Rogers writes with a superb sense of place and period, delving deftly into true-to-life responses to unexplained loss. The novel's resolution is deeply moving, albeit one perhaps better served by an altered sequence of events.
A realistic and resonate coming-of-age novel, chronicling a journey from grief to acceptance.