Sunday, May 20, 2012

"The Wonder Years" Meets "Stand By Me" in "Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea"

This book is the complete package; sorrowful, humorous, inspiring, dark and filled with love. I believe that this is Morgan Rogers’ first novel and it couldn’t be better. She has already been compared to Fannie Flagg and Elizabeth Stroud but I will go out on a limb and say that she is better!

Florine Gilham is an only child living in a coastal village in Maine during the 1960s. She has a motley crew of friends who also grew up on “The Point” with whom she gets into trouble, falls into love, and leans on in times of need. When Florine’s mother goes missing, Florine’s entire world is thrown upside down. Florine and her father disagree about the grieving process which further alienates her from what is left of her family. She moves in with her paternal grandmother where she finds the love and acceptance that she craves. Sadly, her relationship with loss and grief is not done with Florine or her family.

When trying to explain this novel to others, I describe it as “The Wonder Years” meets “Stand By Me”. It captures all of the hope, security, and love of the 1950s and 1960s while always hinting at the changing times and future hardships. The setting of coastal Maine is perfect as Rogers compares the simple lives of the year-round residents with the glamorous lifestyle of the seasonal visitors. In doing so, she investigates issues of class, familial relationships, and the meaning of home. Her characters are wonderfully dynamic while remaining real. At times you disagree with their stances, dislike their attitudes, and become angry with their choices. Yet, you can’t help but love them. When you come to the last page, I’m certain you’ll be as sad as I was to have to say goodbye to the characters and The Point. You’ll want to re-read it all over again...


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