Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea is a coming of age story set in the early 1960s by Morgan Callan Rogers.
The story is narrated by a teenage girl, Florine, whose mother Carlie disappeared on a weekend away. Florine and her father, a lobster-fisherman, struggle to deal with the aftermath of Carlie’s disappearance, although Florine’s grandmother, friends and community are a comfort to her as time passes with no sign of Carlie.
Florine’s friendship group includes Dottie, who loves to eat and bowl, Bud, who Florine intends to marry one day and Glen, whose father comments, “He’s a little thick in the head, sometimes,” after the foursome almost burn down one of the summer family’s fishing cottages the year they are 12.
When Florine’s father hooks up with an old girlfriend who Florine detests, she moves over the road to stay with her grandmother, Grand. Grand is a generous, loving character who keeps Florine on the straight and narrow. She teaches Florine to bake bread, knit, and make traditional Maine Christmas wreaths, all of which are vital to their family finances.
As they grow up, Bud finds himself a girlfriend, leaving Florine behind. Florine deals with the change to their relationship gracefully, although she remains certain that one day she and Bud will be together forever.
Florine’s voice and the voice of the other characters from their fishing village in Maine are gorgeous. Carlie haunts the book and Florine’s love for her mother is as solid and real as anything else in this book. Florine’s strength of character and attitude are amusing and inspirational.
I believe this author has written a sequel to Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea which I am looking forward to reading, as I can’t wait to find out what happens to this group of characters as adults.