Posted by : Halima Khait Monday, August 10, 2015
For those who missed my Instagram and Facebook posts last week about Edwidge Danticat's novel, Claire of the Sea Light, for real, do yourself a favor and pick this book up. Danticat is seriously becoming one of my favorite authors based on the skill and subtlety she uses to weave a story together. Krik! Krak! is still my favorite example of this because I love short stories, but this latest read is a close second.
The story takes place in a small Haitian town, Ville Rose. And really, it's not just one story, Danticat relays the very personal, defining moments of a handful of the town's adults. They're all from different walks of life, so although the reader sees them interact with each other, it's in a very familiar way, the way many of us interact with each other - we know what happened in someone's life but we don't truly grasp their struggle. And because we don't truly understand this, sometimes we don't give a second thought to gossiping about them or pitying them or being cruel.
But the truly nonsensical part comes into play in the way we handle exposing children to "grown folks' business." We say and do things around them while hoping they don't notice or don't understand and that they will thereby remain unaffected. In a scene from the novel, a mom appeared as a guest on the local radio show where people told their stories of how they'd been wronged. She had her 10-year-old son in the studio with her, but the shows host had given him earphones in hopes of keeping him from hearing his mother's story. When his mother had finished airing her grievance, she removed her son's headphones and described the look on his face - a knowing look that betrayed he had heard it all.
And in my opinion, that's why the novel is named for the 7-year-old girl who's character didn't receive much more attention than any of the other characters. She was a child, adults talked around her and with the empathetic wisdom only a child can have, she pieced everything together and became something of a keeper of all stories. But it was her story that finally drew some of the town's adults outside of themselves and allowed them to rescue a fellow neighbor drowning in sorrow. Well you know, "Children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3)" and all that.
Anyway, that's all I'm giving you because like most of Danticat's work, it sounds simple, but you have to read it yourself to grasp the magnificence.
Until next time...
~ With ♥ from Halima