Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea
By Morgan Callan Rogers
(Viking Books, Hardcover, 9780670023400, 308pp.)
Publication Date: January 19, 2012
List Price: $26.95*
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A captivating debut, introducing a spirited young heroine coming of age in coastal Maine during the early 1960s.
When her mother disappears during a weekend trip, Florine Gilham's idyllic childhood is turned upside down. Until then she'd been blissfully insulated by the rhythms of family life in small town Maine: watching from the granite cliffs above the sea for her father's lobster boat to come into port, making bread with her grandmother, and infiltrating the summer tourist camps with her friends. But with her mother gone, the heart falls out of Florine's life and she and her father are isolated as they struggle to manage their loss.
Both sustained and challenged by the advice and expectations of her family and neighbors, Florine grows up with her spirit intact. And when her father's past comes to call, she must accept that life won't ever be the same while keeping her mother vivid in her memories. With Fannie Flagg's humor and Elizabeth Stroud's sense of place, this debut is an extraordinary snapshot of a bygone America through the eyes of an inspiring girl blazing her own path to womanhood.
“Rendered first-person in confiding, colloquial prose . . . [like] the bittersweet coming-of-age movies (see: Stand By Me, The Last Picture Show) that don't get made much anymore." —Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
“Deeply moving . . . Callan Rogers writes with a superb sense of place and period, delving deftly into true-to-life responses to unexplained loss . . . A realistic and resonant coming-of-age novel.” —Kirkus
“Callan Rogers ’ astonishing debut brilliantly illuminates deep loss, impossible longing, and our yearning to hold onto love no matter what, all told in the lake-clear voice of one remarkable young heroine. So rapturously moving, I could barely bring myself to close the final page.” —Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You
“Rich in landscape and character, with regional dialect and phrases that will tip many mouths into grins.” —Annie Bostrom, Booklist
“Refreshing . . . A piercingly knowing portrait of the complicated thoughts and actions of a maturing teenage girl . . . with a one-of-a-kind setting and dialect straight from the shore.” —David Svenson, Portland Monthly
“Incredibly detailed, rich and real…You will find yourself drawn into this book quickly and fiercely.” —Katy England, The Maine Edge
“The young, prickly, and thoroughly endearing narrator of Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea got to me in a big way. Not since Ellen Foster have I rooted so hard for a fictional girl, whose losses, while deep and abiding, show us what she’s made of. I loved spending time with Florine, and I’m still thinking about her. She will break your heart and make you glad she did.” —Monica Wood, author of Any Bitter Thing
“At once very personal and very broad in theme and atmosphere, Red Ruby Heart is a lovely novel, long on heart. Morgan Callan Rogers has a confident, almost playful prose style, and she bears down on this story from the first paragraph, never faltering in her mission to convey her characters and their painful paths with honesty, compassion, and humor.” —Susanna Daniel, author of Stiltsville
“Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea spun me deep inside its feisty, honest heroine, Florine. A classic story of paradise lost, this is a beautiful and wise coming-of-age story set on the Maine coast, where grief—harsh as the granite shoreline—is suffered, solaced and survived. I love this book, with its fresh-baked bread, stars and waves, wind-worn houses, mysteries and truths. A wonderful first novel.” —Beth Powning, author of The Sea Captain's Wife
“A heartwarming ‘coming-of-age-story’ set in what is arguably the continent’s most beautiful location.” —Ann La Farge, Hudson Valley News
“Readers who enjoy coming-of-age tales and small-town stories will appreciate this well-crafted debut novel that tugs at the heart without falling into sentimentality.” —Jan Blodgett, Library Journal
“It’s the Maine voices that carry this book and make it an authentic page turner: fishermen and the women who love them, as well as a younger generation of girls and boys on the coast who skip town as soon as they get their diplomas. Rogers captures this era of Elvis records and small-town Maine fishing life so vividly that you may wish you’d grown up here.” —Susan Conley, Down East
“I read it straight through and flipped over it. Florine's voice is pitch perfect throughout, and the story is both poignant and heart-warming. I love the three-dimensionality of the characters—no pure bad guys or good guys. I love all the Maine stuff, the distinctions between the summer people and the year-rounders of course rang bells. Loved Grand, loved the father, was so happy and relieved that in the middle of all that loss, Bud and Florine found each other. Oh, and I just loved the food: bread, apple pie, mac and cheese, beef stroganoff, Stella's ‘gourmet’ cooking—both mouthwatering in the descriptions and adding another layer to the you-are-what-you-eat characters. Please convey to the author my profound admiration and my delight that she's a fellow Mainer. And to you, huge thanks for introducing me to such a writer. I'll look forward to her next.” —Mameve Medwed, author of Of Men and Their Mothers