Friday, September 21, 2012
Review & Giveaway: The Harbormaster's Daughter by Heidi Jon Schmidt
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by NAL Trade
ISBN: 0451237870 (ISBN13: 9780451237873)
Born out of wedlock, Vita is the product of the town’s two very different cultures: the hardworking fishing families of Portuguese descent and the "washashores” from the mainland who’ve drifted to the coast for its beauty. At sixteen, Vita is shy and isolated, estranged from her father and bullied at school, but she is determined to come out of herself, step by step.
When the shocking details of her past surface suddenly, Vita feels utterly betrayed by those closest to her, and the fraught tension between Oyster Creek’s two cultures comes to a head. LaRee must ask hard questions about herself as a mother, while Vita turns to unexpected avenues to find meaning and discovers that the truth is almost never found in black and white . . . .
My thoughts:The Harbormaster's Daughter is an interesting character driven novel. Vita, somewhat different who comes from both sides of the population, is the book's main focus. Oyster Creek consists of the practical, local Portuguese families and the more "dilettantish " transplants. I grew up in a small seaside town in MA with a large summer population. When I was a kid there was definitely a feel of "townies" vs "summer bums". Schmidt has this attitude and sense of place down to perfection. It took me vividly back to my childhood.
Schmidt explores the effects of murder on a child's upbringing, the aftermath and attitudes of the locals towards that child. Even as a young child, Vita never felt like she fit in, try as she might. LaRee had tried so hard to make Vita's life normal that she almost did Vita an injustice in not giving her skills in coping with life. We then watch as teenager Vita struggles with her identity, feeling that she doesn't belong to either community. This is much more than just a coming of age novel.
There is also the theme of cultural identity among the fishermen and their families. For generations, this is how they made their living. There was never a question that the hard work of fishing would provide for families but now with the fish nearly depleted and government regulations hampering the fishermen at every turn, they have had to find other means of employment. I found this interesting social commentary so easy to relate to in today's economy and way of life.
I loved Schmidt's style of character development; it brought all the characters vividly to life. I felt that I liked and understood every character in the book. Of course, some were more likable than others. Overall, a very enjoyable book, well paced with a most satisfying ending. 4****
Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Nal Trade in exchange for my honest opinion.
Through the generosity of Nal/Penguin I can give away one copy of the book. Open to US only and
the deadline to enter is September 29th at 5 PM (est).
Bonus entries are as follows:
+4 for following on Networked blogs. Just remind me under what name.
+3 for blogging (sidebar is fine) or tweeting about the giveaway. Valid only if posted at least 2 days before deadline. Leave me a link, please.
If you cannot comment you can still enter by sending me an e mail with The Harbormaster's Daughter in the subject line. Include your name and e mail and send to florida982002[at]yahoo.com