Portion of the Sea

Portion of the Sea
Christine Lemmon
Penmark, 2010

I won this in a Goodreads.com firstread's giveaway: after stumbling across a review of Lemmon's newest novel (Sand in my Eyes) at Luxury Reading, I saw this book listed as an ending-today firstreads giveaway. I entered on a whim and a hope, and actually won. Talk about huge smiles!

What originally caught my attention was the blurb on the back:  
A tale about a woman’s treasures – heart, soul, and mind –
and the struggle to keep them afloat.

It’s 1953 in sunny Florida, and 15-year-old Lydia Isleworth thinks her ultimate life goal, like that of every woman she knows, is to marry a respectable man and raise a family. Then, she meets an aspiring Hollywood actress Marlena DiPluma, who says four life-changing words—YOU CAN DO ANYTHING—and gives her a journal to read. The journal, written by Ava, a defiant girl of Lydia’s age, becomes the catalyst for Lydia’s awakening and new life adventure.

A story of parallel lives, Portion of the Sea follows two young women in passionate pursuit of their independence–Lydia during the cultural revolution of the 1950s and 1960s, and Ava during the late-1800s when a few pioneering American ladies set the course for women’s freedom.

In this stirring follow-up to her debut novel Sanibel Scribbles, Christine Lemmon offers a trademark story of how women can inspire each other to pursue bold dreams, make courageous choices, and reclaim lost treasures.
Knowing this was also about my much-beloved Gulf Coast, I couldn't wait to dig in and read. I was not disappointed.

Portion of the Sea is a double-story: Lydia's story is intricately interwoven with the story of Ava, and while sometimes this can be very confusing or slightly annoying, Lemmon executes it with success. There are clear delineations between the two girls and their stories, but they are similar enough that together they comprise a beautifully written portrait of a girl's discovering who she is and what she wants out of the world.

I saw myself in so much of the revelations and frustrations verbalized by both Lydia and Ava. I recognized their struggles, I empathized with their troubles and confusions, and I knew their joys. (Well, most of them). This is a book that I am going to, without a doubt, hand my friends, encourage my little cousins to read, and one day, share with my daughters. It's a powerful story, and beautifully written. Plus, it's about the magic of my Gulf.

Book provided by my personal library.

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