DEEP 'BLUE SEA' Rogers imagines a young girl's struggle to cope with her mother's mysterious disappearance in 1960's New England

Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea

One day, Florine Gilham’s beautiful young mother is there, speeding from her waitressing shifts at the local lobster shack to the rocky Maine beach in her old Ford coupe and slow-dancing to Elvis records with Florine’s father in the living room. The next day, she’s gone — vanished in the middle of what was supposed to be a quick weekend trip to a nearby harbor town. Because it’s New England in 1963, there aren’t any national database searches or CSI forensics, just a handful of stymied local police, a bereft husband, and a 12-year-old girl whose idyllic life has suddenly been scraped away. Rogers’ debut sometimes feels less like a novel than a treatment for the kind of bittersweet coming-of-age movies (see: Stand By Me, The Last Picture Show) that don’t get made much anymore. And Florine — rendered first-person in confiding, colloquial prose — isn’t always lovable; she’s obstinate and angry and teenager-rude. But Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea makes her real. B+