“Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea” is a finely nuanced coming-of-age story. It tells of Florine Gilham’s journey through adolescence living on The Point, a close-knit collection of houses and families on a stretch of rural Maine coast.

Adolescence is painful enough, but Florine’s is especially so in that she must endure the agony of complicated friendships, the embarrassment of a maturing body and the flush of first love and sexual desire set against the painful, enduring mystery of her mother’s disappearance during the summer when she was 12.

“Red Ruby Heart” is Morgan Callan Rogers’ debut novel. She well knows the rhythm and the language, the humor and the gossip of life in such a locale, having grown up in Maine in a place very much like The Point.

But the merits of this book rest on far more than local color — although there is plenty of that. The writer guides the reader through the landscape of Florine’s intensely public and sorrowfully private worlds with such deftness, there is a sense at times that you should look away.

Florine has not yet advanced far enough into adolescence to feel anything but love and adoration for Carlie, her mother and a popular waitress at the Lobster Shack. “I always called her Carlie, never mother, mom, mommy, mum or ma,” Florine tells us early on. Her mother’s disappearance when she makes her annual trip to Crow’s Nest Harbor with her friend Patti leaves an ache so deep, it resonates everywhere in her life.

At one point in a fit of rage, Florine throws into the sea one of her grandmother’s prized possessions – a ruby red glass heart given to her by her dead husband as a wedding present – begging the world to give Carlie back to her.

“Red Ruby Heart” is filled with wonderful characters. There’s Daddy – Leeman Gilham, whose family home is the oldest on The Point. He is measurably complex: A lobsterman who’s taciturn and tender at once, who aches from the loss of Carlie, but also for the pain he sees his daughter suffer daily.

There’s Grand, Daddy’s mother and Florine’s grandmother, who lives across the road in the house Leeman grew up in. Grand is unique unto herself – distinctly no stereotype, but everyone should be so blessed as to have a grandmother like her. She is, in many ways, the heart and soul of The Point.

And there’s reed-thin Stella with the horrible scar down her face, a constant reminder to her and everyone that she was the lone survivor of a car accident that killed six friends.

Stella dated Leeman off and on until Carlie showed up on The Point from Massachusetts. She lives alone above the general store, where she manages the deli counter, but has never stopped loving Leeman, nor hoping one day she’ll have him.

Then there’s Dottie, Florine’s best friend – big-boned and funny and blunt and always there for her. And of course Bud and Glen, who complete the foursome of childhood friends, the nexus of Florine’s life.

“Red Ruby Heart” follows Florine’s coming of age all the way through high school. As with the journey all adolescents are forced to endure, the goal is to somehow survive.

If you’re lucky, you get to glimpse what is truly important in your life, or should be. And you commit yourself to going after it with all your heart.

We can all take a lesson from Florine. And be grateful for the care and talent Morgan Callan Rogers devoted to bringing her so richly to life.

Frank O Smith is a Maine writer and freelancer whose novel, “Dream Singer,” was a finalist for the Bellwether Prize.