Morgan Callan Rogers’ return to The Point was as inevitable as it is welcome. The Point is the small, isolated community on the coast of Maine that was the setting for Rogers’ finely tuned first novel, “Ruby Red Heart in a Cold Blue Sea,” a painful coming-of-age tale of Florine Gilham, a story driven by the disappearance of her free-spirited mother, Carlie, the summer Florine was 12. Its sequel and the Maine author’s second novel, “Written on My Heart” picks up where the first left off. It opens with Florine now 19 and pregnant, the day before her wedding to Bud Warner, a boy she grew up with and knew with certainty she would one day marry.

Florine is as spunky as ever in “Written on My Heart,” willful and strong and devoted to those she loves. But she also remains quietly disturbed by the resonant echoes of the ruins of her childhood caused by the physical loss of her mother, and the emotional loss of her father after Carlie disappeared without a trace. A deep psychic undertow within Florine runs throughout the story, one that seems to forever threaten the safety of a world she is seeking to create for herself as wife and mother, neighbor and friend, knowing at the same time that loved ones can always unexpectedly leave you.

Florine and Bud start out happy, joyfully in love with one another and with Arlee, their baby daughter. Rogers wonderfully captures the sense of best friends in love, and the ease and tease of exploring such a life together. But different visions for the future threaten the cocoon that Florine wants to spin for herself and her family on The Point, compounded by Bud’s gradual slide into unhappiness in feeling trapped. Their growing estrangement is aggravated by Bud’s drinking bouts, which begin to unstitch the seams of their lives.

The haunting, unresolved question of what happened to Florine’s mother the weekend she vanished years before inevitably rises like a specter to become a central element in “Written on My Heart.” The mystery reasserts itself with the arrival of segments of love letters that appear to have been written to Carlie. Florine finds each unsigned with no return address, presenting themselves as tormenting shards of a secret life that her mother must have led.

As with her first novel, “Written on My Heart” is richly peopled with memorable characters, picking up the stories of many who were fully drawn in “Ruby Red Heart,” but also fleshing out portraits of three or four who were given only cursory introductions before. The continuing sagas of all are full of surprises and pathos, adding to the poignancy of the sequel.

“Written on My Heart” doesn’t have the same magnetic allure of the loss of innocence that “Ruby Red Heart” possessed. But it is unfailing in its honesty as a portrait of what life holds after the coming of age, when there is life left to live.

I might quibble over how the author resolves the mystery of what happened to Florine’s mother as being less than organic to the structure of the story, but I am still awed by Morgan Callan Rogers’ talents as a creator of wonderfully drawn characters, as a naturally gifted writer and a superb storyteller.

Frank O Smith is a Maine writer and ghostwriter whose novel, “Dream Singer,” was named a Notable Book of the Year in Literary Fiction in 2014 by “Shelf Unbound,” and was also a finalist for the Bellwether Prize, created by best-selling novelist Barbara Kingsolver. Smith can be reached via his website:

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