Edwidge Danticat wrote Wadley’s story for Girl Rising, helping to bring the inspiring Haiti set chapter of the film to life, and has released a new project with a young girl at the center. Edwidge’s project, a novel titled _Claire of the Sea Light, was released on August 27th. This work of fiction brings us deep into the intertwined lives of a small seaside town in Haiti where a little girl, the daughter of a fisherman, has gone missing. Edwidge tells us about how Claire, her novel’s protagonist, is not so different than Girl Rising’s Wadley. _


This past spring, Girl Rising, a documentary I had contributed to, was screened in theaters all around the United States and later on CNN. The film told the stories of nine girls in nine different countries, all fighting to get an education.
Each girl was paired with a writer from her country and I had the honor of being paired with Wadley, an eight-year-old girl from Port-au-Prince. Wadley had survived the devastation of the 2010 earthquake along with her family, and she had lived in a tent city for weeks.
When I traveled to Haiti to meet her, I found a sweet and intelligent  girl, who over time gradually began to talk to me. And I, in turn, despite the hardship she had suffered, loved hearing Wadley’s stories. I have an eight-year-old daughter, Mira, and I know how both pensive and dreamy eight-year-olds can be. In Wadley, I saw not only a great deal of both of Mira and her sister Leila, but also some of myself.
I grew up in an extended family that was a lot like Wadley’s, where family meant not just blood relatives, but also neighbors and friends. Wadley is lucky to have an extraordinary family, people who love her deeply and want to see her have a bright future. 
The same can be said of Claire Limyè Lanmè, the main character in my new work of fiction, Claire of the Sea Light. Claire’s mother dies in childbirth and when Claire is seven years old, her fisherman father, hoping to give her a better life, faces the heartwrenching decision of whether or not to give her away to someone else. Claire’s potential new mother  has known Claire since the day she was born, but she is also  wounded, a person full of secrets, a person who has also lost a child of her own.  She is one of many people in this one small Haitian town whose lives Claire enters in and out of on her way to having her fate decided, over the course of the evening that frames the book.  I feel blessed to have worked on both Girl Rising and Claire of the Sea Light at around the same time. Among the many things that the documentary and the book—a work of fiction—have in common is that  they both try to tell a larger story via the life of one girl.  In Girl Rising the message is that girls must receive their community’s (one might argue their world’s) support in getting an education. One can also not ignore the effect that  global economic policies, which destroy the lives and financial independence of poor people in the developing world, have in making it nearly impossible for them to feed, nurture and educate both their boys and girls. 
In Claire’s case, I was writing something from my imagination; it was fiction, and things are a lot more nuanced. The message—if there is one—is for the reader to determine. In the case of the amazing girls in Girl Rising, things were all too real. And the message too was super real, we MUST educate our girls. Working on both projects was equally moving. When I see or talk to Wadley or her family members now, I feel as though I had known them my whole life. And when I look at the cover of Claire of the Sea Light, my face always lights up because the cover girl is my daughter Mira.
 And though all these girls are so different, connecting them does not feel like too much of a stretch to me. Because an extra benefit of writing a story like Claire’s is to get rid of my own worst fears. What if this was my daughter? I would ask myself as I was writing the book. What if I had to face the choice her father faces? The difficult choices that the parents of all girls in Girl Rising face? What if Claire were my daughter? What if these other girls in the film were my daughters?
And then I’d remember that, in some way or other, every child is mine, and ours. Read the Washington Post review of Edwidge’s _Claire of the Sea Lighthttp://wapo.st/15x8GkS_