Olive's Ocean. Kevin Henkes. 2003. HarperCollins. 224 pages.
"Are you Martha Boyle?"
"You don't know me," said the woman at the door. "Olive Barstow was my daughter. I was her mother."
Who was Olive? That was a question difficult to answer in life, and it becomes even more difficult in death. At least for Martha, the heroine of Kevin Henkes' Olive's Ocean. So who was she? She was a classmate of Martha's. But. She was invisible. No one paid any attention to her at all. Well, except for a few who picked on her now and then. She wasn't worth anyone's time or notice. A nobody. What happened to Olive? She was hit by a car while riding her bicycle.
Martha was surprised to find Mrs. Barstow at the door. She comes bearing a page from Olive's journal. It seems that while Martha didn't notice Olive all that much, Olive noticed Martha. She wrote, "I hope I get to know Martha Boyle next year (or this summer). I hope that we can be friends. That is my biggest hope. She is the nicest person in my whole entire class." Of course, the journal entry says much more than that. It shows Martha that Olive was a real person with hopes and dreams and fears, a person who in many ways is just like her.
This note changes Martha. It changes how she sees herself in a way. It makes her a bit more introspective and thoughtful. As Martha prepares to go on her family vacation to the ocean, many things are on her mind. Can she find peace by the ocean? by spending time with her grandmother? by spending time with the cute boy next door?
It's a summer of change for Martha. No doubt about that!
I'm not a big fan of the cover. I think it's taken me this many years to read it--despite it being a Newbery Honor book--because the cover just didn't do much for me. I do think the book is worth reading by the way!
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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