Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What Will Martha Learn at the Beach?


Twelve-year-old Martha wants to be a writer when she grows up. What she never knew was that her shy classmate, Olive, also wanted to be a writer. She only finds out when Olive dies in an accident and her mother brings Martha a page from Olive’s journal. The page of secret thoughts brings with it many realizations for Martha, only one of which is that life is short and anything can happen to any of us at any time. When Martha heads to the Cape for their yearly trip she has no idea how many other changes are in store for her this summer. Being at the beach, with her eyes open, will have her noticing and experiencing things that will excite her, sadden her, worry her, and help her to grow. What is going on with her grandmother? Why is her dad so unhappy? Does she have her first crush, and does he like her back? Martha wants to be true to Olive and do right by her, but can she do it? Reading this realistic fictional book will make you think about your own life and how you want to live it! 

Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes is a deep book with lots to contemplate. Martha is a thinker and she analyzes what is going on around her. She is someone on the cusp of moving from childhood to the teenage years, and her experiences and thoughts reflect her age.  I think this book would be especially helpful for kids who have lost a classmate or kids who are on the brink of becoming teenagers themselves. I found the story to be touching and eye-opening. Martha is going through the same thought process that other kids like her are going through, and it's helpful for kids to know that they aren’t alone in their thoughts about their first crush, betrayals, and new grown-up worries. I especially liked how the beach was a backdrop for Martha. Through her experiences there she grew and reflected on her life. I always find that the beach helps me to think and clear my head, so I felt it was easy to relate to Martha. The book has some sadness, but through the story we are reminded that, although life has its ups and downs, it's important to appreciate each other, our differences, and to follow our heart. We can’t lose sight of what it important. I would recommend this book to kids in fourth grade through middle school because of the insights that Martha has and what she is going through. Also, although it didn’t bother me because I found it fit Martha’s emotions, there were a couple instances of mild bad language throughout the book (but it does go along with Martha’s up and down feelings throughout the book). It is a story that settled over me and wormed its way into my mind. I liked the slow way it made me think about life and to appreciate each day.

Has anyone else read Olive’s Ocean? Or have you read another book by Kevin Henkes? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Happy reading! ~ L

32 comments:

  1. I haven't read this one, but it sounds deep and very profound. I'll have to add it to my list. I do love a beach setting :)

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    1. Hi Meradeth- It is definitely deep and gives the reader a lot to think about. :) ~L

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  2. I love the sound of this one...I love the way you wrote about it!

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  3. Since my class (growing up) lost quite a few students, I think it's great that there are books like this. Death can really be hard for kids to handle.

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    1. Kelly- I agree that books like this are important. Kids have so many things to deal with and books can be such a help. :) ~L

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  4. It's great to have a book to help kids understand that what they're feeling is normal, and that they're not alone. Kudos to Kevin Henke for tackling a difficult subject, and doing it so well.

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  5. Love this one. Thanks for posting this`review.

    Nas

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    1. Nas- You are welcome! Thanks for stopping by. :) ~L

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  6. This sounds like a great book. I like the idea of it. And the cover. :D

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    1. Thanks, Erik! It is definitely a "thinking" book. The cover is interesting and unique! :) ~L

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  7. Wow, I love how you described the story. Any book that can do this: "made me think about life and to appreciate each day." is worth of a read for sure. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this book.

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    1. Laurel- It is important to be reminded to enjoy each day and to make the most of what we are given. This book does just that. :) ~L

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  8. I like the sound of a deep book, thanks for putting on radar

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    1. Brandi- You are welcome! Hope you get to read it and enjoy it. :) ~L

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  9. I haven't read this, but I'll add it to my wish list.

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  10. Actually, I haven't read this book by Kevin Henkes, but it sounds like a very interesting story. I just came back from the beach and I know just how comtemplative it came make one feel. Thanks for sharing this with everyone.

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    1. Alex- The beach always makes me think a lot too. I enjoy it and is peaceful, but something about all that space has me lost in thought. :) ~L

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  11. A girl wanting to be a writer caught my attention straight away. The name 'Olive' arrested me the second time. Will definitely read this. It's haunting losing a friend and discovering her dreams and what-might-have-beens. Again: will definitely read this. Great review!

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    1. Claudine- I hope you enjoy this one! It is deep and thoughtful. I found the name Olive intriguing too. Martha has a lot of things to think about as she transitions from childhood to the teen years. Thanks for stopping in! :) ~L

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  12. Never heard of this before, but it sounds sweet :) Glad you enjoyed it so much! Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts about it :) loved your review.

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    1. Thanks, Carina! So glad you enjoyed the review. It is always nice to have you visit. :) ~L

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  13. With a cover that doesn't say pick me up I may well have passed this one by but given your review this is definitely a book I'd read.

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    1. Petty- Glad the review was helpful! Covers can be so tricky- but we do tend to judge books by them. :) ~L

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  14. This sounds like a book the 12 year old eighth grade granddaughter I live with would love. Those growing up years are very emotional, even without the death of a close friend. I will check it out for her. I do love the name Martha, it was my beloved Mother's name.

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    1. Anna Maria- I hope your granddaughter will enjoy this one. I bet she will also like the connection to her great grandmother (I know I would). :) ~L

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  15. Wow. This sounds good but SO sad! I don't know if I could read it without crying. Still, I've heard wonderful things about it, so maybe I should give it a try.

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    1. Caryn- It is sad, but it is easy to connect to Martha and see things through her eyes. She does so much thinking and growing up that she really helped to remind me to enjoy each day. If you decide to read it I hope you enjoy it! :) ~L

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  16. Nice review. Interesting book. Playing on the emotions of a character can be quite tricky, but the author seems to do it well.

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    1. Thanks, Donna! It is an interesting book and the author does a nice job with the story and our emotions. :) ~L

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