|Newbery Honor Book|
Henkes, K. (2003). Olive's ocean. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.
Martha is packing for the family trip to visit Godbee (her grandma) on Cape Cod when she receives a journal entry from deceased Olive's mother. Martha's family, and the Manning boys on Cape Cod are the major characters in Olive's Ocean.
Martha wants to be a writer, even though her father is also an aspiring writer. Martha doesn't want to tell anyone because being like her dad is the last thing she wants. Olive's journal entry lists her hopes. She wants to go the real ocean, she wants to be a writer and she wants to become friends with Martha. Martha doesn't really even know Olive. Through all the family dynamics, Martha's teenage angst and new interest in the Manning boys, Martha must find herself.
Godbee talks Martha into sharing something that Godbee doesn't know about her each day of the trip. Godbee will do the same. Martha ends up confiding things that she never thought she would. Olive's journal entry still haunts Martha and she realizes that they have so many parallels in who they are. Martha and the older Manning boy seem to become a couple. Martha is secretly writing.
The older Manning boy wants to create a film. He has already shown Martha all his clips of the real life drama that goes on in his family. Unbeknown to Martha, he then films their first kiss. This is her first kiss and she is mortified. Later she has decides to get some ocean water in a bottler to take to Olive's mom. She sees "him" walking up the beach and doesn't want to see him. She goes in the ocean by herself and slips off the sandbar. She almost drowns. She doesn't care to save herself. She thinks about Olive and how she must have felt when she was dying after being hit by the car. Martha remembers all Olive's unfulfilled hopes.
Martha decides to save herself. She realizes that it is the younger Manning boy that truly cares for her and has been so nice.
Martha's dad has decided to go back to work and not be a writer right now. This gives Martha great relief. Martha makes it known that she wants to be a writer. When they get back home, Martha takes the bottle with the ocean to give to Olive's mom so that Olive has been to the beach. When she arrives, she discovers that her mom has moved away. She uses the water and writes Olive's name her step that she always sat on...over and over...until the ocean water is gone.
1) The dialogue lended to the authenticity of this novel. The conversations between Martha and her aging grandma really showed that Godbee understood and was also young once.
2) There were a lot of understatements used. Again, between Martha and Godbee, Martha would really have to process what Godbee was telling her in an understated way.