From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-As Martha and her family prepare for their annual summer visit to New England, the mother of her deceased classmate comes to their door. Olive Barstow was killed by a car a month earlier, and the woman wants to give Martha a page from her daughter's journal. In this single entry, the 12-year-old learns more about her shy classmate than she ever knew: Olive also wanted to be a writer; she wanted to see the ocean, just as Martha soon will; and she hoped to get to know Martha Boyle as "she is the nicest person in my whole entire class." Martha cannot recall anything specific she ever did to make Olive think this, but she's both touched and awed by their commonalities. She also recognizes that if Olive can die, so can she, so can anybody, a realization later intensified when Martha herself nearly drowns. At the Cape, Martha is again reminded that things in her life are changing. She experiences her first kiss, her first betrayal, and the glimmer of a first real boyfriend, and her relationship with Godbee, her elderly grandmother, allows her to examine her intense feelings, aspirations, concerns, and growing awareness of self and others. Rich characterizations move this compelling novel to its satisfying and emotionally authentic conclusion. Language is carefully formed, sometimes staccato, sometimes eloquent, and always evocative to create an almost breathtaking pace. Though Martha remains the focus, others around her become equally realized, including Olive, to whom Martha ultimately brings the ocean.Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Gr. 5-8. More than anything Martha wants to be a writer. The problem is that her father does, too. Is there room for two writers in a single family? This is only one of the many questions that beg to be answered during Martha's twelfth summer. Here are others: Is Godbee, the paternal grandmother whom the family is visiting at Cape Cod, dying? Why is Martha's father so angry? Could Jimmy, the eldest of the five neighboring Manning brothers, be falling in love with her (and vice-versa)? And what does all this have to do with Olive, Martha's mysterious classmate, who died after being hit by a car weeks earlier? Olive, who also wanted to be a writer and visit the ocean, and hoped to be Martha's friend. Like Henkes' Sun and Spoon
(1997), this is another lovely, character-driven novel that explores, with rare subtlety and sensitivity, the changes and perplexities that haunt every child's growing-up process. He brings to his story the same bedrock understanding of the emotional realities of childhood that he regularly displays in his paradigmatically perfect picture books. This isn't big and splashy, but its quiet art and intelligence will stick with readers, bringing them comfort and reassurance as changes inevitably visit their own growing-up years. Michael CartCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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