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Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes

Olive's Ocean (original 2003; edition 2003)

by Kevin Henkes

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1,5051067,369 (3.79)19
Title:Olive's Ocean
Authors:Kevin Henkes
Info:New York : Greenwillow Books, c2003.
Collections:Your library
Tags:Category: Fiction, Country: USA, Reason: Offensive Language, Reason: Sexual Content, Source: ALA 10 Most Challenged 2007, Time Period: 2000s, *Challenged Books

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Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes (2003)

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Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
“Her life was a measly mess that could be contained in a closed fist. But her sadness could not be contained, and so she cried and cried.”

Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes (217 pages),/b> is about a twelve-year-old, redhead girl named Martha. A girl who went to her school, Olive, gets killed by a car. To Martha’s surprise, she finds out from Olive’s journal that the girl wanted to be her friend. This news confuses Martha, and she finds her thoughts consumed with Olive. Martha spends the rest of her summer vacation at her paternal grandmother’s house, thinking about death and her family.

What I like about this book is the writing. Everything Henkes seems to write in Martha’s narrative is poetic.

I also like romance a lot, even if it’s just sprinkled throughout a book. Innocent preteen romances are always fun to read because they are pure and awkward. Awkward and pure. It’s before the broken marriage, the cheating scandal, or the nasty dm (direct message). Preteen romances remind people of much simpler times, and I’m no exception to that. It’s adorable that Martha’s clueless about boys.

I can’t say that there was anything I disliked about this book. If I had to be nitpicky, the book could be considered anticlimactic throughout because the story reads like a kid’s normal day.


There’s nothing startlingly interesting about Martha. She’s just a normal kid, but I like that. Martha’s like thousands of kids anyone might know in real life, curious and thoughtful.

Godbee, the grandmother, is wise and just a little bit feisty. She reminds me of the God-like characters played by Morgan Freeman. I like the conversations Martha and Godbee have the most.

I wish I could have seen a bit more of the Manning boys, Tate in particular. Still, their presence was just enough so I did not forget about them.

This was a good read, nothing too obscene (there is a minor reference to Morning Sex), and the perfect length. If you want a book for a lazy afternoon then this book is for you!
( )
  DestDest | Dec 31, 2018 |
Book about a young girl navigating through life after her classmates passes away.
  chn3 | Aug 13, 2018 |
I was startled by the summary of Olive's Ocean. It's been so long since I wanted to read it that I completely forgot what the book was about or maybe I never knew. The cover is what attracted me and bonus it's by Kevin Henkes who wrote one of my favorite picture books: Chrysanthemum.

It was strange realizing that the protagonist was not going to be named Olive but the book would be about a girl named Olive who died. The first chapter had me crying so much because Olive's mother came around and gave Martha (our protagonist) a note from her daughter. She receded from Martha's house saying: "And thank you. Thank you, Martha Boyle." which of course is when I started crying because her shy little daughter was now gone from the world. Olive had no friends so it must have been wonderful to see she made a connection with somebody or at least her daughter wasn't teased by Martha for her quietness.

The note mentions all of Olive's hopes for the future and that Martha Boyle is the nicest person in her whole entire class. Martha doesn't know what to make of this because she never did anything or say anything to Olive that was nice. She wasn't mean to her of course but she couldn't understand why Olive felt that way. Right away Martha proves herself. Even in her flashback about learning about Olive's death she was kind. Throughout the whole book you understand why Olive wrote what she wrote.

"She had been trying to piece together the facts about Olive Barstow, the outline of Olive's life for the short time it had intersected with her own. Martha realized how little she knew. For the most part Olive was a mystery. Martha knew nothing about Olive's home life, nothing about her family, except that her mother rode a bike and wore her hair in a braid. Olive's school life, from Martha's perspective, didn't offer many answers either. Olive had seemed nearly invisible, passing through the halls and days unnoticed, except when she was being teased by Josh Sweeney or Dana Lewis."

Martha and Olive's connection is writing. They both want to become writers. Martha hasn't told anyone of her desire because her father is a writer and she doesn't want to make it seem like she's copying. Martha goes on a trip right after her interaction with Olive's mother and she has this feeling of dread around her. She doesn't know what to make of the note and can't help feeling sad and scared of death especially since her grandmother is getting very old.

"The ocean made her feel insignificant and slightly afraid, but in an exhilarating way. Her inclination was not to walk or dance across the water's surface. Nor to swim through it. She wanted to be the ocean."

Godbee is Martha's grandmother. Martha loves her grandmother. They share secrets with one another during her stay. You can tell she's worried about her grandmother but also about this new feeling in her heart - the fluttering of having a crush. This is where the book turns into an obvious route. I knew what was going to happen and that's always frustrating. It actually annoyed me quite a bit; her situation with Jimmy. One other thing is the slight cursing in this book from the Manning boys which surprised me. I wanted to mention that because I think this is a book more for preteens than younger children even though it feels like it could be for both. It's a very light read and the chapters soar by very quickly and the story is beautifully written so it didn't matter much to me.

“As she wove in and out of all the people - rushing, talking, eating, laughing; some in clumps, some alone - she realized that no one, no one at all in the airport, or on the entire planet for that matter, knew her thoughts, knew what she was carrying inside her head and heart. And at that very minute, what was inside her head and heart made her feel as though there was no one else in the whole world she would rather be.”

It was interesting to read about Martha's take on love and death. Martha could be very sweet and then unkind to her mother. I liked seeing the relationship between her parents and her as well as her siblings Lucy and Vince. She's a very introspective girl who really proved herself to have a kind heart in the end. I enjoyed reading her writing as well as her grandmother's story idea. This was very nice read that was written beautifully, it was a little predictable, but with a very caring protagonist. ( )
  AdrianaGarcia | Jul 10, 2018 |
Before she dies in a car accident, Olive writes in her journal that Martha is the nicest girl in her class. When Olive’s mother gives the page to Martha, she must come to terms with the fact that a girl she barely knew, obviously thought a lot of her. In this coming of age story, twelve year-old Martha grapples with many of the big questions of life. Love, death, family, and friendship are key themes woven through the daily events of Martha’s life during her summer vacation at her grandmother’s house. In this poignant encounter with Martha, the reader will feel a fondness toward this girl, who, in the end, figures out the important things in life. This would make an excellent middle grade book club selection. ( )
  valorrmac | May 15, 2018 |
I revisited this novel because it was the only novel I fully completed while in middle school (I know that is awful, but I did not like to read). Holy cow, now I know why I liked this novel so much! I mean it seems a tad intense for my 5th grade self, but I've always been an intense kind of girl… so it makes sense that I would like something so real at such a young age. This book is about a girl names Martha Boyle, who receives a journal from her deceased classmate's mother. This deceased classmate's name was Olive, and Olive wrote about Martha in her journal about how nice she seemed and how she wanted to know her better. When Martha was given this journal, she was taken back and wished she could have gotten to know Olive better. Every summer Martha visits her grandmother at the coast, but this summer would be different. She couldn't stop thinking of Olive, and this is where Martha starts to write a story with the main character's name being Olive. This is when Martha's coming-of-age journey starts where she is faced with her first kiss, her first love, her first betrayal, her first heartbreak. But, this is also the start of Martha discovering who she is at a young age and starts to understand life in a different way, all thanks to Olive.

Okay, first of all, I wept like a baby. I remember crying in the 5th grade when Martha got her heart broken (as if I knew what heartbreak was like). This book is so powerful, and it covers so many deep topics. Death of a classmate, being betrayed by someone you trust, being aware of death and how short life is, and regret. Though this isn't how many teens experience their "coming of age" journey, many teens can relate to the different events that happens to Martha in this book. To have a book that shows other teens they aren't alone is so powerful and it can make such a difference. I love how this whole story flowed and how Martha developed as a character. LOVE LOVE LOVE this book so much. I would give it ten stars if I could. ( )
  aquinn | Mar 28, 2018 |
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Wikipedia in English


Book description
The book centers around Martha Boyle who gains perspective after a classmate, Olive, dies in a tragic accident. The two girls had many parallels in life, and could have been friends, but were not. The book follows Martha's many reflections and revelations about life and her path as she vacations at her family's beach house and begins a relationship with an unlikely neighbor boy.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060535458, Paperback)

Sometimes life can change in an instant

Martha Boyle and Olive Barstow could have been friends, but they weren't. Weeks after a tragic accident, all that is left are eerie connections between the two girls, former classmates who both kept the same secret without knowing it. Now, even while on vacation at the ocean, Martha can't stop thinking about Olive. Things only get more complicated when Martha begins to like Jimmy Manning, a neighbor boy she used to despise. What is going on? Can life for Martha be the same ever again?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:57 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

On a summer visit to her grandmother's cottage by the ocean, twelve-year-old Martha gains perspective on the death of a classmate, on her relationship with her grandmother, on her feelings for an older boy, and on her plans to be a writer.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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