Olive's Ocean

by Kevin Henkes

Hardcover, 2003



Local notes

Fic Hen





Scholastic (2003), Edition: First Edition, 217 pages


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.

Original publication date


Physical description

217 p.; 7.5 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member Whisper1
Olive's Ocean is a 2004 Newbery Honor award winning book.
While many of the Newbery Medal and Honor books are insightful, this one zipped right on past, leaving me with a hollow feeling. The story is somewhat typical of a YA book wherein the main character has a coming of age experience that changes
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them, however, the characters in this book seem one dimensional and limp like.

Martha is 12 years old when she learns that her classmate Olive died in a bike accident leaving behind a journal wherein she mentions that while other classmates paid no attention to her, Martha was kind.

Martha and her family vacation at the cottage of her grandmother in New England. During this particular vacation, Martha is drawn to a young man who in turn leads her on and embarrasses her.

Martha has a wonderful relationship with her grandmother and as they spend time together, the beauty of the elder teaching the younger is a theme of the story.

All the events listed above were portrayed in a cookie-cutter fashion wherein the events are noted, stamped out and then moved along -- no sugar on the cookies, no fancy shape-- just the process of robotically going through the motion of doing a job.

Not recommended.
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LibraryThing member welkinscheek
Olive's Ocean is the story of Martha Boyle, a twelve year-old whose reality is shaken when she is given a page torn from the diary of a recently deceased classmate, Olive Barstow, who writes of an admiration for Martha, and a secret wish to become her friend. Olive's words and the remarkable
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similarities between the two girls begins to haunt Martha as she embarks on summer vacation with her family. This is a transformative journey during which she experiences her first kiss, grows closer to her aging grandmother, and becomes conscious of her own mortality.

Martha's deep introspection, her irritation with her family, and her self-conscious behavior around boys accurately depict what it can be like to be twelve, sensitive, and thoughtful. Readers of any age can benefit from Martha's insight into her feelings about the death of a peer, and her awakening to the possibility of her own death. And fourth to seventh graders may see themselves reflected in her thoughts about herself, her family, and her interest in boys.

The biggest event in this book occurs before it begins: Olive's death. This event creates the dramatic momentum that, while it does not drive all or even most of Martha's decisions, motivates her movements and creates a new lens through which she can perceive the world and herself. It is a sensitive, deeply personal portrayal of a few weeks in a young girls life, and very appropriate for readers interested in works about self-examination.
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LibraryThing member gdrake
This gentle read is nevertheless packed with several powerful messages. When a quiet, lonely girl dies accidentally, her classmate, Martha, learns more about her and some values they had in common such as wanting to become writers. The girl was harassed, however, and soon Martha will learn what
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this feels like when a boy she cares about uses her. Martha is determined to honor this girl's spirit and in the process she honors her own.
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LibraryThing member bibliophile26
Olive is a strange girl with no friends. After she dies in an accident, her mother brings her journal to Martha, in which Olive described Martha as the "nicest girl in her class." Martha, who hardly knew Olive, is riveted by the girl's death. She learns more about Olive and herself during the
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summer at her grandmother's house in Cape Cod. Reading this book made me nostalgic for my childhood; it was sad at times, but enjoyable.
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LibraryThing member kewpie
I adore Kevin Henkes. Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse is one of my all-time favorite picture books. I thought his characters were so tenderly and lovingly written. I was very excited when he came out with a published novel. Unfortunately, it didn't feel the same to me. The book was too slow paced and
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I just didn't feel anything for any of the characters.
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LibraryThing member angieh1
Most definitly a chick flick. This book was a really good book. This 12-year old named Martha, finds out that her classmate named Olive, who just got hit by a car, wanted to be friends with her. Olive's mother drops a diary page from Olive's diary at her house. Martha feels really bad that she
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never really talked to her. Martha's family goes to California to stay with Godbee (her grandma) and Martha starts to like Jimmy, a friend of her brother Vince. Jimmy and his brothers live up the road. Read the book to find out more. Must read for girls! :-)
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LibraryThing member smilz23
Olive Barstow is Dead. Martha didn't really know her but now she is faced with some odd similarities. While Martha spends the summer with her grandmother and the neighbor boys, she learns about love, death, writing, and family.

Classroom connection: This would be a great read aloud book in middle
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school, there are a few swear words so the teacher definitely needs to read it first (always good practice). It could also be used as a literature circle book with a small group of students. Girls will probably enjoy this more than boys. Becoming a writer is a topic covered in the book and could spark some interesting discussions, about what to be when you grow up.
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LibraryThing member lorabear
Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes 217 pages
Why I chose this book: I stumbled upon this book while searching for YA titles that I hadn't read/heard of before.
What I thought: I thought that this was a great quick read, and would sugg. this book to anyone....young or old.
LibraryThing member dcoops2
This book appeals to older children. The paragraphs are short and catches the readers attention. It teaches children about the positive or negative impact they may have on other peoples lives without even realizing it. Which may be a positive or negative lating impression.
A positive attitude may be
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make an impact on some one life without even knowing it. Children learn by examples. An the expectations of others can lead to positive thing in years to come.
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LibraryThing member ericarhenry
This book begins with Martha receiving a page from Olive Barstow's journal from Olive's mother. Olive had recently been hit by a car and killed and her mother had found this journal page and thought that Martha would appreciate it. Martha finds out that one of Olive's goals had been to become her
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friend next year because Olive thought that Martha was the nicest girl in her class. This journal page begins haunting Martha as she realizes that she had not been mean to Olive, but she hadn't necessarily been friendly either. Olive was kind of a loner and didn't have friends. Martha starts to feel bad about this and thinks about it a lot throughout her family trip to the ocean. Martha decides to become a writer and feels compelled to write a story about Olive. I think she's kind of trying to give Olive some life back by writing about her. Martha goes through a lot while she's at the beach, but continues to think of Olive. One of Olives dreams had been to go to the ocean so Martha brings back a jar of sea water to give to Olive's mother. Once she gets back, it turns out that Olive's mother has moved so Martha paints Olive's name on the front steps of the house with the water over and over. I thought this was a very thoughtful book and much more in debth than most of the children's books I've read. Death isn't something that's in a lot of books for younger readers so I think it's definitely a good read for them. I think it does a great job at teaching compassion. It might make readers think a little bit harder about how they treat classmates. Kids tend to think of themselves as invincible and this book gives them a new point of view to consider. At one point in the story, Martha realizes that the world does not revolve around her. This is an excellent thing for kids to read about. Many of them don't try to see things from other people's points of view and this book does a great job at showing them this.
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LibraryThing member juanitaloo
The author did a wonderful job describing Martha's thoughts and emotions as she faced the oftentimes confusing issues of adolescence, such as love, family, and death. By revealing Martha's hopes and dreams, fears and wishes, secrets and embarrassments, the story offers other young pre-adolescent
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girls a sense of understanding and validation of their feelings.
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LibraryThing member TallyDi
I bought this book today to read in honor of the ALA Banned Book week. I read it in one sitting and was moved. Told from the point of view of the main character, Martha Boyle, the book lets us peek into her heart and sole as she contemplates life and death and has her first very small exposure to
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the intricacies of girl-boy differences.
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LibraryThing member julie_savage
Olive's Ocean is a novel that follows a girl named Martha through a summer. She is dealing with the death of a "friend", a quirky family and new friends that use and hurt her. Kevin Henkes uses powerful language to convey the emotions Martha has. Throughout the summer she grows and matures and by
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the end is able to let all of it go.
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LibraryThing member tamilarson
Martha's classmate Olive dies and Martha is given a page from her journal. Martha then has to try and figure out where her life is heading, how to tell her father she wants to be a writer, and what to make of this girl Olive she never really new. I enjoyed this book!
LibraryThing member perihan
Martha finds out her classmate, Olive, has been hit by a car and died while riding her bike. Olive’s mother comes to Martha’s house to give her a note that Olive left behind but she barely remembers Olive. This note reads that Olive liked Martha and wanted to be her friend, she wanted to be a
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writer and she loved the ocean. Martha wonders why they were not friends while they had so much in common. Martha secretly wants to be a writer and she too likes the ocean just like Olive. Afraid of being a copycat, Martha does not want to share her wish of becoming a writer with her family.
Martha has a 13 year old brother named Vince and a two year old sister named Lucy. Martha’s father is a novelist who stays home and looks after Lucy while the mother who works for a radio station. The next day Olive goes to Cape Cod with her family to visit her grandmother. The next door neighbor to her grandmother is the Manning family who has five boys. The oldest boy, Jimmy, is making movies of that involve a wide variety of topics. Martha thinks that Jimmy is interested in her, but finds out that he uses her to make his video. He tells her that he placed a bet of kissing her with his brothers and with Vince. She cannot believe that she fell for him and now he has the video of them kissing. Tate, who is one of the brothers of Jimmy has always been interested in Martha and Martha in him, steals Jimmy’s video and gives it to Martha. Throughout the story, Martha’s relationship with her grandmother grows and they become very close. Martha gathers ocean water in Lucy’s food jar and takes it to Olive’s home. When she gets there, she discovers that Olive’s mother has moved. She learns more about Olive’s life from the landlord. After the man leaves, Martha opens the jar of ocean water and spells Olive’s is name on the very bench where Olive use to sit. She runs back home and tells her family that she wants to be a writer.
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LibraryThing member Olisia
Olive's Ocean is great at taking the reader on an emotional journey in the shoes of a 12yr old girl. I could not put this book down.
LibraryThing member NancyStorm
Great book exploring the mind and emotions of a 12 year old girl who is looking for meaning in her life and unexpectedly finds it over summer vacation in a variety of experiences. Martha, the main character, has good insight into family members, neighbors, and then herself as she works to discover
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more about Olive, a school acquaintance who pops into her life, at a time when she is searching to know herself.
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LibraryThing member dg_turner
Martha's family is just getting ready to leave for vacation. They are going to stay with her Grandma at the beach. A visitor comes to the door and gives Martha a journal page written by Olive, one of Martha's classmates who was killed on her bicycle a few weeks back. Even though Martha barely knew
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Olive, Olive wanted to be friends with Martha. This was one of the things she had written in her journal. Olive had also written that she wanted to be a writer and that she wanted to see the ocean some day.
The rest of the story is about Martha's vacation at her Grandma's that summer, and how Olive's journal page affects her. I thought this story was going to be about Olive, the dead girl, but it is really about Martha. Kevin Henkes does such a wonderful job reminding us of what it was like to be an adolescent. It is easy to forget what is was like to be twelve and all the interactions with parents and how they made you feel. Reading this book really makes you feel like you are twelve again with all the confusion and turmoil of going through puberty.
I loved this book!
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LibraryThing member mrs.mackey
"Olive's Ocean" is a book about a little girl named Martha Boyle. Martha is constantly thinking about the death of one of her classmates Olive Barstow. She thinks of how she could help ease the pain of Olive's mother. Olive had always wanted to visit the ocean. Martha collected a bottle of seawater
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and wanted to give it to Olive's mother. When she goes to the house she finds that Olive's mother has moved. Martha takes the seawater to the spot where Olive was killed and pours it there. She also writes Olive's name there. During this story Martha is also dealing with her own life. She is pondering on what she wants to do when she grows up, and she is also starting to like boys.

"Olive's Ocean" was a good book. It had some parts in it that were sad, but for the most part it was upbeat. martha is caught between a child and a woman and is discovering herself. She is also feeling somewhat guilty for not being Olive's friend before she died.

In the classroom, I would use this book as a lesson to why you should always be kind to others. I would have them discuss how they would have tried to help Olive's mother deal with her daughter's death.
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LibraryThing member bushybabe
I loved This Book, I read it twice. I Think it is more for younger people like i would only read it up till 8th grade. But I read it in 8th and then in 9th and i didn't remeber it being as good. But it wasnt' that bad really..
LibraryThing member ksolberg
This book motivates reading because it presents real-life issues, experiences, fears, hopes, etc. The reader can identify with the main character and the things that she goes through throughout the novel.
LibraryThing member kmacneill
This is a coming of age story about a young girl. The main character, Martha, is deeply affected by the death of a fellow student, Olive, whom she barely knew. The only connection she has to her is through a page from Oliv'es journal. She goes to on family vacation to the beach at her Grandmothers.
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There she learns to deal with boys, family, friendship and the struggles of dealing with death. Like most Newberry's its a very realistic story. It was well written and I enjoyed it. It's something I would've read when I was a young adult. Many young adults would be about to relate to this book.
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LibraryThing member claseliteratura
Martha Boyle and Olive Barstow weren't friends even thought they went to the same school and were in the same grade.Olive Barstow was killed by a car a month earlier, and her mom wants to give Martha a page from her daughter's journal. In this single entry, the 12-year-old learns more about her shy
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classmate than she ever knew: Olive also wanted to be a writer. 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. At the Cape, Martha is again reminded that things in her life are changing. She experiences her first kiss,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.
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LibraryThing member ERMSMediaCenter
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.
LibraryThing member bnhays
It shocks me that people would try to ban this book. this is a coming of age story of a girl trying to be a teen but not quite ready to let go of being a kid. get story with great morals for readers.




½ (373 ratings; 3.8)
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