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The Ocean Inside

3.32  ·  Rating Details ·  506 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
Life changes in an instant. One day, Emmett and Lauren Sullivan's biggest worries revolve around the escalating taxes on their gorgeous Victorian beach house on Pawley's Island, South Carolina. The next, they're facing a devastating crisis.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Kensington (first published March 30th 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Rhonda Rae Baker
Oct 25, 2010 Rhonda Rae Baker rated it really liked it
WOW...just started and lyrical prose has sucked me in...I love this book already!

Finished this very quickly...couldn't stop taking breaks to get back to the story. Very real characters and what happened to them is something that could happen to anyone. Their reactions to the situtations presented were totally realistic as I've experienced some of what they went through. Without telling you all the details and how it worked out, I will say that life happens to all of us and sometimes we get distr
Aug 08, 2010 LadyCalico rated it liked it
I might have been able to enjoy this story more if it hadn't been set in my own little town of Pawleys Island, so I had to grind my teeth to the nubbins over the amount of things the author got so very wrong about both Pawleys and nearby Georgetown's history, geography, and culture. Yes, I know it's fiction, but keep the fiction, fiction and the real, real or else use a fictional place name. Petty, I know, but blatant errors are like chalk squeaking on the blackboard and detract from anything el ...more
Jan 25, 2010 Marti rated it really liked it
Sometimes a book hits you for reasons you can't quite explain. The Ocean Inside was that book for me. Perhaps because the author's story took a family and tore it apart emotionally and allowed the tide to ebb and flow with the emotions and fear. Perhaps because the ocean brought all things to a conclusion. According to the author, the ocean inside us is universal and is the part of us that lies hidden from the world. It is the part of us that has a secret, a fear, a longing or an emotional burde ...more
Apr 02, 2011 Julie rated it liked it
I'm not entirely sure this book earned a full three stars, but it was definitely better than two stars. I can't pinpoint what was wrong with the book - it was relatively well-written, I found sympathy with the characters (although admittedly I sympathized more with the daughters than the parents), the book ended well. But as difficult as it is to say what was wrong with the book, I also can't say anything was glaringly right either. It just "was." I did find Sloan's storyline to be a hefty distr ...more
Aug 04, 2009 Fatatat rated it it was amazing
This book had an absolutely stunning opening scene and soon began to unfold a story that was captivating. The writing style was very easy and similar to a lighter version of a Picoult along with a similar type story line. Though I do tend to find with Picoult's that things are a little too drawn out this book had the perfect pace and interwove different aspects of the story in a pleasing way. I very much enjoyed reading this and hearing all the voices of the place in which it was set. It's obvio ...more
Lindsay Murphy
Jan 02, 2012 Lindsay Murphy rated it liked it
I thought the book was fairly interesting but I thought that the author should not have added the story about LaShonda it distracted me from the story about Sloan and Ainslie. I was disappointed in the ending and thought that the whole thing with Sloan being rescued by dolphins was corny. I guess I wish the author had just stuck with the story about the sisters and the cancer.
Dec 23, 2009 Julie rated it liked it
I ended up liking this book the more I read. What was best was the perspective change from person to person, where you learned the motivations and thoughts of the characters. Also, that it did not focus on the details of the illness, just the effects on the family. Did not sink to weepy melodrama.
Jul 05, 2009 Shannon rated it it was amazing
This novel was amazing. Once I picked it up I could not put it down. The story was captivating and I loved how the chapters rotated by telling the story from various perspectives.
Beth F.
Too much speculative fiction has probably ruined me for this sort of real life story because I can’t help but think that nothing happened in this book. And yeah, I feel like a real douche canoe for admitting that a story where a kid gets cancer and a family falls part equates to “nothing happened” in my mind.

Except, the story wasn’t exactly about a kid with cancer and a family falling apart. Those things happened but only in order to set up the real action, which was the older teenage sister ge
This was a beautifully written novel. I thought the characters and the way the way they dealt with the situations in their lives was really realistic. I also thought that alternating perspectives helped this novel. Unfortunately, I thought that the ending of this novel was very abrupt and felt like a cop-out. The reader is left with too many unanswered questions. I don't mind open endings but I feel like the author put her characters in such difficult situations that she didn't know how to solve ...more
Jan 27, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it
I was really surprised by how much I liked this. I thought from the book description that it would be a book about demonizing parents for forgetting to be parents but I was surprised by how it was not like that at all. It was more about how stress can manifest differently in everyone and how sometimes the person with the most pain, fear and stress can be the one most sensitive to others. I particularly liked the relationship between the sisters and thought it was realistic and hopeful. The way t ...more
Jul 01, 2016 Eddi rated it really liked it
Interesting book. I struggled between rating it as a 3 or a 4, because I was unsettled with the ending. However, it was a good read, with interesting and appealing characters. Lots of family issues were being dealt with - marital and financial difficulties, a daughter with cancer, and a daughter who got involved with a rich kid who was doing illegal activities. The author did a good job of developing these issues in realistic ways, so that the family members' behaviors made sense. I would read m ...more
Aug 09, 2010 Felisa rated it liked it
Shelves: amazonfree
I chose this book because it was free from Amazon's kindle downloads. I'm usually disappointed by those books, but always give them a try (because they are free!). This novel started off weird, I immediately sensed the drama that was coming my way (really sick child, marital problems, teenage angst...) but was surprised by how "un-fake" it felt (as apposed to feeling "real"). I think McMahan did go a little overboard with the drama, but I still enjoyed reading it. I think if you're looking for a ...more
Apr 20, 2009 Barbara rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
This book was terrific, up to a point. I enjoyed the story itself and the writing, but was very disappointed in the ending. A lot of time was spent building a suspenseful set of circumstances and then, almost suddenly, the book ended with no real ending. The young girl suffering from cancer suddenly is back in school, the financial problems of the parents are nearly solved, yet the story line concerning the older sister is dropped. Her character solved problems in her own way, but this reader wa ...more
May 23, 2010 Charlotte rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
In The Ocean Inside, Janna McMahan introduces to a real family with real struggles facing a real disease. Their reaction is human and the writing makes you feel as if this were a family you know from your own hometown. The familiarity of the Sullivan's is what makes this book so real and touches your heart. The Ocean Inside was my first introduction to the works of Janna McMahan, but it won't be my last. I am off to search B&N for more of her books!

Oct 12, 2010 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can understand the comparisons to Jodi Picoult, given the different points of view and the similar setup to "My Sister's Keeper" (one sick sister, one not, and the resulting family drama). However, Picoult has evolved over time, and I imagine McMahan will too. The amount of drama felt like too much here; it felt forced rather than a natural result of the family's stress.

It wasn't a bad book, and I would read another by McMahan. But she's not an automatic buy yet.
May 28, 2015 Cheryl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-edition
Not sure I agree with all of the kudos about this book. I found the characters terribly self-serving, except for the dying child and the book races from one bad depressing episode to another. It dragged in a lot of places and the story seemed overly long. There were pages I just skipped over because I got a little bored. It is well-written but this isn't even close to the type of dramatic family stories that Chris Bohjalian, Ann Hood and Jody Picoult write.
McGuffy Morris
Jan 25, 2011 McGuffy Morris rated it really liked it
A glimpse into a family under pressure.The complexities, interactions, reactions, and intricacies of an American family are well done by Ms. McMahan. The characters were interesting, even when not likable...and they were definitely not all likable.This added to the realism and rounded out the story.
The book held my interest.It read quickly and easily.
I look forward to reading more books by Janna McMahan.
Mindy Larson
Aug 31, 2009 Mindy Larson rated it really liked it
It was a fun read, although it was a serious subject matter, it was still kept pretty light. I related with the main characters. Lauryn and Sloan were so brave in their battles and trials of life. The ending wasn't really an ending. It felt anti-climatic, after the big build up of many intense events. As I look back on it, I appreciate the fact, I as a reader can make up for myself how it all will work out for each of them.
Feb 22, 2011 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
As a fan of low country stories, this is one of the best books that I have read in a long time. I love the NC/SC area, I own a 2nd home there, and as I read this book it transported me down there and drew me in fro the first page. This book makes you smile, laugh, cry and mixes in a dose of reality and suspense, basically it has it all!
Jul 17, 2015 Vanessa rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016-reads
The plot had potential, but it was disjointed and jumped all over the place. LaShonda, Ronald, and Mr. Washington could have been left out of the story entirely. I couldn't bring myself to care about the characters and tried to read quickly so that I could move on to a different book. Sloan's relationship with Cal seemed forced, and their escapades were completely random.
Dec 06, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing
A truly great read!!!! Will try to read more of this author!!!! Book about life changing in an instant!!!! Takes place in Pawleys Island South Carolina. One of my favorite places that I was lucky enough to visit!!! Felt like I was returning their to visit!!!! About a family trying to do the right thing and appreciating one another!!!!
Oct 20, 2011 Kathy rated it liked it
Other readers have compared Janna McMahan's The Ocean Inside with Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper, I agree and I also agree, you can see why Jodi is the best selling author. This was an enjoyable read, nice characters, good story line, but just not top notch yet. But I would definitely give this author another try on another novel.
Feb 10, 2013 Brandy rated it it was ok
This book was ok - pretty predictable. It felt like a combo of Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult. It seemed like there were a lot of random unnecessary details. I would have liked to have a bit more at the end though.
Apr 13, 2015 Linda rated it really liked it
A family life disrupted when the youngest daughter develops cancer and their insurance will not pay.
The story is set in South Carolina, Pawleys Island, which I have visited and absolutely loved. A wonderful story of love and hope.
Aug 30, 2010 Alissa rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Alissa by: Free Kindle
Shelves: read-in-2010, kindle
The author mimics her writing style similar to Jodi Piccolt with each chapter narrated from a different persons perspective. I really tried to like this book but the characters are not very likeable and the plot is disconnected with huge gaping holes.
D. Lynn
Aug 12, 2010 D. Lynn rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
Would have been a better read if the book had an ending. The author didn't even leave me wanting more . . it just ended? Not sure why? Is a sequel involved? And, if so, not sure that I will choose to select it because none of the characters developed into completion.

Sep 18, 2010 Jenn rated it liked it
I think I got this as a Kindle freebie. It did remind me of Jodi Picoult just a bit. Raising two daughters, I found myself connected to the relationship between the sisters. Overall, I liked it and if it's cheap, I recommend it.
Jul 06, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: happy-to-share
I bought this book solely on the jacket description which read something like "Jodi Picoult fans will enjoy this novel." It was a good book, but not as memorable as Jodi Picoult's many titles. Worth the read though -- especially if you're looking for a good "beach book."
Patti Quiring
Only the second book written by this author. Cancer survivor who retooled to follow her dream of writing. BRAVO to her!! Knowing that each day was a blessing, she followed her heart. Nice to support young women who follow their dreams.
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