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Olive's Ocean

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,564 Ratings  ·  1,040 Reviews
"Olive Barstow was dead. She'd been hit by a car on Monroe Street while riding her bicycle weeks ago. That was about all Martha knew."

Martha Boyle and Olive Barstow could have been friends. But they weren't--and now all that is left are eerie connections between two girls who were in the same grade at school and who both kept the same secret without knowing it.

Now Martha
Hardcover, 217 pages
Published August 12th 2003 by Greenwillow Books (first published January 1st 2001)
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Tessa When she is passing the adults at the bonfire while walking with James, and she pretends to understand their comment. She does not necessarily want to…moreWhen she is passing the adults at the bonfire while walking with James, and she pretends to understand their comment. She does not necessarily want to be treated as an adult, but she wants to be taken seriously, which means that she does not want to be treated as a child.(less)
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Oct 17, 2008 Ingrid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Martha Doyle was a just an average girl until a classmate of hers named Olive died in an accident. Olive's mom brings Martha a journal page of Olive saying"She is the nicest girl in my class." From that day on, Martha just couldn't stop thinking about Olive. She and her family visits their granny Godbee, meets Jimmy Mannings and more. It's really easy to reveal what's going to happen next, but the story flowed really well and I think Martha's feelings were very well-expressed and described. It's ...more
Sep 03, 2008 Mindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although Olive's Ocean is a Newbery Award winner, it is also a challenged book. It is about a girl named Martha who takes a trip with her family to visit her grandma at the end of summer vacation. Before they leave, Martha has a strange visitor, Olive's mother. Olive, an extremely shy girl in Martha's class, had recently passed away after being hit by a car while riding her bike. Martha knew who Olive was but had never really talked to the girl. Neither did anyone else at school except to tease ...more
Scott Rhee
I don't read a lot of young adult fiction, and it's not because I don't like it. What I have read in this genre I have liked, and there are young adult authors doing stuff in the genre that is phenomenal. I just haven't read much of it. I'm not sure why.

I think part of the problem, for me, is that it is such a huge genre. Young adults are a strong and powerful demographic amongst book-buyers. I'm actually an oddball: adult male. As a demographic, we simply don't buy, or read, a lot. Most of the
Apr 14, 2012 Ronyell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of angst romance!

I have been reading many works by Kevin Henkes ever since I was a child, but they were all children’s books like “Chrysanthemum,” “Sheila Rae the Brave” and “Owen” and I had enjoyed every one! Now, this is the first time I have read one of Kevin Henkes’ works that is actually aimed at teens and the first book I have read from Kevin Henkes’ teen reads collection is “Olive’s Ocean!” “Olive’s Ocean” is a Newbery Honor book by Kevin Henkes and it details the turbulent life of Martha Boyle after the
Oct 19, 2008 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kevin Henkes created a tale that so closely resembles that awkward time that many girls experience during adolescence. There is so much drama in everything that happens, and no one ever seems to understand your suffering, especially not your parents. In the character of Martha, many young girls will be able to find a piece of themselves, and realize that you can go on and you are not alone in the journey. I cannot believe that this is a frequently challenged book. There is so much to relate to i ...more
Mar 15, 2008 elissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 10-12 year olds
This has been on my list of books to read for a long time, and it was an excellent and very quick read. I didn't WANT to put it down and go to sleep last night, but had to finish it this morning. It's a very cozy family story, with tragedy threatening, as it often does in real life. I think the reason this took me so long to read is that it came out the year that my grandma died. From reading Henkes' SUN & SPOON, I knew that he writes superbly about relationships between grandparents and gra ...more
Jan 07, 2008 ~me~ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVE this book. A tragic accident can sometimes bring you to see who you are and how you can be. That's what Oliva's Ocean teaches you along with the beauty of the word that float off every page.
Michelle Pegram
This is a book that sneaks up on you with its quiet beauty.

Told in first person narrative, it is the story of one summer in the life of twelve year old, Martha. Just before her family leaves for their yearly summer vacation at Godbee's, her 80 year old grandmother, house on the shore, Martha is paid a visit by the mother of a recently deceased classmate whom she did not know well.

Olive, the title character, is only heard from once in the novel and only through her voice in a diary page that he
Aug 23, 2011 Jasprit rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
Olive’s Ocean tells the story of 12 year old Martha, who longs for the summer breaks, as this is the time she gets to spend most with her grandmother. But this summer things are different; firstly Olive a girl in Martha’s class unexpectedly gets killed, Martha feels really guilty as she didn’t really get to know Oliver properly. Then her dad decides he wants to go back to work and not be a writer anymore. She’s also worried that her grandmother won’t have much time to spend with her anymore as s ...more
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
Ironically, the same author that wrote "Lily's Purple Plastic Purse" has also written one of the most depressing books I have ever read--"Olive's Ocean". It tells the story of a girl who wanted to be friends with another girl named Olive. Unfortunately, Olive is now dead. It is only until after Olive's death that the protagonist receives a page of Olive's diary, and finds out that Olive also wanted to be her friend. The book is a fast read, written in a simplistic style. At times I thought it wa ...more
Martha travels with her family to her grandmother's house. She has a lot on her mind, from finding out that the nobody girl in her class thought that Martha was the nicest person to wanting to be a writer to the boys down the beach. All the while, she is learning about her grandmother and the importance of living while you can.

This is a sweet book. I strongly related to the granddaughter-grandmother connection. Otherwise, this was just a nice read. Martha is a character that many girls can relat
Oct 20, 2008 Brooke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Olive's Ocean. the story was very good and it was different then most books. one thing that was a little wierd was i read this book right after a 7th grader at our school passed away... it was a big coincedence for me. i would recommend this book to most everyone.
Book Concierge
Audiobook performed by Blair Brown

From the back cover - 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
Lisa Kucinski
Sep 29, 2008 Lisa Kucinski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a good book for a middle school boy or girl. It was a realistic fiction story that tugged at my heart strings. Read the first couple of pages and you will know what I mean!
Katherine Catmull
Gorgeous & simple & moving. Everything a middle grade book can be at its best. It's about art and love and family and growing up and growing old and death. This book made me so happy.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
It was OK but I really don't think it deserved a Newbery.
Nov 19, 2009 Annette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kevin Henkes gives a glimpse into the adolescent psyche in "Olive's Ocean". The story is told in the third person, but we see through Martha's eyes. All the other characters are seen in relation to Martha, yet are realistically portrayed and have a substance of their own. The sudden and tragic death of Olive, a classmate of Martha's, and a page from Olive's journal(that her mother delivers) are a catalyst for Martha to look at her own life through different eyes. Martha sees parallels between h ...more
Linda Lipko
Dec 26, 2010 Linda Lipko rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-winner
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 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 s
West Region,
Olive’s Ocean – Kevin Henkes

Martha Boyle remembers when Olive died… randomly… hit by a car. But they had never been close friends, so soon Martha forgot.

Until one day there was a knock on her door.

“Are you Martha Boyle?”
Martha nodded.
‘You don’t know me,” said the woman at the door. “Olive Barstow was my daughter. I was her mother…. I found this in her journal…’
Slowly, Martha unfolded the piece of paper. Olive’s handwriting was perfectly formed… Martha read, hearing the words in Olive’s thin
Aug 15, 2008 Shannon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adolescent Girls (or their parents)
I borrowed this book from Anna's teacher after a day of sorting books for her (my idea of a volunteer's dream job - spending a few hours sorting through books!).

I'm not sure Anna is old enough to read this yet, but it's a great book about what it's like to be a 12 year old girl. Martha, the main character, is honestly and realistically portrayed and I remembered what it was like to be her age as I read the book. It's a very quick read and an innocent book for this age group. I loved the relatio
Kim Riehle
Just before Martha Boyle's summer vacation she finds out about the death of a girl in her class named Olive. Olive was quiet and kind of kept to herself. The two girls weren't really friends but after Olive's death Martha began to wonder why not. The theme of this book was good but I really didn't like the language. Some of the characters were a little crude and I felt that there should have been more of a connection to Olive throughout the book. I did like the end though. It was a nice conclusi ...more
Amy Heeter
If I was twelve, this would be one of the best books ever. Since I'm not, it was definately very young for me. It was a quick read that really reminded me of how serious and emotional trivial things can seem to a twelve year old. However, any adult can easily relate to the grandmother Godbe. It definately pulled a few heart strings, and I would say it is well deserving of all its praise. There were a few times that I put down the book and wiped my eyes, and thought wow that was one of the best t ...more
Lilly J
Nov 17, 2013 Lilly J rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Lilly by: Friend
Shelves: worst
This book was my worst of all time. It was about a girl named Martha and, Olive, a girl she hardly knew that died. They could have been friends so Martha was upset (I would be too). Then, she went to the beach and started kissing boys. It was really weird. I have no idea how this book won the Newbery Honor, it had a bad plot, her kissing boys on camera, and all the chapters were really short. Olive dying didn't need to be in the book, it was just to get people to read it. Kevin Henkes should jus ...more
Jun 23, 2008 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Twelve year-old Martha goes with her family to visit her grandmother, Godbee, in New England just days after she meets the mother of a deceased classmate who had thought highly of her. Olive, killed in a car accident, had kept a journal and on one page surprisingly mentioned Martha as being one of the nicest girls in her class. The summer unfolds on the beaches of New England, where Martha does a lot of growing up, learning life lessons about death and self-discovery. 2003 Newbery Honor book.

Nov 05, 2008 Kelli rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who know teens
Olive Barstow leaves a cryptic diary entry that references Martha Boyle, who receives the diary page upon Olive's sudden death. This is the story of a young girl trying to understand the relationships in her life - a dead classmate, her first crush, her aging Grandma Godbee. A good read that touches on the alienation of teens, but without needing an evil persona to get the point across. I picked this up because it was on the banned books list. (?!!) What are people thinking?!
Lindsey Wash
Among genres in literature for children and adolescents, contemporary realistic fiction can provide strong connections for readers of all ages. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes, tells the coming of age story of twelve year old Martha Boyle and the realizations she made during her summer vacation. Before leaving for her grandmother’s house at the beach, Martha receives a strange visit. The visit brings a new light to the death of a classmate, Olive Barstow, and the things she had hoped for in life. ...more
Paige Spell
Apr 07, 2015 Paige Spell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a easy but suspenseful read. I loved how the chapters were broken into detailed events of Martha's life. It is funny how one beach trip can change a young girl. Between getting closer to her grandmother, Godbee, discovering feelings for a boy next door, and understand the meaning of a passed girl, Olive; Martha had a different outlook on life. She desired deeply to be her own person, which meant waiting for her dad to quit being a writer so she could be one. This book fit the life ...more
Nadia Uhlenhaker
Jan 30, 2015 Nadia Uhlenhaker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, to-buy
I have no words for this book because they will do it no justice.
Jordan Davidson
Jun 03, 2015 Jordan Davidson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-355
Olive’s Ocean
Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow Books, 2003

Summary: Martha Boyle is shocked when she receives a paper torn from the journal of Olive Barstow, a quiet and reserved classmate of hers who was recently killed in a bicycle accident. In the journal, Olive describes Martha as “the nicest girl in our whole class” and expresses a wish to become friends with her in the coming year. Olive and Martha were connected in ways that Martha could never have imagined; in particular, they both have secret desi
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 g
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Kevin Henkes became an author/illustrator when he was nineteen years old, working on a card table in his bedroom.
Today he's the author of many award-winning picture books and novels.
More about Kevin Henkes...

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“Now smile a real smile for me so I know you`re not suffering inside.” 11 likes
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