Martha remembered Olive as a very shy, quiet loner. She had heard about Olive's bicycle accident. She'd been hit by a car. But Martha had never gotten...moreMartha remembered Olive as a very shy, quiet loner. She had heard about Olive's bicycle accident. She'd been hit by a car. But Martha had never gotten to know Olive. Olive's mother had just delivered one of Olive's journal entries to Martha. Martha discovered in the entry that Olive thought she was the nicest person in their class and wanted to get to know her. But best of all, Martha finds they share a secret ambition -- to be a writer. She also learns that Olive had always wanted to see the ocean. Martha thinks it's more than a coincidence that her family is leaving to visit her grandmother the next day, and her grandmother lives on the Atlantic Coast, right by the ocean.
Martha tries to piece together a picture of Olive in her mind, even as she grieves for a friendship that might have been. She decides she will write a novel about Olive. She shares the secret with her Grandmother.
Over the course of her vacation with Godbee (her name for her grandmother), the two continued to build their relationship. Martha also deals with the pains of growing up and learning more about herself. She continues to think about Olive and decides that since Olive never got to see the ocean, she would bring some ocean back to give to Olive's mother. After burying her little sister in the sand except for her head, she goes into the ocean with the jar Godbee gave her, to fill it with the ocean water. She falls into the ocean when the sand bar she had been on disappeared. Though she was a good swimmer, she panicked and swallowed water and was sure she would drown. The thought made her kick and stroke until she broke through the water's surface and was able to make her way back to shore. Her world changed in that minute. She suddenly understood that the world did not revolve around her, and would continue to exist with her or without her. She began to appreciate life and even her family more.
The vacation ends too quickly. After a private last conversation with Godbee, Martha senses Godbee's fear that they might not see each other again. She arrives home more mature. She still hasn't written anything much, but she finally tells her dad she wants to become a writer and he encourages her.
Now all that is left for Martha to do is take the bottle of water, which she thinks of now as Olive's Ocean, to Olive's mother. She looks up the address, but arrives just after the family has moved away. She learns this by talking to the landlord, who tells her that Olive had never had any playmates over -- that she would just sit on the step, writing in her notebooks, all alone. Finally the landlord goes in, but gives Martha permission to hang around a while. The way she had dreamed of making her connection to Olive was now impossible. But she needed closure. She finally found a paintbrush in the garbage that Olive's family had thrown out, and she dips it into "Olive's Ocean" to write Olive's name on the step over and over, until the water was gone. She then throws the empty jar away and goes home, after saying goodbye to Olive twice. When she realizes suddenly that where she really wants to be in her grief is home, so she turned to take the short route there, saying loudly when she arrived, "I'm home."
The book was well-written. Martha had definitely grown into a more mature person by the end of the book, able to more fully appreciate her family, the brevity of life, the vulnerability of Godbee, and her own place in the larger world. The plot is mostly about Martha's internal life, though are is a subplot involving the beginning of what might be a potential romance later on. Someone who needs lots of external action might not like this book as much as I did, but thoughtful, introspective middle school girls, especially any dealing with grief issues, should appreciate it. (less)
I have decided to send a copy of this to my friend who lost her husband suddenly in a train wreck in Los Angeles last September. I think the authors,...moreI have decided to send a copy of this to my friend who lost her husband suddenly in a train wreck in Los Angeles last September. I think the authors, both of whom suffered their own losses, understand the intensity of grief. Thus these short meditations come from those who have lived through their own grief and they do not offer pat answers or encourage false cheer. Rather, they offer brief quotes, sometimes from the authors themselves that relate to death or grief, and these are followed by a few short paragraphs that relate to a stage of grief or encourage grief work. They help those who think they are going crazy to realize their feelings and memory lapses are normal occurrences among those who are grieving. They deal with the "Why?" question, the anger, the denial, and all the other emotions one feels after losing a loved one.
Having sustained four major loses myself -- my teen-aged son in 1991, a best friend in 2003, a mother-in-law in 2004, and my own mother in 2005, I think I'm in a position to know how a loss might feel in each of these situations. This is a book I wished I'd had in 1991 -- my first great loss. I'm keeping it, because I never know when it might come in handy again. I'm glad it's still in print so I could get a new copy for my friend, and still have a copy on hand. (less)
This book is for those who are suffering and wondering why God allows it. It's based on the book of Job and deals with the hard questions -- the kind...moreThis book is for those who are suffering and wondering why God allows it. It's based on the book of Job and deals with the hard questions -- the kind Job asked. If you or someone close to you is going through a hard time in life, you should read this. Edith wrote it when her husband was dying of cancer. (less)