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Olive's Ocean

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  13,507 ratings  ·  1,337 reviews
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 mor
Paperback, 217 pages
Published April 26th 2005 by Greenwillow Books (first published 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)
Emu It's a pretty good realistic fiction book. I think it is relatable is some ways.…moreIt's a pretty good realistic fiction book. I think it is relatable is some ways.(less)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  13,507 ratings  ·  1,337 reviews

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Sep 02, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 21, 2022 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a good read. However, it’s really for young adolescents. It won the 2004 Newbery Honor.

It’s about a 12-year-old girl, Martha Boyle, who only knows another 12-year-old girl. Olive Barstow, in passing, but we learn in the first chapter that Olive got hit by a bike near her house and died. Olive left a note for Martha that was in her journal -- apparently Martha was the only one who showed her any kindness in school. The note said that in the next grade (next year) she would like
Mar 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 grandch ...more
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Apr 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
May 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Michelle Pegram
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Brigid ✩
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
Lilly J
Aug 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Lilly by: Friend
Shelves: kids
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
Nadia Uhlenhaker
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-buy, 5-star
I have no words for this book because they will do it no justice.
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
3.5 out of 5

Olive’s Ocean is an introspective, lyrical, heartwarming, honest, and evocative middle-grade novel about a change of one’s perspective and self-discovery.

Martha’s growth from an egocentric and insecure child to a more appreciative and thoughtful teenager is subtle, realistic, and satisfying. Her realization that "the world didn't revolve around her, that it was bigger than that, that it simply was, and would continue to exist with or without her" resonated with me deeply. Also, I esp
Linda Lipko
Dec 26, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nostalgia
This was one of my absolute favorite books as a teen, and it still holds up marvelously. I’ve loved this book for a myriad variety of reasons over the years, but the thing that still stands out about this story is the reminder that you never know how your actions are affecting someone else. The importance of doing the right thing and respecting the people around you and the fact that life is short and should be celebrated are other important themes within the book. Mostly, though, I just love Ma ...more
Kim Riehle
May 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Megan Thompson
Apr 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
this is my comfort book, i always go back to it no matter how old i get

hoped i would get tired & fall asleep but i read it all through the early morning till the sun rose (at least i can tell it rose behind the curtain). always a new feeling, a new discovery of myself, i see myself in martha & in olive. i see my family in her family. olive’s ocean means endless things.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
It was OK but I really don't think it deserved a Newbery. ...more
Lisa Kucinski
Sep 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a really touching coming of age story. It was referenced in one of the research papers I read regarding children’s literature addressing death and grief, and this novel does a great job of intertwining more lighthearted moments with a young girl coming to terms with a classmate’s sudden death. It made me think back on having that own sort of reckoning, where you’re suddenly old enough to realize that “if someone my age died, that means I could die too.” A really lovely story with some m ...more
Nov 06, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Apr 29, 2022 rated it really liked it
Very nice and easy read
Evan Yang
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book is for adults(not that much for kids)
Barbara Radisavljevic
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 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 oc ...more
May 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
by Kevin Henkes total pages:217

The book Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes is about a girl named Martha Boyle that used to go to school with Olive. Although Martha didn't know Olive very well Olive's mom gives her an entry from Olive's journal. She gave it to her because Olive had been hit by a car a few weeks ago and she thought Martha should have that journal entry. It was kind of random for Martha after reading the entry over many times she notices some similarities between her and Olive. Olive
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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.

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