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The Ocean in My Ears

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  184 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Meri Miller lives in Soldotna, Alaska. Never heard of it? That's because in Slowdotna the most riveting activities for a teenager are salmon fishing and grabbing a Big Gulp at the local 7-Eleven. More than anything, Meri wants to hop in her VW Bug and head somewhere exciting, like New York or L.A. or any city where going to the theater doesn't only mean the movies. Everyth ...more
Paperback, 300 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by Ooligan Press
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Karelia Stetz-Waters
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Writing for Ooligan Press has put me in touch with a lot of amazing writers, and Meagan Macvie is definitely one of Ooligan’s shining stars. Her debut novel, The Ocean in My Ears, tells the story of Meri Miller, a high school senior torn between her life in small, sleepy, and sometimes brutal Soldotna Alaska and her dreams of going away to college. That story—with its adolescent hopes and desires—is enough to satisfy, but the novel is like a house that is bigger on the inside than the outside, a ...more
Melissa Fish
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When I first began reading this coming of age YA novel, I found the main character, Meri, truly aggravating-- and then I recognized that it's simply because as a 42 year old grown woman, teenage girls ARE sometimes aggravating. The story is set in Soldotna, Alaska, about 55 miles from where I live now, but in the early 90's when I was a teenager. That aggravation I felt when I started the book bloomed into recognition, and then it was off to the races, I didn't want to put the book down. The sto ...more
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Meagan Macvie’s big heart shines on every page of this thoughtful, generous, observant novel. I am lucky enough to have read an advance copy and glad to have an opportunity to post a brief review and recommendation for others. Full disclosure: I know Meagan and have written alongside her for several years. More disclosure: I went to high school in the Midwest in the 60s. Even though Meri Miller’s story unfolds in Alaska 35 years later, The Ocean In My Ears transported me emotionally and visceral ...more
Lynn Lovegreen
Brilliant writing, an interesting setting, and a story you won't forget! I loved visiting Soldotna in the 1990s, and I can vouch for the authenticity of her Alaska details. Macvie brought the highs and lows of adolescence to life. I fell in love with Meri and Joaquin. Hope to read many more books from this author!

Note: not G-rated
Meagan Macvie delivers a dead-on coming-of-age tale set in her own tiny hometown of Soldotna, Alaska. Meri faces a senior year full of stress; her boyfriend, her brother, her best friend, her grandmother, her prom, her SATs, her parents, and even the adorable guy for whom she secretly pines; they're all problematic. Trying desperately to untangle from the drama around her, Meri keeps her eyes on the future: her college years -- her ticket out of Soldotna. Macvie's characters have real depth (exc ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A really good YA book, and I love those! Good lessons to learn. Couldn't put it down. ...more
Rob Queen
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Meagan's coming-of-age story, "The Ocean in my Ears" feels kind of like a tease, which, in this case, is a good thing.

Throughout the story, we follow the narrator, Meri Miller, through her last year of high school, from summer to graduation. Having Meri is the narrator is a good thing because it shows readers the depths of this character. Had Meri not been the narrator, I think she would have come across as a bit of a bitch, one who readers would find unsympathetic. Because we do get Meri's who
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, alaska
Oof, this book felt very true. Honest. Real. Painful. I think it would have meant a lot to me in my late teens and early twenties. The last scene, when Mari is on the plane leaving home for college really struck home for me.
Melissa Graves
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Fornication" is the first word we hear ringing in the ears of of Meri Miller, the protagonist of Meagan Macvie's lyrical YA Coming-of-Age tale, "The Ocean in My Ears." When we first meet our MC, Meri is a good Christian girl attending church with her family in the remote, small town of Soldotna, Alaska in the early 90's. The pastor's warnings about the dangers of pre-marital sex evoke the exact opposite response in 17-year-old Meri, who has become smitten with Joaquin, a beautiful Latino boy fr ...more
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I picked up this book and saw that the first word was “fornication,” I knew I was in for a wild ride. But despite such an evocative opening, The Ocean in My Ears wasn’t an excessive, overdramatic young adult novel. While it does address serious subjects like life-threatening accidents, teen pregnancy, and abusive relationships it also has moments of charming and angsty humor that set the tone for Meri’s view of her hometown. Each character fits into relatively clean categories as either the ...more
Alexa Dooseman
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-mg, 2018-reads
This book brought me back to my own high school experience - and all the confusion and excitement and anticipation that went along with it. It's so difficult to depict that time in a teenager's life without tipping into melodrama, but Macvie keeps her story real and grounded. She writes with sympathy and humor, giving her characters relatable worries and motivations. I understood where Meri was coming from every step of the way - even when she made decisions that wouldn't end well. I wish that I ...more
Heidi Burkhart
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Most young women from a small town could relate to this book. I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading but was drawn in right away.

Many people could tell a story about their experiences and people they knew with a healthy dash of fiction, but Macvie does it with some eye opening clarity.

This is an excellent and inspiring read that many high school students could enjoy.

I will look forward to Macvie’s next book.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
quite the fan. i really like young adult books about alaska (yes, i know it's a niche market but i've read a couple now and they're fun). also, what a 90s vibe we had going!!! this book was like the alaskan young adult novel version of lady bird, and i freaking loved lady bird. ...more
Emily Frantz
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Ocean in My Ears is a lovely literary YA coming-of-age novel. I really liked Meri as a character. She’s relatable, imperfect, smart, naïve, and funny. The writing was both fun and deeply genuine and perfectly reflected Meri’s complex emotions. Growing up is hard, and this book really explores how even ordinary teenage life is messy, confusing, sad, and disappointing. The characters all seem really realistic, and I could envision them making mistakes and learning from them in the small-town A ...more
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-ya
This was a well written realistic fiction for young adults. Told consistently in Meri's POV, but covers a variety of characters in this method. The only reason I would hesitate to recommend this title is to avoid promoting a main female character who has to figure out she's being treated like a doormat. Hopefully a lot of young people will read it, while their inner voice say "Stop! He's a loser! You deserve better than that!" I understood her desire to leave the small town of Soldotna, Alaska. ...more
Pam McGaffin
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Meri Miller's journey from bored and frustrated "Slowdatna" teenager to a young woman who knows what she wants is so realistically drawn and richly human that I forgot I was reading fiction. A beautiful, funny and uplifting book about a girl growing up and learning her self-worth. Loved it! ...more
Emily A. Macvie
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Having roots in small, rural towns I was emotionally catapulted back to my adolescence while reading this book. Meagan Macvie nails the conflicting feelings of being emotionally invested your hometown but also dying to cut ties with it and all it stands for. Similar to the fact that Meri is intolerant of her not-even-close to worthy boyfriend Brett lying to her parents, while she, herself, does just that... small town code is akin to someone else picking on your sibling: you don't get to bag on ...more
"Out my window the Kenai Peninsula blurs, and patterns emerge like hieroglyphs. The land becomes language, decipherable. I read: Home. This place and these people are what I know. They are all I know.
All I knew."

The Ocean in My Ears is a lovely coming-of-age tale set in Soldotna, Alaska in the 90s. At first, its 90s setting and pop culture references felt a little forced—and I was way too focused on whether or not I understood said references—but by about a third of the way through, those refer
Terence Brierly
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Meagan Macvie has crafted such a lovingly detailed depiction of Alaska in the 90s that one starts to wonder if it is autobiographical in parts. Soldotna Alaska is the setting here, as seen through the eyes of a wistful teenager making terrible decisions is an oppressively conservative, oppressively boring little place. It comes complete with crappy diners, small-town carnivals, and sketchy hot tub houses. Meri, the soon-to-be high school graduate, is trying to find a way out of Alaska, but life ...more
Molly Ringle
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this so much! I was a teen in 1990 myself, and this book brought the experience back to life with almost eerie vividness and accuracy. (Had I thought about the clothing store Jay Jacobs in decades? No, I had not. But it all came back to me, the floral printed jeans and the pouf-sleeved formal dresses and everything.) Macvie's writing sings, both in the narration and in the hilarious dialogue. I went from laughing to getting teary within a page, and back again, lots of times. The story is ...more
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Ocean in My Ears is one of those books that will resonate with many readers for a million different reasons. Even if a reader doesn't relate to the indescribable desperation to escape that can come with living in a small town, Meri and those around her are so real, even with their insecurities and flaws, that it is hard to imagine a reader who couldn't relate to some character in this book. While Meri isn't always right, or even likable sometimes, this is what makes her character so realisti ...more
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Meri perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to be a teenage girl. Between her deteriorating relationship with her best friend, her numerous boy troubles, and fears of the future, she truly acts like a seventeen-year-old. There’s no shortage of moments where the reader desperately wants to grab Meri, shake her by the shoulders, and yell, “What are you thinking?” Though sometimes she makes bad (or at least aggravating) choices, she is a more authentic character because of it. And despite there bein ...more
Mary Williams
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This beautifully written coming of age story revolves around Meri Miller, a high school senior who can’t wait to leave her tiny home town in rural Alaska. The summer before her final school years starts her days consists of getting candy from the local 7-Eleven, driving her best friend Charlie around town, and working on college applications. All the while she looks for her crush, Joaquin, a boy from the wrong side of town. Instead she finds Brett, the twenty-one year old townie who can’t imagin ...more
Joanna Szabo
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Ocean in My Ears is the kind of literary contemp YA that I really want to see more of. The writing is sharp, fun, and incredibly real. This book reminds me that the problems of a teenager don't have to be life or death to be high stakes, like prom and boys and family and religion. Sometimes, though, the stakes *are* life or death, and these are things teens deal with outside of dystopias and space operas and rebellions, in their normal, everyday lives.

The '90s Alaskan setting isn't just a n
Cassandra **The Bibliophagist**
The Ocean in My Ears is a wonderful coming of age tale. Meri is struggling between staying in Alaska- the only place she has ever known...with the only people she has ever known-and venturing on her own to discover who she really is and what the world holds for her. Growing up in Alaska in the 90s, in a Christian family, is difficult enough...but Meri must also deal with maneuvering through her stressful teenage years.
The story is told from the POV of Meri, but the reader still gets an idea of
Alexis McIvor
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. I read it for school (Portland State Universities Ooligan Press published it, and I had to review it for a lab I took with them this summer) and normally I get bored with books I read for school, even if they may be fun. NOT THIS ONE! I sped through it, not wanting to stop.

I think the reason I enjoyed it so much is that Meri, the main character is just so relatable. Either you've had experiences like her, or you know people that have; either way, you know Meri. Som
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Ocean in My Ears is a truly authentic glimpse into coming of age in the 90s. From Meri’s struggles navigating her budding sexuality to her inner turmoil coping with religion, I found myself reliving my teenage years with every page I turned. Full discloser, I’m not generally the biggest YA fan, but the characters in this book didn’t rely on the usual clichéd stereotypes often found in coming of age narratives. They felt genuine. I read it from cover to cover in one evening, wishing in the en ...more
Bryn Kristi
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ocean in my ears is a relatable, realistic coming of age story. The character goes through her senior year in high school and struggles with the dilemma of getting stuck in her small town or venturing into the world, alone, leaving behind everything she knows. She makes some very bad choices along the way, as she explores her own desires and pushes boundaries. Though it’s set in the early ‘90s, The Ocean in My Ears will resonate with today’s teens, even without the prevalence of social media. In ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's a wonderful YA novel when a 55 year old woman reads it and finds herself rooting for a teenage girl. Set in Alaska, Meri Miller isn't sure which boy she wants, but she's going to make it fun for readers to find out. Meagan Macvie inhabits the heart, mind and soul of teen girls. Meri is facing her beloved grandmother's serious illness; her best friend has gone MIA for a new boy friend, she can't figure out who she really wants to be with, and her family is facing more serious issues (hate to ...more
Ari Mathae
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Ocean in My Ears is touching and familiar. From the first chapter, a scene featuring the young protagonist Meri, sitting in church as her pastor rants about the evils of "fornication," I knew that this book would ring true to the experience of a young woman on the verge of adult life out of the small town she's known forever. I connected with the protagonist, remembering my own time of pushing against the faith of my family and trying to grow into adult experiences.

Macvie's writing and char
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Meagan grew up in Alaska writing poems about injustice and hot boys. She left Alaska to study poetry and literature then spent fifteen years in government communications before breaking up with her career to pursue creative writing. She earned her MFA in fiction at Pacific Lutheran University’s Rainier Writing Workshop. She currently lives in The Netherlands.

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