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How to Make Friends with the Sea

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  148 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Pablo is homesick.

He’s only twelve years old, but he’s lived in more countries than he can count. After his parents divorced, he and his mother have moved from place to place for years, never settling anywhere long enough to call it home. And along the way, Pablo has collected more and more fears: of dirt, of germs, and most of all, of the ocean.

Now they’re living in the
Published March 31st 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Tanya Hi Nicholas! Thanks so much. The cover was illustrated by the talented, Christine Almeda.

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Average rating 4.49  · 
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Liz Lawson
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA is a stunning MG debut from the enormously talented Tanya Guerrero. It's a book about friendship, love, and family, and how all three of those things can work to help heal our wounds. I absolutely loved this book, in large part because of Guerrero's beautiful descriptions of the Philippines, a place I have never been but now I feel I know well. Guerrero's MG voice is strong and spot-on perfect, to the point where I could picture Pablo as I read -- I felt like he ...more
Raquel Gilliland
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA is a book I wish I could somehow give to eleven-year-old me. It’s a stunning story that made me completely forget to answer the phone or make lunch or check emails as I read.

Pablo and his mom move to someplace new every few months. They’ve lived in Indonesia, Kenya, and Costa Rica, and one month ago, they moved to the Philippines. Throughout the book, we readers are treated to lush descriptions of Pablo’s life in his new home, from the SM Mall to the wilderness
Shannon Doleski
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this stunning middle grade debut, Pablo moves to the Philippines for his mother's job at an animal sanctuary. The reader will discover the lush setting as the narrator does. Guerrero beautifully weaves multiple languages and cultures in a story about a boy accepting himself. The portrayal of Pablo's anxiety is sensitive and pragmatic. This is sure to be an award winner, and I am so lucky to have read it early.
Apr 03, 2020 marked it as will-avoid-forever  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ownvoices-review
Note: I am only own-voices for the Filipino representation. I cannot comment on the authenticity of the OCD representation.


When How to Make Friends with the Sea was more or less introduced as a 12-year-old white boy befriending an orphaned brown girl from the Philippines and this ~*friendship*~ leading to his character development, I immediately had reservations about this debut.

Nevertheless, I read a preview of this book on Amazon so I can make an informed decision about whether or not to purc
Meghan Maugeri
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just adored Tanya Guerrero’s HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA! It’s a poignant debut novel about twelve-year-old Pablo, who experiences extreme anxiety, and a charming orphan who comes to live with him. Author Tanya Guerrero’s beautifully crafted words pulled me into Pablo’s rich inner world from the opening page. His thought processes, his insecurities, his anxieties, his coping mechanisms. I felt like I was right there beside Pablo in every scene, feeling his feelings along with him in such ...more
Kaela Rivera
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mg-lit
This novel is a lovely introduction to the Philippines, animal sanctuaries, and learning to cope with anxiety through Pablo's honest and emotional journey. A moving story about a boy who feels displaced, both because of his mind and his new country, and his journey to grow, to speak up, and to make friends. HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA is deeply satisfying, and its happy ending isn't saccharine or unrealistic. It's honest but hopeful, and the "things are getting better" feeling is earned and ...more
Kristin Lambert
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of 12-year-old Pablo, who has moved around the world often with his mom and is having a hard time adjusting to his new home in the Philippines, especially since his OCD is flaring up worse than ever. Like any kid who moves to a new place and is missing the old one, he starts out pretty hostile and judgmental about the people and customs of the Philippines, but over time, he learns they have so much to offer, and that this might just feel like the best home he’s ever had.

I read
Prerna Pickett
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tanya Guerrero’s MG debut, How to Make Friends with the Sea, is a tender story that will warm your heart. The book follows Pablo as his life is thrown for a loop, on his birthday of all days, by the arrival of a young girl named Chiqui. Pablo’s worldview is unique and I loved watching him navigate his insecurities and anxieties along with the twists and turns of life. Pablo is a strong character and his voice shines through, from the way he goes through his every day rituals to his descriptions ...more
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA is perfect for any reader who has felt their differences stripped their control. Protagonist Pablo struggles silently with crippling anxiety and feels unable to rely on the adults in his life - from his ever-moving and preoccupied mother, to his absent and emotionally distant father. Over the course of the novel, Pablo not only learns to adapt to change, but when to speak up and regain control as well. Guerroro's vibrant prose will transport readers to Pablo's ne ...more
Francesca Flores
This book was incredible! There's so much here that readers of all ages, but especially kids, can connect with; feeling out of place (especially kids who move around a lot), challenging family relationships, and Pablo's mental health struggles. Pablo is very relatable and sweet, funny and endearing. I rooted for him from page one, and I ended up binge reading this engrossing story on one flight! Also, it made me cry. That means it's a new fave.

Make sure to put this on your TBR for 2020!!
Jennifer Moffett
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: roaring20s
As someone who reads mostly adult and YA, I will admit this is the first middle grade I’ve read in a very long time. Having said that, I absolutely could not put this book down!

HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA is gorgeously written and breathtakingly atmospheric. The reader experiences every moment through 12-year-old Pablo’s perspective in a way that makes your own heart feel just as vulnerable—but also just as hopeful—as his.

Struggling with phobias from an unpredictable nomadic life that brou
Shannon Takaoka
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: roaring20sdebut
It’s hard to feel different, especially when you are 12 years old. Pablo has anxiety about everything – the germs on the ground and in the air, messes, noise, crowds and meeting new people. One of his biggest phobias is the ocean, which kind of is a bummer when you live in the Philippines, where the ocean is never far away. And ever since his mom and dad split, Pablo also feels sad and alone, making his anxiety even worse. When his mom temporarily takes in a little girl named Chiqui who has been ...more
Cassie Thomas
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pablo is definitely a child after my own heart. Struggling with a mental illness not quite diagnosed, but along the lines of extreme anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Pablo feels weird- out of place- partly due to his amount of fears, but also because he misses home; California, and never wanted to be a traveler of the world after his parents divorce. Now though, he has found refuge in the Philippines and a newfound family in his moms foster daughter Chiqui. This is a story of resilienc ...more
Ms. Yingling
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Pablo parents are divorced, and h hasn't seen his American father for a while, since he is off on his own adventures while Pablo and his Spanish mother have moved from country to country. They have landed in the Philippines, where his mother is working in an animal sanctuary. While Pablo is glad to be in one place for a while, he is not a fan of the Philippines. It's damp, dirty, and far too close to the sea for his liking, although he doesn't want to tell his mother t
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book.

This is a book that I absolutely LOVED. It's still too fresh in my mind to review it without gushing about it, but this will definitely make it on to my list of favorites for 2020 and is a book that I HIGHLY recommend you add to your TBR lists.

Pablo has moved many times; he and his mom currently live in the Philippines but he doesn't feel like he belong anywhere. Not only does he have trouble making friends, but he has a number o
Emma Katherine
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read my full review here:

Opinions: I am overwhelmed with the amount of positive things I can say about How to Make Friends With the Sea. To start, I will simply say it is a must-read for older elementary and younger middle schoolers because of its inspirational and exceptional themes. Even as a new adult, I learned so much through Pablo's conditions, Chiqui's perseverance, and Miguel's passion. I can't just applaud the plot, though. This story wouldn't be
Arianne Costner
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was so beautifully written and touching. I enjoyed being inside Pablo’s head. He is such a sweet, endearing kid and you root for him the whole time. I wanted to give him a big hug!

The setting is in the Philippines, which was interesting and unique! I’ve never read a book set there, and I’m so glad now I have! It sounds like a beautiful place. I learned lots of cool cultural info.

Great coming-of-age story. Enjoyable for adults as well as children. Pablo really grows throughout the stor
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you can bear to take your eyes away from this lovely, contemplative cover then you’re in for an even more beautiful, vivid story as soon as you begin reading. HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA, Tanya Guerrero’s debut releasing 3/31/20, will transport you to the Philippines with her striking descriptions and authentic language used seamlessly throughout the heartfelt story (excellent glossary in the back as well). Twelve-year-old Pablo has the most kind and delicate soul, but is often overcome ...more
Cathleen Barnhart
HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA is an important and beautiful addition to the world of Middle Grade literature. I fell in love with Pablo immediately, and I am certain that middle school kids -- especially the many, many who are dealing with anxiety -- will also love him and love this book. Pablo's struggles to control an out-of-control world are both heartbreaking and heartbreakingly real. Any child whose parents are separated or divorced, or who has had to leave a familiar home, or who has fa ...more
Betty Culley
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to receive an ARC of Tanya Guerrero’s middle grade novel HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA. I read it in a day! The main character, Pablo, and Chiqui, an orphaned girl with a cleft lip who comes to stay with Pablo and his mother, both captured my heart for different reasons. I also enjoyed the loving relationship between Pablo and his mom, and the way other people who entered his life tried to understand and help him. Pablo’s journey to self-understanding and self-acceptance, as w ...more
Kaela Noel
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, I loved this book and could not put it down! Tender and emotionally complex characters, a vivid and memorable setting, great prose, fantastic pacing, gentle humor—HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA has it all.

Pablo is a sensitive, highly perceptive 12-year-old struggling with anxiety and phobias stemming from his parents’ separation and his mom’s decision to hopscotch with Pablo from country to country for her work as a wildlife conservationist. They recently landed in the Philippines, and P
Kate Waggoner
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-read
Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for sharing a digital advanced copy of How to Make Friends with the Sea by Tanya Guerrero with me. This book will be published on March 31, 2020. All opinions are my own.

Pablo is a twelve-year-old boy who, following his parents' divorce, has moved more times than he can count. At the moment, he and his mother are living in the Philippines. Because of their moves, Pablo has had a hard time making friends and has developed many fear
Sheila Averbuch
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved the realistic struggle Pablo experiences in navigating his anxiety and OCD, against the backdrop of constant upheaval as his is wildlife-worker mother continually relocates then, this time to the Philippines. It's an excellent and sensitive portrayal that reminded me of another one of my favourite books, Lisa Thompson's mystery The Goldfish Boy. A great choice for young readers who love stories about bravery and family. I especially loved seeing Pablo go from dreading young Chiqui coming ...more
Stacy Hackney
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA is a beautiful debut. Pablo is so sensitively drawn. In fact, all the characters are well-developed. I love how Pablo grows over the course of the story and especially adored the relationship that develops between him and Chiqui. This book may make you tear up but will leave you with a heart full of hope as well!
Paul Mosier
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had a great time visiting The Philippines with Pablo and Chiqui and Happy, etc. colorful, emotional, uplifting. I’m so happy for Tanya—my first ever agency sister—for her wonderful accomplishment. Can’t wait for the next!
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a beautiful story of family, love, friendship and acceptance. I appreciate that it dealt with mental health and allowed readers a way to experience what someone with anxiety and OCD goes through.
Aug 18, 2020 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: no-thanks
I was really excited for this book but the more I learn about it, the more disappointed I am. Honestly, the author's bio was already a huge red flag.

Shealea sums it up better than I can:
Kelly Farnsworth
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I just finished reading Tanya Guerrero’s debut, How to Make Friends With the Sea. Pablo’s dad left the family and it’s been just Pablo and his zoologist mom traveling from one place to another. They are now living in the Philippines but Pablo is still struggling with his fear of germs as well as his fear of the ocean. Many of these things that he struggles with were sparked with his earlier experiences with his father, who is still very distant. Pablo’s mom is asked to help take care of Chiqui- ...more
Kelly Mangan
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mg, mg-2020
This is an incredibly touching sibling story, as well as a story about conquering your fears & finding where you belong. I related deeply to the MC’s issues with anxiety & OCD as well. Highly recommend ...more
Afoma Umesi
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to the author for an e-ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

How to Make Friends with the Sea is a shining debut that skillfully handles multiple issues, from adoption to anxiety to coping with parental separation and divorce. With this book set in the Philippines, you can be sure to experience the vibrant culture, food, and heart of the Filipino people in its pages. I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s ready for a heartwarming adventure.

Read my full review here.
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Tanya Guerrero is Filipino and Spanish by birth, but has been fortunate enough to call three countries home—the Philippines, Spain, and the United States. Currently, she lives in a shipping container home in the suburbs of Manila with her husband, daughter, and a menagerie of rescued cats and dogs. In her free time, she grows her own food, bakes bread, and reads. Her debut, How to Make Friends wit ...more

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