Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Olive's Ocean” as Want to Read:
Olive's Ocean
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Olive's Ocean

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  12,975 ratings  ·  1,286 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
...more
Hardcover, 217 pages
Published August 12th 2003 by Greenwillow Books (first published January 1st 2001)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Olive's Ocean, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,975 ratings  ·  1,286 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Olive's Ocean
Mindy
Sep 02, 2008 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
Ingrid
Oct 17, 2008 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
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
...more
Ronyell
Apr 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of angst romance!
life

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
...more
elissa
Mar 15, 2008 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 grandch ...more
Christine
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
~me~
Jan 07, 2008 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.
Jasprit
May 27, 2011 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
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
...more
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
Brooke
Oct 20, 2008 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.
Stefani
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
...more
Lilly J
Aug 19, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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. ...more
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
...more
Agnė
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
...more
Linda Lipko
Dec 26, 2010 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
...more
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
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
It was OK but I really don't think it deserved a Newbery.
Lisa Kucinski
Sep 29, 2008 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!
Nadia Uhlenhaker
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-buy
I have no words for this book because they will do it no justice.
Mhairi Holmes
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Adriana
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
...more
Evan Yang
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
Christina
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
...more
Annette
Oct 24, 2009 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
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
...more
Emily Ne
I read the book "Olive's Ocean" for a school book report. I really enjoyed the book, but I have some comments about it. I think this book is a lighter read and I didn't have any trouble understanding anything. Although sometimes I think it is nice to have a bit of a challenge while reading. One thing I liked about the book was the main character Martha, Kevin Henkes portrays her character really well. He builds up the character so by the end you are very familiar with Martha. I also enjoyed the ...more
Shannon
Aug 15, 2008 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
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Spring 2019, Wild...: Review #7 1 2 Apr 05, 2019 11:54PM  
Olivies Ocean 10 52 Nov 25, 2014 08:07PM  
Highland Hornets ...: Mercedes's Review 6 8 Nov 05, 2012 07:52AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Joey Pigza Loses Control (Joey Pigza, #2)
  • Penny from Heaven
  • Surviving the Applewhites (Applewhites, #1)
  • Rules
  • Pictures of Hollis Woods
  • A Corner of the Universe
  • Turtle in Paradise
  • Getting Near to Baby
  • Ida B. . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World
  • Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
  • Kira-Kira
  • Sector 7
  • How to Be a Girl in the World
  • Everything on a Waffle (Coal Harbour #1)
  • Ravi's Roar
  • So B. It (So B. It, #1)
  • The Boy From the Basement
  • Hope Was Here
See similar books…
903 followers
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.

Related Articles

Karen M. McManus, the bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret, and One of Us Is Next, doesn’t shy away from secrets and...
63 likes · 4 comments
“Now smile a real smile for me so I know you`re not suffering inside.” 12 likes
“As she wove in and out of all the people - rushing, talking, eating, laughing; some in clumps, some alone - she realized that no one, no one at all in the airport, or on the entire planet for that matter, knew her thoughts, knew what she was carrying inside her head and heart. And at that very minute, what was inside her head and heart made her feel as though there was no one else in the whole world she would rather be.” 11 likes
More quotes…