I love Kevin Henkes. You probably do too. Have you read…
The writing in Olive’s Ocean is a treasure. Who knew such a brilliant story teller and illustrator for the young could write something so rich and beautiful!
The characters are interesting and real. The subject matter is mature and handled tenderly – but it’s still a bit mature for me in thinking of a young reader. I probably wouldn’t want H7 to read this until she is 15 or 16.
But here’s why you should read it. The book is written from Martha Boyle’s perspective, who is a very typical 12-year-old girl. On the exterior, she looks like what we all might expect. She talks on the phone a lot, has a tenuous relationship with an annoying older brother, loves and loathes her parents, is in that strange place of being too old for flowery wallpaper, but not old enough to know what she wants instead.
Seeing the world through her eyes though, was insightful. She is wise, inquisitive, whimsical, perceptive, and kind, yet most of these qualities go unnoticed. She is simply Martha – chatty, red-headed, pre-teen, adolescent. Even her parents seem very unaware of her rich inner life.
So, again, why read this? Because, we all need to look afresh on our children and try to engage them in ways that allow these beautiful qualities to find expression. We need to see beyond the obvious, transitional, and awkward phases that make them hard to be with or inconvenient. There are wonders stewing and growing underneath it all. This book reminded me of all that a 12-year-old can know and feel.
It’s a fast read – a couple of hours tops – but you’ll enjoy each moment, and probably look with new, tender, and interested eyes on someone in your little family – and that’s a good thing.