Synopses & 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 more complicated when Martha begins to like Jimmy Manning, a neighbor boy she used to despise. What is going on? Can life for Martha be the same ever again?
"With his usual sensitivity and insight, Henkes (The Birthday Room) explores key issues of adolescence, through the observations of aspiring 12-year-old writer Martha Boyle. In the opening scene on an August morning in Madison, Wis., Martha receives a visitor: the mother of her classmate Olive Barstow, who was hit by a car the month before. The woman hands Martha a journal entry, in which Olive describes her own wish to be a writer and to 'get to know Martha Boyle next year... the nicest person in my whole entire class.' Since Olive kept to herself, these revelations forge an unexpected bond between Martha and this classmate she never knew. The other hope Olive confides in the entry is that she could 'one day... go to a real ocean such as the Atlantic or Pacific.' Martha begins an unwitting pilgrimage of sorts: she strolls with her toddler sister to the corner where Olive died and, when she goes to visit her grandmother, Godbee, on Cape Cod, Martha experiences the ocean for Olive and for herself. In brief chapters, Henkes reveals Martha's discovery of life's fleeting qualities, her deepening bond with Godbee, and her first stirrings of romantic feeling and betrayal. Readers can peer through this brief window into Martha's life and witness a maturation, as she becomes a young woman, appreciates life anew and finds a way to give something back to Olive. Ages 10-up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Henkess story is subtle and satisfyingly untidy. Grabs you right from the start.” Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Lyrically written.” Seattle Times
“The ever versatile Kevin Henkes dazzles with this spare yet profoundly touching coming-of-age novel.” Family Fun Magazine
“With his usual sensitivity and insight, Henkes explores key issues of adolescence.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An eloquent journey into adolescence.” Florida Times-Union
“Martha Boyle is one of the memorable 12yearold girls of fiction, smart, confused, compassionate.” KLIATT (starred review)
“Rich characterizations move this compelling novel to its satisfying and emotionally authentic conclusion.” School Library Journal (starred review)
“With beautifully defined characters, events, and emotions that will tug at your heart, this novel is flawless.” Daily Item
“Few girls will fail to recognize themselves in Martha.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"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 can't stop thinking about Olive. A family summer on Cape Cod should help banish those thoughts; instead, they seep in everywhere.
And this year Martha's routine at her beloved grandmother's beachside house is complicated by the Manning boys. Jimmy, Tate, Todd, Luke, and Leo. But especially Jimmy. What if, what if, what if, what if? The world can change in a minute.
About the Author
Kevin Henkes lives in Madison, Wisconsin. His novels include the Newbery Honor book Olive's Ocean
, and The Birthday Room
, Protecting Marie
and Words of Stone.
Among his picture books are Owen,
a 1994 Caldecott Honor Book; Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse;
and Julius, the Baby of the World.
His latest picture book is Kitten's First Full Moon
In His Own Words...
"I remember drawing at a very early age. I loved it. And my parents and teachers told me I was good at it -- that made me love it all the more.
"I also loved books, and the ones I was lucky enough to own were reread, looked at over and over, and regarded with great respect. To me great respect' meant that I took them everywhere, and the ones I still own prove it. They're brimming with all the telltale signs of true love: dog-eared pages, fingerprints on my favorite illustrations, my name and address inscribed on both front and back covers in inch-high crayon lettering, and the faint smell of stale peanut butter on the bindings. I wondered about authors and illustrators back then -- What did they look like? Where did they live? Did they have families? How old were they? -- but I never imagined that one day I would be one myself.
"I became an author-illustrator when I was nineteen years old. I flew from my home in Racine, Wisconsin, to New York City with my portfolio, hoping to find a publisher. And magically enough Susan Hirschman at Greenwillow Books made my dream come true. My first picture book, All Alone,was published in 1987. Since then I've written and illustrated many picture books and written several novels. I like the variety of trying new ways to fill the pages between two covers. Experimenting with words and paint and ink keeps my job interesting.
"I used to live with my parents and brothers and sister and work at a card table in my bedroom. Now I live with my wife, my son, and my daughter in our own house and work at a drawing table in my own studio. I never thought I'd be lucky enough to be a real author and illustrator. I wouldn't trade it for anything."