Olive was killed in an accident, and Martha hardly knew her. Olive's mother gives Martha a page from Olive's journal with Olive's wishes, and one of them was that she and Martha could become friends. As Martha heads to the beach to visit her grandmother, she thinks a lot about how fragile life is, and how quickly relationships change. Whether she is caring for her baby sister, missing her older brother's attention, frustrated with her mother, humiliated by a boy, or worried about how much time she has left with her grandmother, Martha's worries will be familiar to many readers.
The author writes beautifully, and handles details of Martha's world with deft realism: the main character wonders whether some of her quirky habits are too childish, and realizes that her grandmother has secrets, just as she does. The story unfolds over the course of a summer vacation, and raises some good discussion topics about the complex nature of family relationships, and change. There is not a lot of humor or surprise, but Martha's character is dealing with several issues that resonate with the target audience. It is an excellent model to use for student writing activities, as many passages are thoughtfully crafted. The use of profanity may prevent it from being an appropriate choice for some school literature circles.
"If embarrassment were a noise, sirens would be blaring from every one of my pores, she thought."
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