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Girl at Sea

Review

Girl at Sea

The summer before Clio's senior year is shaping up to be nearly perfect. First, there's her job at Galaxy Art Supply. Not only is Galaxy a place where she can indulge her love of art, but six-foot-five, shaggy-haired, vintage-dressed Ollie is employed there. Ollie and Clio aren't dating yet, but if Clio has anything to say about it, it's just a matter of time.

All of that changes when Clio's mother, a restorer at the Philadelphia Art Museum, drops a bombshell: She has won a fellowship that will pay off her student loans and give her a salary at the same time. It will involve doing work she loves --- restoring 16th-century paintings. What's the catch? The work has to be done in Kansas. Without consulting Clio, her mom has made an executive decision. Clio's father, Ben, wants to take her to Italy over the summer, and Clio is going whether she likes it or not.

Clio knows she sounds like a petulant brat when she thinks about it. How many other kids get the chance to go to amazing foreign countries over the summer? But other kids don't have her father. Ben is the source of a lot of angst in Clio's life. He has dragged her all over the world on weird "educational" opportunities. Because of him, Clio lives in a house that leans five inches to one side and has a tattoo that looks like a zipper running around one arm.

When she arrives in Italy, Clio finds that her dad is acting secretively. Instead of a house or a villa, they're spending the summer on a yacht with Ben's girlfriend Julia, her curmudgeonly, green-eyed research assistant Aidan, her Swedish dairy goddess daughter Elsa, and the only sane one of the bunch, Ben's best friend Martin. Clio is put to work immediately, cooking for everyone on the boat, but all the chicken korma recipes in the world can't stave off her curiosity about why they're on the boat and why her dad insists on code names and secretive behavior. The only person more frustrating to Clio than her dad is Aidan. He's snobby and thinks he's smarter than everyone else, and he'd be so easy to hate if he weren't so intense.

Clio decides that her father, Martin, Julia and Aidan can't keep her in the dark forever, and she's willing to take a few risks to find out what the adults are diving for all day long. What she discovers about herself, however, might be even more important than what's on the bottom of the ocean.

Travel to Europe once again with Maureen Johnson, who will make you feel like you too are spending a very hot summer on a yacht miles from shore. Half the fun of this book is watching a historical mystery concerning a powerful stone unfold around thoroughly modern Clio. All the people here are interesting and real, even though you might not want to hang out with them in real life. Stuck in your hometown for the summer? Pick up GIRL AT SEA and travel to lands an ocean (or two) away. Just be careful of the jellyfish.

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Reviewed by Carlie Webber on October 18, 2011

Girl at Sea
by Maureen Johnson

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • ISBN-10: 006054144X
  • ISBN-13: 9780060541446