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Stuff for the Teen Age

Girl at Sea: A Review

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Seventeen-year-old Clio Ford has the perfect summer planned. She’s managed to snag a job at her favorite art store where her dream boy is already employed–the first time her crazy tattoo has been good for something. Working in the art store will give Clio a 30% discount, dibs on returned art supplies, and full access to Ollie. For an entire summer.

Clio has never been kissed but with this foolproof summer, she’s sure her time is coming.

The only problem is she isn’t going to be in the country this summer.

Instead of a summer romance she’s getting... Clio isn’t actually sure what she’s getting. Life with her father can be like that. Madcap and reckless, he and Clio achieved a minor level of fame as creators of a popular board game. But that was another life. And Clio has finally gotten used to her new life. Without her father.

Until now.

The summer definitely involves a boat in Italy and one of her father’s ridiculous schemes. It will also feature Julia, his scary new girlfriend. To make the summer even more unbearable, Clio will also get to spend it with Julia’s daughter Elsa of the effortless charm and goddess-like beauty and Julia’s assistant Aidan of the strange haircut, extreme arrogance and really intense eyes.

Clio’s summer has all the makings of a perfect disaster. Or maybe things can be disastrously perfect in Girl at Sea (2007) by Maureen Johnson.

Every time I start one of Maureen Johnson’s books, I expect to recognize her writing style or her voice. I spend so much time reading her blog and twitter updates that it seems reasonable to assume her books will all have that same voice. They don’t. Every time I start a new Maureen Johnson book I am amazed that every character has a totally different personality, every narrative sounds unique, and even each book’s design is something special.

For years I believed Girl at Sea was the sequel to 13 Little Blue Envelopes. It isn’t (although in my defense the covers are very similar–I prefer this one).

Now that it’s clear what this book is not, it is safe to say that it is excellent.

Clio’s life is anything but ordinary which makes her story really engaging. Part treasure hunt, part reconciliation, Girl at Sea blends a bunch of unlikely genres to create a story filled with adventure, romance and Johnson’s signature humor (the one thing that really does seem to come through in every book).

Possible Pairings: King of the Screwups by K. L. Going, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley, Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe, Jungle Crossing by Sydney Salter

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