TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
First off, I adore Maureen Johnson! If you haven't checked out her other books like "13 Little Blue Envelopes" and "Devilish," stop reading this blog, head to the Library, and pick up a copy. Ok, are you back now? 😉
"Girl at Sea" is a blend of coming of age, romance, and adventure with a dash of historical fiction. At first, I was worried Maureen might not be able to weave all these apparently disparate threads together, but she does so beautifully.
Our heroine here is 17 year-old Clio, an artistic, independent teen. Against her wishes, Clio ends up spending the summer not at her Philadelphia home but on a yacht searching for sunken treasure along the Italian coast with her eccentric father; his new archaeologist girlfriend; the girlfriend's beautiful Swedish daughter, Elsa; an old family friend; and a young engineering student from Yale named Aidan. When Elsa decides to make Aidan her boyfriend, Clio has no real objection. After all, she's crushing on Ollie, the tall, sweet art store worker who barely knows she exists. But then Clio gets stung by jellyfish — many, many times in one night — and after Aidan's gentle care, something changes for both of them. You'll love watching how Clio battles her growing feelings for Aidan with her loyalty toward Elsa.
Plus, I haven't even talked about the sunken treasure, the "Marguerite Stone," which may or may not be the key to deciphering ancient alien languages (!). Factor in Clio's strained relationship with her dad, her dad's crazy secretive ways during the entire trip, and a group of Italian hijackers, and you may start to get some idea what this story is about.
Like I said, there's a lot going on here, and most of it works so well that you'll ignore the pieces that don't fit in perfectly. The tentative romance between Clio and Aidan would probably be enough to satisfy most readers, so consider the mystery of the Marguerite Stone and the other adventures as just extra fun. This is a great book for teen girls for the summer (maybe 7th graders and up) who are looking for a page-turning mix of romance, action, and family drama, with a splash of humor and sarcasm, of course. I definitely recommend it!