“It’s an easy swim,” she said to herself. “Do it and shut up.” Before she could give herself any more time to think, Clio walked into the water.
On paper, a summer trip to Italy spent cruising the Mediterranean on a beautiful yacht sounds like paradise. To seventeen-year-old Clio Ford, however, it is a nightmare–not only is she leaving behind her new job that will bring her closer to 6’5, gorgeous potential boyfriend, Ollie, this vacation will bring her in uncomfortably close proximity to her estranged, irritatingly whimsical father. Ahoy, disaster!
Ever since I was introduced to Maureen Johnson’s books in high school, I have appreciated her unique voice: she’s hilarious, but not overtly so: her characters’ reactions and observations are sharp, witty, and direct. Clio is certainly no exception. Although she’s an unwilling crew member longing for home, Johnson’s writing expertly toes the line between bratty teenager and curious young woman, as Clio must not only deal with her father, but the companions he brought along–each with their own secrets and hidden agendas.
Clio is named for the ancient Greek muse of history; a theme that is woven throughout the story, and one that Clio must untangle as she drifts further from home. Alongside Elsa, the curvaceous blond ‘dairy queen’; Martin, the trusted family friend; Julia, her father’s brisk new girlfriend; and infuriatingly arrogant and attractive Aidan, she embarks upon a journey that will take her to places she didn’t expect, with a few surprising epiphanies along the way.
I have to admit, I thought I’d had the ending of the story pegged from around the middle of the book, but in typical Maureen Johnson fashion, the story veered sharply from where I believed it was headed, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Despite a twinge of disappointment at one of Clio’s suspicions turning out to be false, Girl At Sea was a truly enjoyable, and at times, strikingly poignant read. Deep-sea diving enthusiasts are in for special treat, but for the water-wary, never fear: there’s more than enough intrigue to keep this story afloat.
Girl At Sea, Maureen Johnson, Harper Teen (Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers), New York, NY, 2007.