The Ocean in My Ears
DescriptionMeri Miller lives in Soldotna, Alaska. Never heard of it? That's because in Slowdotna the most riveting activities for a teenager are salmon fishing and grabbing a Big Gulp at the local 7-Eleven. More than anything, Meri wants to hop in her VW Bug and head somewhere exciting, like New York or L.A. or any city where going to the theater doesn't only mean the movies. Everything is so scripted here--don't have too much fun, date this guy because he's older and popular, stay put because that's what everyone else does. But when her senior year should be all boys, SAT prep, and prom drama, Meri feels more and more distance between herself and the people she loves. Her grandma dies, her brother gets hurt, and even her best friend checks out to spend more time with some guy. As she struggles with family, grief, friends, and hormones, Meri must decide if she really is ready for the world beyond her backyard. Meagan Macvie's debut novel, The Ocean in My Ears, raises questions of love, purpose, and the power to choose your own future even when your future's the thing that scares you the most.
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About the Author
On the last summer before her senior year of high school, Meridith "Meri" Miller sets off to find what Soldotna, Alaska has to offer, which is not much. She spends time with her best friend and Charlie-who is quite the character-and explores relationships with boys, goes to parties, to work, and to the movies. Aside from those activities, she dreams of the day she can pack her bags and move the heck away from this small Alaskan town. And she sees college as this escape.
Macvie beautifully captures the raw spirit of young love, friendship, and family through the interactions and the mixed writing methods she uses to characterize Meri. Meri's voice is sharp and engaging, making the book's narrative strong. And the charm of Dairy Queen-hopping and other aspects of small-town life are endearing. Macvie made another excellent choice in placing the novel in the 1990s, allowing for letter writing and landline phone calls instead of the texting that takes place in a lot of recent YA novels. For me, part of the appeal of this book arises from the normalcy of the events. While not every teenager deals with the same family issues, friend drama, or boy problems, the day-to-day nature of the novel aids in the reader's understanding of Meri's reality and in relating to her circumstances. But, for some readers, this pacing could draw out the experience of the book and might make it a multi-day read (not a bad thing&). The only major pitfall for me as a reader was that I felt as though some of the stakes raised in the second half of the novel were life happening to Meri, and not Meri experiencing life. Too much almost happened too fast, and some of it seemed like it was placed just to add another experience for Meri to go through instead of to build on the natural feeling mentioned early. That being said, I rather enjoyed the book and found it suitable and a good read for older young adults.--San Francisco Book Review
A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl has the potential to be incredibly cliche--but when you place it in Alaska, and add in dealing with the death of a beloved grandmother and family stress, finding your way as a teen becomes real. The cover is gorgeous, the writing is sharp and incisive, and the slightly irreverent tone makes this book one I'm really excited about. Besides, it's set in the 1990s, which makes me nostalgic for my own teenage years, and made it really fun to read. A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl has the potential to be incredibly cliche--but when you place it in Alaska, and add in dealing with the death of a beloved grandmother and family stress, finding your way as a teen becomes real. The cover is gorgeous, the writing is sharp and incisive, and the slightly irreverent tone makes this book one I'm really excited about. Besides, it's set in the 1990s, which makes me nostalgic for my own teenage years, and made it really fun to read. --Jaime Herndon--BookRiot
Meri is complex. Heading into her senior year of high school, she's desperate to leave her tiny Alaska town (a town known for two things--salmon fishing and having the highest per capita teen birthrate in the nation), but also terrified of leaving behind everything she knows. She has sex with a creepy older guy she's dating but is also worried that it's a sin and she might regret it (also, he's a terrible human being but she hangs out with him for waaaaay too long). She doesn't reveal anything about her life to her distant (both emotionally and physically) parents but longs for someone to do some parenting and for them to maybe understand her or even just see her. She has big dreams and big doubts. She's been raised in a religious setting, having gone to Christian school until junior high. Her mother, and the church, repeatedly drive home the point that sex outside of marriage is a sin. It's terrible, awful, you will go to hell, you will get diseases, you will get pregnant. Meri hears all of this but still wants to make her own choices, come to her own conclusions. It's never easy stumbling your way through adolescence (the only way through is by stumbling, I think), but Meri is having a particularly hard time senior year. Her dad is either always off working in the oil fields or at home ordering her around, her grandma is dying (and her mom is gone for much of the book in Idaho tending to Meri's grandma), her best friend has ditched her for a boy, and she likes Joaquin, a nice dude who she worries her parents won't approve of, but instead dates jerky oaf Brett. She's trying to figure out what she wants in life, but that's hard to do in her tiny, isolated town with the constant talk of judging, sinning, and Satan.
Set in 1990, this look at a small town girl feeling trapped, frustrated, and ready to explore bigger horizons will appeal to fans of Carrie Mesrobian's Just a Girl and other realistic YA where the main plot is the day-to-day existence of a teenager just trying to figure it all out.
--Amanda MacGregor, Teen Librarian Toolbox --School Library Journal
Set in the early 1990s, Macvie's debut novel follows 17-year-old Meri Miller during her last year of high school in (very) small-town Soldotna, Alaska, yet the year turns out to be anything but uneventful. As she seeks a way to leave Alaska for college, she navigates her first sexual encounter, the loss of her grandmother, a friend who drifts away, and the stifling rules of her religious parents. The novel is interspersed with pages from Meri's diary, as well as letters she exchanges with friends and family, demonstrating Meri's careful work toward becoming a writer. The writing is raw and occasionally verges on melodramatic in its true-to-life capturing of an adolescent voice, as when Meri's will clashes with her mother's ("I want to tell Joquin the truth about dating Brett and what happened, but I don't want to wreck what I have now with him"). As Meri learns to trust her gut instincts in a variety of situations, Macvie movingly explores the ever-shifting highs and lows of adolescence. Ages 14-up. (Nov.)--Publishers Weekly
A teenager yearns to escape her mundane life and sleepy hometown in Alaska for the excitement that surely awaits her in a bigger city or a college town in the lower forty-eight states in this debut young-adult novel by Pacific Northwest author Meagan Macvie.
Meri Miller feels trapped by the same people and their predictable routines she has known her whole life, and she is growing tired of her own predictable schedule of eating junk food with her best friend at the 7-Eleven, soggy fries and ice cream at the Dairy Queen or sitting through another church sermon. As she begins her senior year of high school, she begins trying new things like going to parties, making out with older boys and dip-netting for salmon.
Graduation can't come soon enough for a teen who's ready to be an adult, but the harder Meri tries to plan her escape from the place she's known her whole life, the troubles of adulthood, family and responsibility start to force their way into her life and threaten to derail her plans. Her grandmother gets sick, her brother gets hurt and her best friend is never around when she needs her. There are times when she wants to scream at the top of her lungs, but screaming doesn't seem to solve the problems of adolescence.
Macvie writes in a revealing, personal manner that alternates between biting journal entries, heartfelt letters to family members and a thoughtful introspection that challenges her own dissatisfaction. Many times I felt as though I was still a high school freshman, reading my big sister's diary--simultaneously embarrassed and intrigued to read what happens next.
Teenagers tend to practice adult-ish behaviors around each other to prove they are mature, like getting drunk, cursing insults and getting into jealous fights, but once we become adults we come to understand these childish behaviors are marks of grown-up bodies with underdeveloped minds. Real adulthood is racked by the burdens of compromise and responsibility, and by the end of Macvie's "The Ocean in My Ears," we begin to see Meri turn toward the path of mental and emotional maturity as her character comes of age in a world that has yet to discover the Internet or social media.--Pacific Northwest Book Review
"An unforgettable journey to adulthood." --Kirkus, Starred Review "As Meri learns to trust her gut instincts in a variety of situations, Macvie movingly explores the ever-shifting highs and lows of adolescence.” --Publishers Weekly "The 11 New YA Novels You Need To Watch Out For In November 2017" --Caitlin White, Bustle /div> "Macvie deftly captures the painful but necessary lessons about family, friendship, love and being true to oneself that mark adolescence." --Amy Wang, The Oregonian VERDICT A strong debut novel featuring memorable, relatable characters making adult decisions at the edge of high school in a fantastically drawn Alaskan setting." --Elizabeth Nicolai, School Library Journal "Meri's first-person account is strikingly original, with frank discussion of sexual experiences, religious posturing, and stilted family dynamics." --Booklist "The cover is gorgeous, the writing is sharp and incisive, and the slightly irreverent tone makes this book one I'm really excited about. Besides, it's set in the 1990s, which makes me nostalgic for my own teenage years, and made it really fun to read." --Jaime Herndon, BookRiot "Macvie writes in a revealing, personal manner that alternates between biting journal entries, heartfelt letters to family members and a thoughtful introspection that challenges her own dissatisfaction. Many times I felt as though I was still a high school freshman, reading my big sister's diary--simultaneously embarrassed and intrigued to read what happens next." --Pacific Northwest Book Review "The Ocean in My Ears is a wonderful novel that will resonate both with adults and teens. It's a must read for fans of YA fiction." --Portland Book Review "As Alaskans know, our state has a very high rate of sexual and domestic abuse, if not, perhaps, the highest teen birth rate, as Meri claims. "The Ocean in My Ears" brings the reality of this to readers in a way that stacks of reports never can." --Nancy Lord, Anchorage Daily News "I've said it once and I'll say it again--I am such a sucker for books set in Alaska." --Dahlia Adler, Barnes & Noble "Set in 1990, this look at a small town girl feeling trapped, frustrated, and ready to explore bigger horizons will appeal to fans of Carrie Mesrobian's Just a Girl and other realistic YA where the main plot is the day-to-day existence of a teenager just trying to figure it all out." -- Amanda MacGregor, Teen Librarian Toolbox School Library Journal "In The Ocean in My Ears, Meagan Macvie has given us an unforgettable evocation of life and love in Soldotna, Alaska..." --Mary Clearman Blew, author of This Is Not the Ivy League "What makes Meagan Macvie's The Ocean in My Ears so compelling is the way it lands us in the sweet spot between the unique and the universal... This is a gorgeous, funny, and moving novel about the bittersweet end of childhood." --Scott Nadelson, author of Between You and Me "The Ocean in My Ears, bursting with angst and dreams of escape, first chagrins us with its honesty, before restoring us with its themes of friendship, love, family, and ultimately faith." --Missy Anne Peterson, author of Jimmy James Blood "Meagan Macvie delivers a dead-on coming-of-age tale set in her own tiny hometown of Soldotna, Alaska." --Dianah H., Powells.com " Riding the swells of desire and faith, ambition and heartache, The Ocean in My Ears roars with yearning and beauty." --Alexis M. Smith, author of Glaciers "The Ocean in My Ears is an absolutely gorgeous story; an honest, stark coming-of-age journey so intimate you breathe it, with salty, flawed characters and a true romance that will leave you aching with the best kind of hurt." --Estelle Laure, author of This Raging Light "With vibrant sensory details, keen wit and extraordinary care for her characters, Meagan Macvie delivers a sharp and moving debut novel." --Selene Castrovilla, author of Melt "The Ocean in My Ears offers all the joys, quirks and brutal realities of being a small-town girl who's keen to find a way out. A funny, sweet and unforgettable look at one girl coming of age in Alaska." --Carrie Mesrobian, author of Sex and Violence