Drawing the Ocean
  • Drawing the Ocean
  • Drawing the Ocean

Drawing the Ocean

4.8 5
by Carolyn MacCullough

A gifted painter, Sadie comes from California to Connecticut determined to fit in at her new school. Yet her first attempt at making friends in the new town backfires when she reaches out to the loner everyone calls Fryin' Ryan, the very last person who can help her achieve her dream. And to further complicate matters, her twin brother, Ollie, keeps appearing to

See more details below


A gifted painter, Sadie comes from California to Connecticut determined to fit in at her new school. Yet her first attempt at making friends in the new town backfires when she reaches out to the loner everyone calls Fryin' Ryan, the very last person who can help her achieve her dream. And to further complicate matters, her twin brother, Ollie, keeps appearing to her, seeming to want something. Her twin brother, who died when they were twelve.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
Moving from the west to the east coast, Sadie is trying to fit in at her new high school without her twin brother, Ollie, who died tragically when he was twelve years old. She becomes friends with Lila, who shows her around the high school campus and the popular crowd. Sadie is confronted with new friend relationships along with the group's parties involving beer and pot. Away from the group, Sadie's encounters with Ryan, the outcast, have her reflecting about friendships. Furthermore, she must face and understand her own fears and guilt in regard to Ollie's demise. The impact of the one twin's death, which was four years ago, continues to take a heavy toll on the family members. Sadie and her parents each try to cope with the loss and they each show different signs of its effects. Sadie has conversations with Ollie, whose life-like image appears before her at various times and places. The story deals with transitions and the change of friendships, family, and relationships.
VOYA - Beth Gallaway
Sadie's brother Ollie is wise beyond his twelve tender years, keenly observing the world around Sadie as she negotiates the rocky shores of adolescence. It makes sense that Sadie's twin would linger after being killed in a car accident, but no one else can see him, and sharing her visions of him would only upset her parents. Her peers already think that she is crazy for talking to herself. Torn between wanting to be her unique self and just fit in, Sadie sees a glimpse at normalcy in her new school. Befriended by sly Lila, Sadie dates a football hero, learns to drive despite her parents insistence that she wait to get her license, and engages in several rites of passage at a party. It is "Fryn" Ryan, the weird boy with a loser reputation, however, to whom Sadie is drawn and whom insightful Ollie pegs as a potential friend. MacCullough has a gift for using language with spectacularly evocative phrasing like "her voice is milk-white meek." Sadie's artist's eye makes for an incredibly observant and detailed narrative. Each scene is carefully constructed to evoke a set of emotions, often conflicting, such as the humor and frustration of a new bicycle. Characters are very strong with distinguishing quirks, like a mother who is a terrible cook, Lila's poise and flair for drama, and Ryan's poetic soul and bracing honesty. Catty Erica and jock Travis are more two-dimensional, but support the theme of embracing the extraordinary. The pacing and dramatic tension are lovely; details about Ollie's death are slowly unraveled and the dTnouement offers the catharsis and closure that Sadie-and her mother-desperately need. The title is an apt metaphor for the elusiveness of memory and of fitting in.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up
Since her family's move to the East Coast from California, Sadie has tried to fit in and have everyone think she's normal, which is something that outcast Fryin' Ryan of the weird T-shirts is definitely not buying. Ollie, Sadie's twin brother who died four years earlier, keeps appearing, and it's so hard not to talk to him. Sketching and drawing are her real love, but Sadie does well in academics too, using her competence to make friends with Lila, who sets the guidelines for cool at Pioneer High. Good-looking football star Travis seems to be paying attention, and Sadie is sure that if she can just keep her act together she'll have it all. Characters of every age come to life with vivid descriptions and dialogue that make this spare mood piece work. The pain of the parents who want to overprotect their last child, the friendly principal, Lila's mother's cryptic style that never masks her suffering, the sleazy coach who teaches driver's ed, and even deadpan Lila's uncharacteristic emotional outburst all fuel the fugue that is Sadie's gradual connection to what truly matters to her.
—Carol A. EdwardsCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In lyrical, sweetly unhurried prose, MacCullough paints Sadie, a 16-year-old artist newly transplanted to the east coast from California. Sadie's twin brother Ollie died when they were 12 and reappears to her on a regular basis; they have conversations. At her new school, Sadie wants to be normal. A sharp-edged but loyal friend comes along, attaching herself to Sadie and bringing along a small social group, including a gorgeous, magnetic boyfriend. Sadie sketches and paints constantly, both for herself (she always did) and because she promised Ollie she'd draw him the ocean. A tentative friendship with school outcast Ryan is vaguely hostile, but not in a problematic way. Sadie slowly navigates that friendship, forbidden at school, and hesitantly confronts her own desire to learn how to drive, prohibited by her frightened mother because Ollie died in a car accident. MacCullough's subtle use of present tense and visually evocative writing create an eloquent portrait. (Fiction. YA)

Read More

Product Details

Roaring Brook Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.65(w) x 8.61(h) x 0.72(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

The sky on this side of the country looks different, less gauzy, and I wonder if I can get it down on canvas or if it will elude me the way the copper-blue of the California skies did for so long. I'm not ready to try for color yet so I leaf through my sketchbook until I come to a blank page. I take a breath, run my fingers down the smooth, white space before making the first charcoal marks. Quick glances to the sea and the way the gray Atlantic waves curl and hiss across the hard-packed sand, as if this is a test and the answers are all right before me. I draw for a long time, long enough for my brother to finally appear beside me.
"Do you like it here?" he asks, after attempting a handstand at the edge of my pink towel.
My fingers keep moving as I think about this question. I like the new house, especially my room in the cupola, the way the walls are round and resist all the square angles of my furniture. I have never lived in anything quite like it. And I like being so close to the beach, close enough that when I can't sleep at night, I pretend that the whole house is a ship that might slip its anchor at any moment and sail slowly, majestically off on the moonlit sea. Better than thinking about how I am starting a new school in a week and how many things could go wrong. Or not wrong, but not exactly right, either.
I had spent long dreaming hours on how to fit in at my new school. How it would be a chance to start over and not be that weird girl anymore who was seen talking to herself sometimes and who was way too into art. I had to make friends early and fast. And act normal. I was positive I could do it. But stepping off the plane and on the drive to the newhouse, I was suddenly not so sure.
And of course Ollie reads my mind and says, "There you go. There's your first friend now."
I squint into the distance where I know he is pointing at a tall boy dressed in jeans and a bright orange T-shirt. At first I think he is sitting on a folded-up chair, but then I realize it is a closed briefcase. He is scribbling into a white rectangle of a notebook and I wonder if he is drawing, like me. He looks about my age. "Him?"
"Why not? Go talk to him."
"Ollie. I'm not you. I can't just talk to anyone." I study this boy again.
"Come on. Go tell him a story."
"Oh, what do you know anyway? You're twelve." I watch as the boy sets aside his notebook, stares out at the water. "He does look kind of lonely," I concede, turning back to my brother.
Who is no longer sitting by my side.
I put up one hand, shield my eyes from the suddenly too-bright sun, watch a woman walk past me, burdened by a wide striped umbrella. Three small boys dragging towels almost the exact shade of the sea follow in her wake.
"I hate it when you do that," I say softly to the empty space beside me.
The woman cranes her neck, throws me a startled look, then glances back at her children. I return to my sketchbook, exchange my charcoal for my fine-point pencil. I don't say another word.
My brother, Ollie, died four years ago, and I've learned from experience that people don't handle it so well when I start talking to him.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >