Girl at Sea
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Girl at Sea

4.1 85
by Maureen Johnson

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Sometimes you have to get lost . . .

The Girl: Clio Ford, seventeen, wants to spend the summer smooching her art-store crush, not stuck on a boat in the Mediterranean. At least she'll get a killer tan.

The Mission: Survive her father's crazy antics. Oh, and also find some missing underwater treasure that


Sometimes you have to get lost . . .

The Girl: Clio Ford, seventeen, wants to spend the summer smooching her art-store crush, not stuck on a boat in the Mediterranean. At least she'll get a killer tan.

The Mission: Survive her father's crazy antics. Oh, and also find some missing underwater treasure that could unlock the secrets of civilization.

The Crew: Dad's wacky best friend Martin, his bizarre research partner Julia, her voluptuous daughter Elsa . . . and then there's Aidan, Julia's incredibly attractive, incredibly arrogant assistant.

What's going on behind Aidan's intellectual, intensely green eyes, anyway?

As Clio sails into uncharted territory she unveils secrets that have the power to change history. But her most surprising discovery is that there's something deeper and more cryptic than the sea—her own heart.

. . . to find what you're looking for

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

When Clio was a kid, she invented a popular adventure board game with her father, which allowed them to live an adventurous life that included trips to Peru, Greece and Japan. But after the money disappeared and Clio had a scuba diving accident (her father allowed her to get a tattoo over her scar), her parents fought nightly and eventually "sat down to tell her that sometimes parents don't get along and can't be married anymore." Now years later, circumstances throw 17-year-old Clio and her estranged father together for another adventure, this time aboard his luxury yacht; he has assembled a strange crew, including his archaeologist professor girlfriend and her cute young assistant, Aidan, to embark on a mysterious expedition. The author masterfully weaves together plenty of plot points, from the unresolved tension between Clio and her father, to the strange attraction between Clio and Aidan, which at times "practically crackled." Flashbacks to another adventurous father and daughter more than 100 years before add depth to the story and provide clues to the crew's secret mission. Spirited Clio is immensely personable and witty and Johnson (Devilish) paints her summer at sea vividly, including well-crafted descriptions of everything from a scuba dive through a shipwreck to a touching father-daughter reconciliation. Ages 12-up. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Jane Harrington
What Clio wants to do this summer: start her new job at the art store, where co-worker Ollie is sure to become her "first kiss." What she has to do this summer: suddenly leave town—the continent, actually—to accompany her impulsive father on a treasure hunt. This story of a seventeen-year-old girl dragged along on a mysterious Mediterranean mission to find a sunken stone tablet is a rich read in many respects. Skillful writing results in well-developed characters, engaging action, and a general authenticity that should appeal to young adult readers. Clio is smart, sassy and likeable, and her interactions with her peers are very believable. Her personal angst over her new friends on the boat comes off as the most compelling plot line, while the slowly revealed reasons for her estranged relationship with her father feel less weighty. The descriptions of their past as a famous father-daughter game-making team who traveled the world until an accident changed everything appear as largely expositional summaries that don't pop off the page. The history of the stone, which is sought as a language primer to unlock secrets of ancient civilizations, is developed by occasional, century-old letters. This part of the story becomes a bit frustrating, though, because it gets lost in the tumult by story's end. Overall, though, this is a quality, page-turning read for teens. Underage drinking without real consequences may make this inappropriate for some.
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2007: An improbable but entertaining plot, by the author of 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Clio is the heroine and she has a complicated history with her father. The two created a highly successful computer game together and the family became wealthy, but Clio's father has wasted a lot of the money and takes on a last, desperate project to redeem his life and reputation. He has a new romance with a woman academic who is searching for a historical treasure that was lost in a shipwreck in the Mediterranean. Clio helps in this effort, but she is angry at her father, primarily because she believes he walked away from his family. There are two other major characters in this adventure: the daughter of Clio's father's lover, who eventually becomes a friend; and Aidan, a young research assistant who becomes Clio's romantic interest. There is diving, excitement, adventure, romance—all in a beautiful setting. And the young people are intelligent, skilled, and responsible. A good YA adventure novel. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up
Clio Ford, 17, is an artist who has just landed a job at an art store that puts her right in the line of sight of her crush. Within minutes of landing this primo job, she learns that her mother has been awarded a fellowship that involves moving to Kansas for the summer; Clio will have to live with her father, whom she considers immature and selfish, on a yacht in Italy. Within pages, Clio is off on an excursion that involves her father (who is really working hard to make things right), his new girlfriend (an archaeology professor on a hunt), his girlfriend's daughter, a grad assistant, and her father's best friend. There is a secret shrouding this adventure. Through old letters that are found and snippets of conversation, readers figure out that the group is looking for something akin to the Rosetta Stone. Johnson does a great job of peppering enough interesting information and planting enough clues to keep the story moving along. Purchase for readers who enjoy lighthearted mystery and intrigue.
—Emily GarrettCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
According to the text in this complex, near-ethereal exploration of a teen girl's inner awakenings, 17-year-old closed-mouthed Clio has quite a history behind her, including world travel, a bestselling video game named Dive! and a strange tattoo. When her mother ships her off to her scheming, goofball, Homer Simpson-like father on a boat off the coast of Italy with an eclectically offbeat cast of cards, Clio soon finds herself plunged into a world full of mystery, both in terms of the boat's destination and whether or not the affections of the very good-looking shipmate Aidan are aimed at her or her chatty Swedish roommate. Johnson's latest, filled with intricately drawn images of the sea, historical conceit, mythology and a touch of fantasy is meanderingly literary, full of unforgettable moments and much more complicated than readers may grasp as they turn the pages. Clio's own rocky, inner curiosities complement the calming, ocean landscape where jellyfish, sunken ships and treasure lurk below the surface of cool, blue waters set against the Italian coast. An iceberg of a romance in the vein of Sarah Dessen. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Girl at Sea AER

Chapter One

The Secret That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Ollie was in aisle five of Galaxy Art Supply stocking oil paints when Clio Ford emerged from the manager's office. From her vantage spot by the modeling clay, she could watch him for a moment, drink it all in.

Ollie Myers. Absurdly tall at six-foot five. His hair was shaggy today. He was wearing a deep navy blue button-down shirt and a wide, seventies-style tie. He looked down over the slots that the little tubes went into, carefully making sure that the right colors went into the right places. He cared about that, and it killed her. It really did. She could watch him putting paints away all day. Sad, but extremely true.

Time for the show.

She was standing straight, so she slumped a little and arranged her face into a mask of minor melancholy. She approached slowly.

"Hey," she said.

Ollie turned. Good reflexes. (He used to do all-terrain skateboarding. Very badly, he said. Very, very badly. Humble as well. Could you ask for more in a man? No. It was impossible. All human wants had been fulfilled in him.)

Which was why this could never work. She had to be dreaming.

"Well?" he said.

"Well . . ." Clio began. "I'm only a junior in high school, and apparently, most Galaxy employees are in college. And I have no retail experience. No job experience at all, actually."

"Oh," Ollie said. His face fell.

"But . . ." Clio went on. "I have this."

She held up her arm, showing the long tattoo that wound around her right forearm: an electric-blue-and-pink zipper with three yellow-and-black stars flying out of the toggle.

"You got the job!" he said.

"You know it!" Clio said, feeling herself beaming.

Clio had prepared for the interview with her typical precision. White jeans, gently streaked with lavender paint from when she repainted her room. A pink short-sleeved T-shirt from a manga publisher. A chunky belt she'd made herself by attaching laminated matchbook covers to a plain old leather belt from a thrift store. Long, honey-brown hair worn up, pinned in place with two green cloisonné chopsticks. And the master stroke, her tattoo boldly on display. No long sleeves, no arm warmers, no sticking her arm behind her back. No excuses. The freak flag was flying at full mast.

Her cell phone buzzed in her bag. It had gone off four times during the interview. She ignored it.

"I'm still amazed," she said. "I didn't think they liked to see tattoos at job interviews. Unless you're applying to work at a meth lab. Or a tattoo parlor. I guess that would make sense. . . ."

"Or an art store," he said. "I told you that tattoo would do it. Daphne loves Masahiro Sato. You were in the second she heard he drew that."

"She did get excited," Clio said, remembering the glow in the store manager's eyes when she said the name of the man who had drawn her tattoo. He was one of Tokyo's most famous manga artists. He had a massive cult following.

"This may be a historical moment," she said. "This is the first time one of my dad's insane impulses actually worked out for me."

"Your dad wanted you to get the tattoo?" he asked.

"Not exactly," Clio said. "It's a long story. A long, boring story."

"I doubt that," he answered. "I guess I'll have to make your name tag. I can even make it now. Want a name tag?"

Ollie was from Texas, and he had a voice that dripped low and slow into Clio's ear. He could draw out the words name tag and make it sound like something you would deeply want and cherish forever. She found herself nodding heavily. He took her to a back corner of the store, where there was a small cabinet and a computer. He reached into the cabinet and produced a little machine.

"Okay," he said. "It's C-l-e-o, right?"


"Is that a family name or something?" he asked.

"Not exactly," Clio said. "I was named after a Muse."

"A Muse? As in the Greek Muses?"

"Yep," Clio said. "Weird parents. What can I tell you?"

"You're a muse," he said. "I've always wanted a muse. Can you help me paint?"

"I'm the muse of history," she said. "Is that any help?"

"A muse is always a help," he said, typing into the label maker.

Muuuuse. How had she never noticed the magical power of the Southern accent before? In the eight months that she had known Ollie, she had realized that it was attractive, but she hadn't heard it much. Their exchanges took place at the counter, when he was telling her how much stuff cost. Even still, he could make things that cost "eight dollars and sixty-four cents" seem worth every penny.

It wasn't until this last month, when he started talking to her as he restocked the shelves, that she got to hear the accent in all its glory. He was a painter and a freshman at Penn. He shared her obsessive love of beautiful, rich inks. He usually wore a vintage pinstripe jacket, rode an old purple bicycle, and smelled like an art studio...a faintly chemical, extremely familiar and homey smell. He missed his sisters in Austin, had no spare cash, and wasn't above attending openings of art exhibitions he didn't like just to get the snacks.

Clio, on the other hand, was a high school junior with a past and yet very little to say about the present. She tended to make her own clothes. (Out of other clothes, so it didn't really count. It wasn't like she was wearing homespun or sweaters she had knitted herself.) She lived in a massive, messy Victorian right near the Penn campus. And once upon a time, her parents had been married, and she and her father had invented a little game . . .

Girl at Sea AER. Copyright © by Maureen Johnson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Maureen Johnson is a New York Times bestselling author whose novels include The Name of the Star, Suite Scarlett, Scarlett Fever, Girl At Sea, The Key To The Golden Firebird, and 13 Little Blue Envelopes. She lives in New York City, but travels to the UK regularly to soak up the drizzle and watch English TV.

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4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 85 reviews.
DanceBree17 More than 1 year ago
While I have loved all of Maureen Johnson's other books this one was still entertaining, but not as "Ohmigawd, have to get it" kinda books. I loved the character Clio though. She has a snarky voice and a very colorful tattoo (thanks to her off the wall father) and a true sense of adventure. The first half of the book is slow to get through, but once the pieces start to come together, it really is a good book. There is more than just adventure, there is some romance as well, first with Ollie and later with Aidan, but the romance with Aidan is the only one that has any real substance. The secondary characters are really well formed and they hold the story together, but they dont speed things along either. Its great for a summer fun read, or even a Fall read to make you wish you had this location for your summer vacation.
GirlwiththeBraids More than 1 year ago
Taken away from her chances of winning over a handsome Southern, Clio is pulled into the world of seasickness and tiny spaces. Her father, ambitious and hopeful (and should I say cute), bought a yacht. The yacht isn't huge but it would get them from here to there, right? What about from Sorrento, Italy to the middle of the sea? Stuck on a yacht (which should be exciting) but with five other people, can be tiring. Especially if there is a statuesque archeologist's daughter who Clio envies, a cute research assistant who just might be taken, her father's best friend who suffers from heart problems, her father's new girlfriend, and, of course her father. Clio is annoyed already but the real reason is . what are they doing in the middle of the sea? The first half of this book (pages 166 and earlier) where slow at getting to the point. It was boring to read about the same scenes, setting, characters, and problems. It was really a teenage drama. But when page 167 arrived, I was sucked in. The story behind the main secret (the reason they are on a yacht in the middle of the sea) began to intertwine with Clio's personal life. That, itself, is exciting! Author Maureen Johnson is clever in so many ways. She took unoriginal characters (ex. snobbish, hot, etc.) and made their small qualities seem important through humorous dialogue and vivid descriptions of the whole ordeal. If you are patient enough, which means if you can deal with reading the first half of the book, this is a great story to have on your bookshelf.
BookwormWithMcIntyre6th More than 1 year ago
When I started reading Girl at Sea, I had no idea it was going to go in the direction it did. Seventeen year old Clio's sudden change of summer plans, surprised me just as much as they did her. This is by far one of my favorite books. I have ready it a number of times, and would still read it again. I would definitely say that it's adventure, but a drama as well. It shows a relationship between a father and daughter grow. Also, I think any girl would love to read about the conflicts that occur between the teens in this adventure too. There is never a dull moment in this book, and I think you'll agree.
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I like more romance in my books ,the storyline was good but i wanted more
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