One True Ocean

( 2 )

Overview

There are two oceans, mom used to tell me. There is one that is blue-a clean, bright Disney World blue, which simply is the mirror of a clear sky above. But look at the ocean on a cloudy day, she would say, and here lies the green ocean-the true ocean, full of algae and kelp and slimy creatures, evil lurking in the shadows.

The One True Ocean is a searing "what happened?" novel driven by suspense and tension when a twenty-something artist returns to her abandoned childhood home ...

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Overview

There are two oceans, mom used to tell me. There is one that is blue-a clean, bright Disney World blue, which simply is the mirror of a clear sky above. But look at the ocean on a cloudy day, she would say, and here lies the green ocean-the true ocean, full of algae and kelp and slimy creatures, evil lurking in the shadows.

The One True Ocean is a searing "what happened?" novel driven by suspense and tension when a twenty-something artist returns to her abandoned childhood home and begins to dig into her past. In a search for answers to her aunt's suicide and her father's identity, Jenna discovers that her seaside house holds dark secrets that will unravel her family history and shatter the truth she has come to believe.

In this eloquent debut novel, Sarah Beth Martin mixes dark psychology and real emotion with breathless storytelling to explore the deep connections between past and present, love and loss, the dead and the living.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A woman's effort to seek out her biological father's identity leads her into a hornet's nest of lurid family secrets in Martin's debut, an atmospheric if rather ponderous novel. Artist Jenna McGarry is in mourning following the death of her husband in a car accident. After a period in the doldrums, McGarry decides to rent the house her parents owned on the coast of Maine before they moved to Massachusetts. McGarry's mother, Renee, is startled by her decision, largely because it takes her daughter back to the scene of a family tragedy-when Jenna was seven, her mother's sister, Adeline, committed suicide. As Jenna settles into the old house, she finds traces of her mother's first love-letters, even a photograph. But it is a talk with an old friend that leads her to suspect that her actual father may be long dead. Martin is a smooth, engaging storyteller, and she does a nice job of weaving together the various narrative threads. The flashbacks to Renee's adolescence are clumsy, however, and laced with leaden, dramatic pronouncements. Martin gradually reveals the rivalry between Renee and older, unbalanced Adeline for the attentions of Jenna's father, which comes to a tragic head at the novel's climax. Martin's plotting shows promise, though overwriting weighs down her debut. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A shapely meandering debut explores the hazards of lying to the children. Renee McGarry and her fatherless daughter Jenna have undergone similar love traumas as young women, both pregnant as teenagers and forced to deal with the shock from the tragic, untimely death of their men. Raised for the most part by Renee's older sister, Adeline, in their childhood home in coastal Maine-before a mysterious rift destroyed the sisters' relationship, followed by Adeline's death by driving into the sea-Jenna left college when she got pregnant, but married Seth Morton anyway when she miscarried. Years later, however, when Seth dies in a car accident, Jenna spins into a depression, and recognizes that her emotional healing involves unraveling the secrets around the incident that compelled her now-married mother to move away from Aunt Adeline's house in Maine to Massachussetts, when Jenna was seven. Getting around Renee's chilly, hard-shelled nature provides this well-meaning, rather repetitive tale its main conflict; and in alternating points of view, Martin attempts to round out the prickly mother-daughter relationship. Jenna is a sympathetic character we can root for, although there's not a strong enough sense of Seth to miss him; and the sudden violent deaths of so many tertiary characters (boyfriend, husband, sister, babies) diffuse the story's energy. Martin is a strong writer, yet the forced secrets (of both Renee's teenaged years and also Jenna's) and deathly details lend this a decided soap-opera quality. A sincere first effort gets mired in the plot's undertow.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402201431
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/2003
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Beth Martin began her writing career with a story published in Mostly Maine: A Writer's Journal. Since then, she has been published in Pearl, West Wind Review, and Animus, among others, and ran the literary journal Foliage. Martin lives in Yarmouth, Maine, and is currently at work on her second novel.
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Table of Contents

?PART ONE Aftermath -1

PART TWO The Origins of Things -23

PART THREE A More Horrible Death -57

PART FOUR The Rift -83

PART FIVE The Color of Water -111

PART SIX The Thaw -139

PART SEVEN Awakening -165

PART EIGHT The Calm -203

PART NINE The Living-229

PART TEN A Fertile Green -255

PART ELEVEN Buried Things -269

PART TWELVE The Umbilical -281

PART THIRTEEN Undertow -299

PART FOURTEEN In the Wake of Green -317

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2003

    Brilliant!

    The One True Ocean is wonderfully conceived, expertly rendered and a remarkable achievement. While the plot focuses on family secrets and things hidden--both physically hidden, and those areas of the mind we often hide from ourselves--the novel's greatest strengths are rich characters who impact strongly on the reader (certainly they did me), and a prose style which is both lyrical and compelling. The relationship between Jenna and her mother and father as she struggles to cope with the loss of her husband Seth is tense, believable and ultimately touching. All the characters connect in a way that is human and real. Sarah Beth Martin shows a strong sensitivity for the way people really are with each other, as well as a keen sense of story and storytelling. As Jenna's life unravels around her--just as the secrets of her mother's and her own past do--the reader is taken along on a wild emotional ride, culminating in an understanding which, while sad in a way, is very satisfying and rings true.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2003

    A wonderful novel

    Sarah Beth Martin is a remarkable new voice in contemporary women's fiction. This debut novel is so honest, with such an incredibly compelling and gripping narrative drive, that it's hard to put down once you pick it up. The characters are incredibly well drawn, and their circumstances are so real, so tragic, that it takes your breath away when you learn the secrets that are revealed as the story plays out. I hope Ms. Martin will continue to share her wonderful voice and storytelling ability for years to come. I will certainly recommend this book to everyone I know, and might even read it again to capture moments and passages missed the first time.

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