Ocean Heart – A Review
Updated: Jan 18
This story centres around Mariah, a teenage girl living an ordinary life with her best friend in the house next door. She and Jace are inseparable, until his mum and her new boyfriend buy a house together on the other side of town. Mariah is devastated and feels as if a part of her has been ripped away. Going back to school after the summer holidays and finding out they are not in any of the same classes only adds insult to injury.
Mariah watches from a distance as Jace makes new friends, joins the football team and gets a girlfriend. All while she struggles to make any friends and to fit in. The only thing that gives her any joy is the swimming club. Even that comes with a guilty conscience as her mum expressly forbade her from swimming, in the sea or anywhere else, as she has a rare allergy to sea water. A friend persuades her to join the team anyway, and Mariah finds herself excelling at it. It’s also where she meets Murray. A boy she takes an instant dislike to, but also feels drawn towards.
This is fairly young, even for YA, but depicts the trials and tribulations of being a teenager very well. I couldn’t help but feel drawn to Mariah and her flip-flopping feelings, temper tantrums and emotional woes. Although Mariah feels she has lost her best friend, she does make a new one at swim club who she begins to trust and confide in.
Telling her friend about her Mum’s crystal ball, spells and Wiccan ways isn’t easy, but her friend seems to deal with them pretty easily. They even go as far as casting a spell themselves. Her life is about to take a drastic turn, though, and nothing will ever be the same. Secrets are exposed, truths become clearer and friends you've lost become friends again -- or something more. An age old pattern that every young person that ever was will have experienced in some form or another.
Mariah discovering who she truly is, and attempting to navigate high school and romantic crushes at the same time comes with huge sacrifices, and it’s these that the author has described so perfectly that I cringed, blushed and wanted to hide for a while as I have no wish to delve into to my recollections of being a teenager.
When Mariah accepts her real self, it throws her world into a tailspin and makes her see her friends, old and new, in a whole different light.
The growth and transformation that Mariah goes through, both emotionally and physically, is superbly depicted and I recognise every step that she endures from my own adolescence, but even more so from my two now adult children. Bullying has been around forever, but cyber bullying is a whole new level and something Mariah encounters. They way girls and boys go about it is very different, but no less hurtful and devastating.
Of course, this story about coming of age wouldn’t be complete without a little romance. In fact, there’s a bit of a love triangle going on, but you have to read it to find out the heartwarming and heart wrenching details.
Overall, I thought this was a wonderful book. It’s on the low end of YA but as it is very clean and sweet, I wouldn’t worry about a young teenager reading it. There were some aspects that I felt were a little brief and brushed over, but in no way did it take away from the great story or the important message it conveys. No matter who you are, or how you are, you are perfect just the same.