GIRL AT SEA is Maureen Johnson's best book yet, and that's really saying something, as anyone who has read her fantastic earlier novels will know. It's a mystery full of forgotten secrets from the past with travel, wonderful characters, romance, adventure, and so much more. The amazingly well-written page-turner has elements that will remind readers of bestselling adult books by big names like Dan Brown, but with a quirky charm and loveable main character all its own.
Clio Ford is a seventeen-year-old aspiring artist who is understandably unhappy when she has to give up her dream job at the local art store to spend her summer vacation on a boat in Italy, tagging along on one of her father's mysterious adventures. It's just like old times, when they traveled the world with the money from Div!, a board game that Clio and her father invented on a rainy trip to the beach. This time, however, this sort of zany adventure has lost much of its magic for her. She worries that it must be costing a fortune that her father doesn't have because a past business partner took off with most of the Dive! money.
Add that to the fact that Clio discovers she's also the unwilling addition to her father's date with his snarky new girlfriend, Julia, and you've got one unhappy teenaged girl. It's not all bad, though: she's had to leave her crush behind, but there may be an even better guy right on the Sea Butterfly. As bad as it seems when she finds out she's stuck on the boat, her time on board might not be half bad. After all, her father's crazy adventures were fun when she was twelve...right? But this expedition turns out to be unlike what she experienced before. There's a lot more in store than Clio--or anyone else--knows.
My only complaint with this book is how soon it ended! When the story ends, the key to the mystery has been found--but the mystery itself has yet to be solved. I really, really hope there'll be a sequel to this crazy, fantastic, adventurous story!
Reviewed by Jocelyn Pearce