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Girl at Sea



Feisty heroine deals with adventure, romance, family drama.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers may be inspired to learn a bit more about archeology or the Mediterranean setting. Teens may also want to check out Suite Scarlett or 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

Positive messages

Coming-of-age themes as Clio goes on an adventure with her unreliable father, with whom she has a strained relationship.

Positive role models

The characters manage, for the most part, to be likable and flawed. Clio is both feisty and capable.


Clio has accidents: She recalls being hit by a boat when she was a kid, and is stung by jellyfish on her current trip. Later in the book, pirates kidnap her at gunpoint.


Some kissing. Elsa, Clio's roommate, invites Aidan to spend the night with her.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The teens on the boat drink alcohol.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there isn't too much to worry about here beyond some kissing and underage drinking. There's also some family drama.

What's the story?

When her mom goes to Kansas to restore old paintings, Clio is sent to live with her unreliable father in Italy. Once there, she embarks on a mysterious journey upon her father's new yacht -- and finds herself the chef to his secretive crew. What's their mission? Will Clio and her father continue to clash? And what exactly is going on between Clio and Aidan, the professor's young assistant? Maybe she'll end up getting her first kiss after all.

Is it any good?


All the details are well described and well woven together, and readers will find themselves engaged throughout Clio's journey at sea. There's a lot going on here, both in the background and foreground, from the strained relationship between Clio and her dad to his crew's mysterious mission off the coast of Italy. Readers will be there for Clio's first kiss -- and her dive through an old shipwreck. The author even creates a colorful backstory for Clio involving exotic childhood trips around the globe. 

Readers will be guessing until the end about which characters they can trust. They will appreciate the ambitious premise and that the characters manage, for the most part, to be likable and flawed. There's a little something for everyone: adventure, romance, family drama -- even pirates!

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about adventure stories. Can you think of other adventures that have female protagonists? Do you think there are more of these kinds of books being published today than in the past?

  • What does it mean to be a coming-of-age story? Is this something that is limited to teens -- or do kids and even adults learn to come of age as well?

Book details

Author:Maureen Johnson
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:May 29, 2007
Number of pages:336

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Teen, 13 years old Written byHuntress102 June 1, 2011

Amazing I wish there was another

I thought it was excellent, I read all the time so I know a good book when I see or read one and this is one of them.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 16 years old Written bynerdglasses July 11, 2010

Easy read, yet very very good.

I honestly didn't think I was going to like this book... I thought it was going to be girly and silly and all pink and sparkly and frilly. But, I was wrong! I actually really enjoyed it. It's a fairly easy read, it's entertaining, it's witty, and overall, Maureen did a great job writing it. I don't want to give away the romantic relationship that Clio falls into... but I'll just say it's pretty, uh, what's the word? Satisfying? That sounds dirty. Haha. But that's the only word I can think of; so there you have it! Great book.
What other families should know
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old June 22, 2012

Girl at Sea 101

I've have read Girl at Sea at least 5 times!! This book is about a girl who's parents are divorced and she has been living with her mom. Her dad comes along and takes her to live on a boat for a few weeks and she is NOT happy about that.....anyway, she is not very happy about that at first, and she doesn't obey her dad. But then learns to accept it (and that's were the "positive messages" and "positive role models" come in"). Language: mild and rare - PG rated words. Sex: A girl invites a boy to sleep with her and there is some talk about it, plus a few kisses. I am sure all girls will love this book!! :)
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models