Pacific Northwest Book Review
"The Ocean in My Ears"
By Meagan Macvie
Publisher: Ooligan Press
© 2017 Portland, Oregon
A teenager yearns to escape her mundane life and sleepy hometown in Alaska for the excitement that surely awaits her in a bigger city or a college town in the lower forty-eight states in this debut young-adult novel by Pacific Northwest author Meagan Macvie.
Meri Miller feels trapped by the same people and their predictable routines she has known her whole life, and she is growing tired of her own predictable schedule of eating junk food with her best friend at the 7-Eleven, soggy fries and ice cream at the Dairy Queen or sitting through another church sermon. As she begins her senior year of high school, she begins trying new things like going to parties, making out with older boys and dip-netting for salmon.
Graduation can’t come soon enough for a teen who’s ready to be an adult, but the harder Meri tries to plan her escape from the place she’s known her whole life, the troubles of adulthood, family and responsibility start to force their way into her life and threaten to derail her plans. Her grandmother gets sick, her brother gets hurt and her best friend is never around when she needs her. There are times when she wants to scream at the top of her lungs, but screaming doesn’t seem to solve the problems of adolescence.
Macvie writes in a revealing, personal manner that alternates between biting journal entries, heartfelt letters to family members and a thoughtful introspection that challenges her own dissatisfaction. Many times I felt as though I was still a high school freshman, reading my big sister’s diary — simultaneously embarrassed and intrigued to read what happens next.
Teenagers tend to practice adult-ish behaviors around each other to prove they are mature, like getting drunk, cursing insults and getting into jealous fights, but once we become adults we come to understand these childish behaviors are marks of grown-up bodies with underdeveloped minds. Real adulthood is racked by the burdens of compromise and responsibility, and by the end of Macvie’s “The Ocean in My Ears,” we begin to see Meri turn toward the path of mental and emotional maturity as her character comes of age in a world that has yet to discover the Internet or social media.
Reviewed by John Morgan, 10/1/2017