Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Teen Graphic Novel Review: The Girl from the Sea

In the midst of Big Book Summer and making my way through my biggest book last month, Anna Karenina, I fit a quick middle-grade/teen graphic novel in between the cracks of my reading time. I thoroughly enjoyed The Girl from the Sea by talented graphic novelist Molly Knox Ostertag, author of The Witch Boy series.

Sixteen-year-old Morgan lives on a small island off the coast of Eastern Canada with her mother and younger brother. Her father left recently, and the family is struggling to adjust to their new situation. Morgan has three close friends from school and is pretty much a typical teen girl ... except that she has a secret. She knows she's gay, but she hasn't told anyone in her life, not her family or her friends. But she has a plan: to keep her secret until she graduates, then go far away for college, where she can finally be her real, true self. One night, though, Morgan is down by the water's edge in the rain and slips on the slick cliffs. She falls into the water, and is saved by a mysterious girl who is part seal. Keltie is a selkie, and true love's kiss can turn her human and allow her to walk on land. She and Morgan kiss that night, and the next morning, Keltie is there, on land (and on legs), ready to be a part of Morgan's life. Morgan tells her family and friends that Keltie is someone new to the island, but she insists to Keltie on keeping her secret and not telling anyone the true nature of their relationship. The two girls are falling in love, but Morgan's insistence on secrets makes things difficult. And her friends can tell she's hiding something.

Sample page from The Girl from the Sea
Sample page from The Girl from the Sea

While I'm not a huge fan of full-on fantasy novels set in made-up worlds, I do enjoy some fiction set in the real world with elements of fantasy, and this graphic novel was delightful. I liked that, in spite of the selkie mythology/fantasy aspects, the story still focuses on very real-life issues, like divorce, friendship, first love, and being true to yourself. It's a beautiful story with a satisfying ending, and I was fully engaged in it from the beginning. As always, Ostertag's drawings are vibrant, full-color depictions that help to pull the reader into the story. I enjoyed this latest adventure from the author and can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

247 pages, Graphix by Scholastic

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.


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  1. This makes me think of the movie Splash from the 1980s. I like the illustrations.

    1. Yes! Also aspects of The Little Mermaid, but with a twist :)