As Martha develops in Olive's Ocean, the reader comes to appreciate Martha's recognition of her own mortality. She is affected by Olive, whom she barely knew but who had written in her journal that Martha "is the nicest person in my whole entire class." This will affect her vision of the future as she strives to achieve Olive's goal and her own, realizing the effect she has had on the now deceased Olive. The fact that Olive could have been her friend, is similar to Martha and dies suddenly all expose Martha to this reality. The fact that Martha's grandmother Godbee is also potentially dying adds to Martha's uncertainty. She has grown close to Godbee who guides Martha towards fulfilment; "I try to think of someone worse off than I am...and if... I'm feeling particularly saintly, I try to do something nice for him or her.”
Themes are intertwined and Martha's growing up starts during the summer and she experiences many new and significantly teenage encounters.
The author achieves his purpose by allowing the reader to see the world through Martha's eyes. The conversational tone ensures the simplicity of the story and the seriousness of the issues with which Martha must cope. She feels that she is achieving her goals but then is betrayed by Jimmy and it is Tate, Jimmy's brother, who unexpectedly treats her with tenderness and compassion. She recognizes her father's unhappiness and how it affects his family which makes her determined to do better. She resolves to be a writer.
Martha's ultimate realization and acceptance, supporting the theme of contentment and acceptance is reinforced as
"At that very minute, what was inside her head and heart made her feel as though there was no one else in the whole world she would rather be.”