Book Review: Lea Dives In

My mom went to Barnes and Noble last Saturday and picked up some American Girl books, including Lea’s first 2! I started reading “Lea Dives In” right away. Now that I have finished reading it, I’m going to write a book review!

NOTE: This review contains SPOILERS!


The book is by Lisa Yee, who also wrote Kanani’s books.

The summary of the book from the back cover:

“Lea is ready for adventure on a family trip to Brazil, where her big brother, Zac, is studying the rainforest. She can’t wait to see the ocean – until she realizes she’d rather take photos of it then swim in it. Disappointed in herself, Lea longs to show Zac that she’s as bold and brave as he is. She finds inspiration in a new friend, who encourages her to embrace the excitement and beauty that Brazil offers. But when the fun turns to danger during a hike,  Lea must prove to Zac – and herself – that she has what it takes to face adventure head-on.”


Things I liked:

  • Lea’s relationship with Zac. Lea couldn’t wait to see her big brother and is really close to him. She missed him a lot while he was in Brazil.
  • The facts about Brazil. The book is jam-packed with notes and facts about the culture in Brazil, such as the food they eat, the architecture, and animals.
  • The photography. I loved how Lea likes to photograph things and take pictures where ever she goes. I thought that was really cool, and unique because no other girl of the year has liked photography and used a “real” camera. ;)
  • Lea’s new friend. Lea is sitting by herself at the beach,  when a girl named Camilla comes over and begins to talk with Lea. She and Lea become good friends. :)

Things I disliked:

  • The ending. The ending was not very good, in my opinion. Lea’s grandmother, Ama, gives Lea a compass necklace when she dies. Her grandmother wore the necklace all around the world in her travels. The necklace is very special to Lea. Well, in Brazil, the people there were celebrating the “Queen of the Sea”, whom they had a statue of (represented by a mermaid) in their town.  They would have a festival and people would bring “offerings” to the “Queen of the Sea.” Then several people would take the gifts in baskets out to sea and dump them in the ocean. The ones that sank to the bottom would bring “good luck.” Lea desperately wanted to give something, and she finally realized she could give her grandmother’s compass necklace. With a tearful goodbye, she set it in the basket for the “Queen of the Sea.” I was horrified when I read the ending. It left me sad more than happy. Why would Lea give something away so valuable, to a fake god, no less? It was really confusing and disappointing to me. My mom suggested that maybe she gets it back in the 2nd book, but she doesn’t.
  • Zac’s crush. Lea makes a new friend in Brazil named Camilla. Camilla’s cousin, Paloma, is very pretty and Zac has a crush on her. Zac is 18 years old, but I thought it is unnecessary because it was mentioned so many times.
  • I couldn’t relate to most of her story. I’m not a big traveler or explorer, and I’ve never gone swimming in the ocean. I couldn’t really connect with her as a book character.
  • In the effort to make the book exciting, and full of  adventure, it moved a little too quickly, which made it boring. I think Lisa tried to fit too much into a 160 page book. Grace’s was 200 pages, and the same size as the Beforever characters. I think American Girl should have made the story longer and added more details to really engage the reader.

So overall, I rate this book 3 stars out of 5. I didn’t like the ending, and the whole story was a somewhat boring to me. I liked Grace’s books a lot better. I could relate to her more than Lea.

The book doesn’t change my thoughts about the doll though! :)

– American Girl Doll Artist

P.S. The tribal print dress the Lea Clark doll comes with is actually given to her as a gift from her Brazilian friend, Camilla. :)


8 comments on “Book Review: Lea Dives In

  1. My Mom tells me the same thing, “Don’t let the book and movie ruin the doll if they aren’t that good!”. :P I’m disappointed with all of that “Sea Queen” stuff and Zac’s crush. Maryellen’s book sort of had the same “crush” thing. It’s sad that AG would put information like that in books for young girls that read that. :(

    -American Girl Doll Crafter

    • I agree… I don’t really like Lea’s story, but the doll is beautiful. And a sea queen? Let’s face it. IT’S NOT REAL.

  2. Lea’s book does not sound very good. I mean who would just through there compass necklace that her Ama gives her before she dies , I wouldn’t

  3. That compass was a treasure to Lea, and then she gives it to a fake god, when if she really wanted to give it away, then why not give to someone from Brazil, maybe her friend? I am not sure if I will read her book.

  4. I really enjoyed her book, but it bothered me that she kept fighting with her brother, I kind of wish that hadn’t dragged on so long.
    I was really shocked when she decided to give up her compass necklace, but it did sound like something her grandmother would have done if she was there. But I agree, it seems crazy to give up something that special to the ocean.
    Really? You’ve never been to the ocean?