Monday, November 1, 2010

Review: Twenty Boy Summer

Title:  Twenty Boy Summer
Author:  Sarah Ockler
Published:  Little, Brown and Company, 2009
How I Got It:  Public Library
Rating:  5 stars

"Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."
"Promise me? Promise you won't say anything?"
"Don't worry." I laughed. "It's our secret, right?"

According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie---she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer (from Goodreads).

Let me start off by saying that I probably wouldn’t have picked up this book if it hadn’t been for all of the controversy over banning it in September (speak loudly).  So I want to thank the horrible person who wants to ban this book from their local school system (don’t even want to mention their name!) and the #Speak Loudly campaign for putting this book on my radar.  I’m so glad you gave this book attention.  I absolutely adored it.

Twenty Boy Summer tells the story of Anna and Frankie.  The majority of the book takes place one year after a tragic accident:  a car accident claimed the life of Matt, Frankie’s older brother and he was also best friends with Anna and Frankie.  Even though it was Frankie’s brother who died, Matt was also Anna’s best friend (and the first boy she was in love with).  It didn’t seem like Anna was given a chance to grieve.  Everyone was always worried about Frankie and they expected Anna to be able to take care of her.  To cope, Anna writes in her journal, it was a birthday present from Matt, and she keeps a picture of the two of them on the first page.  Sometimes she even addresses the journal entries to Matt, telling him how his sister is not dealing with the loss well or how she's afraid she's going to forget him.

I loved this story because it seemed so real.  Although they were consumed by grief, Anna and Frankie were typical teenage girls.  Yes, this includes lying to their parents, sneaking out, underage drinking, wearing too much makeup and clothes their parents wouldn’t approve of, spending an hour in front of a mirror getting ready to go out, and flirting with boys.  While some people (I’m talking about you icky person who shall remain nameless) think that books like this will give teenagers the idea to lie to their parents (trust me, they already do this sometimes), they learn these things from each other- not the books they read.  
The cover.  I love it. The heart is made out of blue sea glass with a single piece of red sea glass.  Once you read the book you’ll understand how it ties is with the story so well.  Also, Ockler's descriptions of the ocean were amazing.  I never think about how the salt water feels like you've eaten too many potato chips or how nice it feels to dig your feet into the cool sand.  I grew up ten minutes from the beach so it's also strange (for me) to hear someone say they're never seen the ocean.  

Twenty Boy Summer is Sarah Ockler’s debut book.  I’ll definitely be picking up her second novel when it comes out in December. 


Kelly F. said...

Yes, so glad to see that you liked this one. I've been on the edge about it. I've also wanted to read it after the banning controvery, people wanting to ban books make me so mad, especailly if it's a really great one!

Jen said...

If a book is banned or challenged that makes me want to read the book even more! But this really was such a good book.

Erica said...

I adored this book so much! Twenty Boy Summer was simply amazing!