Monday, July 5, 2010

Review of Twenty Boy Summer

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Pages: 290
Genre:  YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: June 1, 2009
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."  "Okay." "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 is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever 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."

Anna, Frankie and Matt have been inseparable for as long as Anna can remember.  Not only were they childhood friends, but their parents are best friends and they live next door to each other.  Anna, the main character, has feelings for Matt, who is Frankie's older brother.  She confesses that she has loved him for years and one momentous birthday, Matt kisses Anna and shares that he has feelings for her as well.  Anna is beside herself with excitement and happiness, but there's one catch.  Matt would rather not tell Frankie just yet, because it might make her feel uncomfortable when they all hangout.  Anna reluctantly agrees and they decide they will tell Frankie after he comes back his family vacation in California.  Before Matt and Frankie leave for California, they all go to get ice cream at the local spot. Sadly, there is a tragic car accident on the way home and Frankie and Anna survive, but Matt doesn't.  This throws their world upside down and in the back of Anna's mind is the fact that she never told Frankie about her and Matt.  A year later Frankie's family is going back to California for vacation and is taking Anna.  Frankie, who has changed a bit since the untimely death of her brother, is set on getting Anna to meet a lot of boys and have her first summer romance; however, Anna has had a summer romance---with Matt and can't seem to get over him.  Plus, Frankie doesn't know any of this!  Sarah Ockler's debut novel, Twenty Boy Summer, is heartbreaking, beautiful, and it really captures what it's like for someone to grieve and ultimately, find peace and move on.  


The readers get a glimpse of Matt and Anna's secret relationship through flashbacks, which really illustrated the depth of their relationship.  Ockler touches on such serious and depressing topics, but it never feels oppressive, because it's written so beautifully.  Readers observe Anna's journey and can understand why she feels guilty for hiding this from Frankie and why she can't move on from Matt.  Her trip to California really opens her eyes to life and the fact she needs to live her life fully and not in the past.  Despite dealing with all this, Anna is a likable character and I enjoyed her narration.  She was truly navigating through her emotions and I felt the beach was the perfect setting for this.  However, every corner is hiding a memory of Matt and it's truly interesting to read how Ockler portrays all of this.  Lastly, I really enjoyed the character of Matt; I liked him for various reasons, but I loved that he was into reading and enjoyed books. Some of the things he said about books were quote worthy.  


For me, the character of Frankie was unbearable. I had to keep reminding myself that she lost a brother and everyone deals with death differently, but she really worked my last nerve.  After Matt's death, she morphed into a teenage girl who is only interested in makeup, boys, and other superficial things.  She was self-absorbed beyond belief and would give Anna a hard time about things.  By the end of the novel, Frankie's walls come down a bit, which I enjoyed much more.  My other complaint would have to be Frankie's parents. They were so unsupportive and expected Anna to give them updates on how Frankie is holding up. They couldn't communicate with their own daughter.  There's been a lot of really hands-off parents in YA lately. What's up with that?


All in all, Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer is a fantastic read that, although may seem like a breezy summer read initially, is truly much more as it covers such a serious topics and has important themes.  The ending is brilliant and really captured one of the important messages of the book, which is the fact that life is short and we need to savor each and every moment.  


*Read an excerpt here


5 comments:

  1. Hey! I am still making my rounds via the hop (late I know) and I just wanted to say I love your blog! I love the layout!

    I am a high school English teacher in Australia! :) Nice to meet a fellow teacher blogger!

    Rachel
    And the plot thickens...

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  2. i've been wanting to read this for so long! thanks for the honest review :)

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  3. Great review! I like the first line that you put in your review: "which is the fact that life is short and we need to savor each and every moment". I like that the characters are great and that you can feel the emotions of them. It sounds like a great book to read.

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  4. I was a bit confused as to Frankie's gender in your review, but then I got it. This book does sound interesting and like one I might enjoy.

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  5. Rachel- Thanks for stopping by! I will check out your blog!

    Adriana- Yes, Frankie's real name is Francesca. I should have clarified. Thanks for the heads up!

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I really appreciate your comments. Thank you!

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