December 11, 2013

Latest Read: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Here are the basics ...
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Publication date: June 1, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Purchased

Summary: According to Anna’s 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 her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago. (Adapted goodreads.com
My thoughts…
The good: Twenty Boy Summer sounds and looks (I love this cover!) like a light contemporary romance. Filled with days spent at the beach, running around with your best friend / partner-in-crime and flirting with every boy in sight. And all those things happen here. But this book also takes a deep, introspective look at grief, moving on, first loves and the "what ifs" in life. Not exactly what you expected me to say right? 

Anna and her best friend Frankie are preparing for what is supposed to the "absolute best summer ever" in Zanzibar Bay, California. In preparation, Anna is doing what she does best - being there for Frankie. All Frankie can think about is getting a tan and meeting, preferably kissing, as many boys as possible. Twenty, in fact. What Frankie isn't talking about is the grief she's experienced this past year with the loss of her older brother Matt. A grief both Anna and Frankie share since the three of them have been neighbors and best friends their entire lives. But Anna has a secret. She and Matt had a brief but intense romance that they kept a secret, at his request. He was going to tell Frankie but he died before he got a chance to. Anna is torn between keeping her promise to Matt and telling Frankie the truth, who clearly has no idea how deep Anna's grief goes. 

Sara Ockler has this way with describing a person's emotions accurately and lyrically (I wanted to highlight so many passages!). Within the first few pages, I felt deeply for Anna and her grief. Even though I didn't completely understand why this needed to be a secret from Frankie (aside from Matt insisting on it, but again - is it really that big of a deal?), her inner conflict felt very real. Anna has so many thoughts going through her mind: dreams never fully realized with Matt, the fear of moving on and being there for Frankie at the expense of her own grief (the girl deserves an award for putting up with Frankie's antics!). 

(Some) reservations: I think what didn't fully gel for me was Frankie. I just didn't like her. Her character never seemed to grow up or develop. She's just stuck in her grief and self-righteousness and thinks she has the onus on missing Matt. But then like Anna, there would be these tiny moments where I saw the "real" Frankie shine through and I understood Anna's desire to protect her. I wish there had been more of those moments to make her a more sympathetic character. Also Frankie's parents are such a huge presence in the book (after all, they're on vacation with them!) but sadly, they're under-utilized. One scene in particular with Frankie's mom had me wishing for more.

Do I recommend?: I love Sara Ockler's writing and while this wasn't my favorite (The Book of Broken Hearts is my #1!), I highly recommend her books.

Happy reading! 

5 comments:

  1. I was wondering if I should re-read Amy & Roger's Epic Detour when I realized this book's been gathering dust in here since last year lol. I'm in the mood for contemp and I think I know what I'll be reading next. Lovely review!

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  2. I haven't read this one yet, but I have picked it up a couple of times before setting it down again. It has such a gorgeous cover! I really like the sound of this story, and based on what I thought of The Book of Broken Hearts (!!!), I really think I'll like the way it's written.

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  3. I keep seeing The Book of Broken Hearts and really wanna read that one. I've had this book on my shelf for so long! I swear, I need to read it next year! Sucks that you didn't connect with Frankie, I have a feeling I'll have that problem too. It's so hard for me to like female characters, esp those that don't develop. We'll see! Great review!

    Vi
    AKA Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island

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  4. I loved this book.... and HATED Frankie. Like I had to tell my self that it was unhealthy to want to attack a high school girl. Sarah Ockler is amazing and I really need to read The Book of Broken Hearts. I LOVED Bittersweet as well, have you read that?

    Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Book Blog

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  5. I've had this one for a while but still haven't read it! I LOVED The Book of Broken Hearts (and that's the only Sarah Ockler book I've read so far) so I'm anxious and yet scared to jump into this one! I'm not sure anything could top TBoBH!

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