Twenty Boy Summer

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler (2009) 

Don’t let the fluffy title of the book deceive you. Before reading the synopsis, I assumed it was a quick fun summer read about a teen girl exploring her sexuality. I had no idea that Sarah Ockler’s beautiful writing and story would bring me to the verge of tears, break my heart and stitch it back up again.

From the back cover: 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 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. — Little, Brown and Company

Twenty Boy Summer centres on relationships, love, grief and death.  It was excellently written, especially the dialogue between the characters. Although there are many memorable quotes throughout the whole novel, my two favourites were:

Nothing ever really goes away – it just changes into something else. Something beautiful.”

 “Sometimes I think we all feel guilty for being happy, and as soon as we catch ourselves acting like everything’s okay, someone remembers it’s not”.

I was impressed that Twenty Boy Summer was Sarah Ockler’s debut novel. She demonstrated the rare ability to get the reader quickly attached to the characters/story and take them on a raw emotional roller coaster.  I was so intrigued with the outcome that I read the book in just over a day. It’s been a week since I finished the book, and I still find myself thinking about Anna and Frankie.

On a personal level, Twenty Boy Summer had a profound affect on me. Like Matt, my best friend’s brother died in a tragic car accident a couple of years ago. The grief the family demonstrated felt very authentic. I could relate to the difficulty Anna experienced in trying to comfort her best friend through the pain and sadness.

The only issue I have with the book is the appropriateness of the subject matter for the intended audience (12+). From the publisher’s description, the reader has no idea that the girls are trying to meet 20 boys so Anna can lose her ‘albatross’ (virginity). Frankie said she lost hers a few months ago and they believe, at sixteen, it’s past time for Anna to lose hers too. 

Overall, I would definitely recommend Twenty Boy Summer to readers looking for a realistic portrayal of teen friendships, secrets, love, and loss. I would just advise that they are mature enough to handle the content matter.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Vicky
    Sep 24, 2010 @ 19:47:16

    i want to read this now!!


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