Published May 1st 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in ZanzibarBay 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.When I first picked this book up, I thought I was in for a light, fluffy read full of summer fun and tons of boys. While this book does have plenty of those things, the content goes much deeper than that. Full of grief after the passing of a secret love and a deteriorating friendship that needs to be saved, Twenty Boy Summer brought me to tears but left me at ease emotionally when I turned the last page.
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: Our main character, Anna, broke my heart with how strong her grief was for Matt. He was her secret love interest for years, only getting to be his girl for a month before his death. I felt for her, and thought she was a very strong character. She put other people's happiness before hers, still keeping her and Matt's secret. I felt sad when she kept telling herself she couldn't like other boys. I understand where she was coming from, but I think the relationship she and Sam go through really helped her in the grieving process, leading her down the road to acceptance.
Frankie: Frankie was Matt's sister. She seemed like she was dealing with a lot and not handling it as best as she could, instead seeking out other excitement in life by ways of boys and smoking, as well as other similar things. She had a lot of built up anger and resentment. I felt like if her parents paid more attention to her she might have dealt with her brother's death a bit better, but in the end she did fine.
Sarah Ockler really knows how to tell a story that keeps me engaged. She kept all my emotions involved in this story, taking me on a tear-jerking roller coaster ride that I totally wasn't expecting. The characters and plot line where both believable and felt very real.
Things I liked:
1) I loved the romance in this book! While I wasn't really feeling Frankie and her boy toys romance, I sure was feeling the love between Anna and Sam. He was so sweet, nothing like most teenage boys who only want one thing. I liked how they moved more slowly than many teen couples having a summer fling, and I loved how she eventually opened up to him, telling him about her past.
2) The descriptions in this book had me feeling like I was on a summer vacation on the beach. I could taste the salty ocean waves, hear the waves crashing on the beach, feel the chill of a delicious smoothie from the stand and even see the glint of a red piece of sea glass poking out of the hot sand.
3) I enjoyed seeing the characters in this story gradually heal from the pains of their loss. When the beach vacation first began everyone was weepy and quite honestly on the verge of collapse. By the end they were still grieving, but they had a new bounce in their step, a new view on life.
I loved how Sarah spun this tale of grief, angst and acceptance. Her words had me in a trance, I couldn't stop turning the pages. She made me feel like I really knew the characters, and she even managed to engage all of my senses with her vivid story telling. I know I'll have to pick up more of her work in the future!