Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jen Reflects On A "Twenty Boy Summer"

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. 


  1. Ah, I never noticed that about the cover! I started reading this around the time Speak Loudly started, but I had to put it down. I need to pick it back up!

  2. Wow. This sounds like an amazing book. I'm adding it to my TBR List now! Also, I've never seen the ocean..... =/

  3. So glad you enjoyed it! I totally love the symbolism of the cover (and the symbolism used throughout the book) as well. I agree, the book felt true to life.

  4. I'm going to have to add this to my TBR list! Great review.

  5. I would never pick this book up but you've made me want to read it!

  6. spent a little time following your links back to the Speak Loudly campaign...not sure how I missed this, but I will be reading Speak this is on my daughter's shelf. I have no patience whatsoever for people who try and push their beliefs onto others.

    I am also a Christian and the only thing that makes me angrier than censorship is Christians who act like idiots and make all the rest of us look that way as well.

    I'm sorry; that was ugly...but this subject drives me nuts!!

    Makes me want to order every banned book out there and have a read a thon with my kids and some of their friends.

    Thanks for this update!

  7. Peppermint-- Agreed! I am also a Christian and I was appalled at the whole SpeakLoudly thing and people like Scroggins who would write books like this off and try to ban them!

  8. The book sounds great! Shows that people banning books can make you find good ones :)

  9. Tahleen: You must finish this book!

    Stephany: I hope one day you get to see the ocean! It's amazing!

    danya: I loved all of the symbolism throughout the book (I'm determined to find a red piece of sea glass)

    Short Story Slore & Sam: I'm so glad you want to read Twenty Boy Summer now!

    Peppermint: No worries! It drives me crazy when people want to ban books. I also want to read as many banned/challenged books as I can. I hope you enjoy Speak!

  10. This is, indeed, a beautiful novel about friendship, grief and falling in love that does NOT deserved to be banned. Thanks for the review!

  11. I'm glad you enjoyed Twenty Boy Summer! I love this book, it is definitely one of my favourites. From the opening chapter alone I felt so much for the characters.

  12. Sounds like a really interesting read, thanks for the review!


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