Release Date: June 1, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Review Source: Library
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
"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.
I read this book in one sitting, with only a brief stop to eat dinner, and even then I read while I ate. That really tells you how good this book was, and how engaged with it I was. I was so moved by the characters and what they were going through, still reeling a year afterward with the loss of their best friend (possible boyfriend), brother, and son. Sarah Ockler really made me feel what Anna was feeling. Whether it was butterflies in her stomach, sobs of grief, feelings of anger, or love, I was there with her through all of it. I generally don't like "sad books," but I fully appreciate a book about grief and loss that can also involve lighthearted things like silly girl talk or learning to surf. "Twenty Boy Summer" reminded me of Jandy Nelson's "The Sky is Everywhere," in that it manages to include optimism and hope while dealing with a very serious theme.
I don't really have any complaints about this book. I originally thought Anna moved from grief to acceptance too quickly, but I think it was actually building for quite a while. I think the events of the book allowed her to have a quick break and realize what she had known, but not wanted to fully accept, all along: that Matt was gone and not coming back. I enjoyed Anna and Frankie's friendship, and I loved the character of Sam. While Frankie's parents were more background characters than anything else, I thought they were developed quite well. I deeply enjoyed the plot, the characters, and the lovely writing style of this book. A truly engaging read which was beautiful and sad, but ultimately hopeful.
Find Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca