Friday, May 22, 2009

Review: 20 Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler


Matt and Frankie are brother and sister and live next door to Anna. The three of them are best friends and inseparable. Until one day, Anna and Matt strike up a relationship that is more than friendship. Madly in love, but keeping it a secret to protect Frankie's feelings, they have one month together. Matt promises Anna he'll tell Frankie when they're on their family vacation, but tragedy strikes before it can happen.

Anna feels bound by this secret and never tells Frankie. The next summer, Frankie's parents take the girls on the traditional trip to California and Frankie and Anna determine to have the best summer ever and meet 20 boys, one of whom can hopefully give them new life.

First of all, the writing in this book is fantastic, at times downright beautiful. I could feel everything. Anna's grief, hope, attraction to the boy she meets, the sand under her feet, the fragile blossoming of hope in her heart. It knotted up my stomach at times and made it really hard for me to put this book down. It certainly recalled all those feelings of first attraction and being young and taking risks. But underneath all of that was the very true grief Anna and Frankie and Frankie's parents were all dealing with. It manifested in different ways and at different times for each character but I mention it because this isn't your typical beach romance sort of book.

I liked Anna...I sympathized with her and I was sorry for all that she had lost. It's impossible to ever replace a friend who has been your friend since birth and then becomes your first love. But I was also frustrated with her. I felt she should have shared her relationship because she was never able to properly grieve or share in grief because of it.

I do have to mention one thing that bothered me a bit about the book. One of the goals of the summer is to relieve Anna of her virginity. In fact, she and Frankie refer to it as her albatross. Anna's attitude towards this is probably seen as progressive, but to me it was treated quite casually and parents may want to be aware that this element exists in the book. I would also mention that there's lots of lying and sneaking around behind the parents backs...but the two girls are quite astute and aware that Frankie's parents lack of diligent concern does not equal love.

Overall, I really liked this book. The writing is beautiful, the characters are real, and it's a touching exploration of grief, loss of love, and friendship. I do think this is the sort of YA book that would appeal to readers of all ages.

Rating: 4.5/5
Things You Might Want to Know: So yes there's a bit of sex and a bit of language.

20 Boy Summer is published by Little, Brown and Sarah Ockler has a blog and is on Twitter. The book technically publishes in June, but I've heard it's already making it's way out now.



Amy

15 comments:

ANovelMenagerie said...

I don't know if you had the chance to read my review or not...? I had the similar opinions on the virginity and sneaking about parts.

Sheri

ANovelMenagerie said...

Aaahh... you did see! (My bad!) I still really liked this book so much. Like I said in my review, I'm no princess and I've probably done as bad if not worse. But, there's something about being a mom that makes me really think about what I am willing to let my kids read. And, when I think about that... it's kind of strange because I'm more lenient about television and movies than I am about books. I wonder why that is!

Meghan said...

That's funny, I just read a book with a similar situation about virginity, except she referred to it as her "diamond". I don't see why losing it would ever be a goal. This book still sounds pretty good, though, so I'll have to try it. =)

bermudaonion said...

I'm surprised that losing her virginity is a goal in a YA book. I guess it would be something to discuss with your child after reading the book.

lilly said...

I'm relieved and glad that you like it. I have read one other review of this book which was also positive, so now I can approach reading it with a lighter heart. I did receive it for review but to tell you the truth, after reading the publisher's synopsis I became a little wary, especially about that virginity part. But if the writing is so beautiful I think it will be easier for me to stay positive about the book.

Jennsbookshelf said...

Thanks for a great review! Another YA title to add to my summer reading list!

Alexa said...

I have heard excellent things about this book. There's a great interview with the author here http://tinyurl.com/p35tpy

Thanks for sharing you're thoughts, I'm looking forward to reading it.

Beth F said...

The reviews for this have been really positive. I'll be looking into it.

Staci said...

Excellent review Amy. I received this book too and am looking forward to my read. The virginity thing....I work in a middle school and you wouldn't believe how light kids take that nowadays!! "Hooking up" is what they do and they're very, very casual about it and I think the author is portraying that fairly accurately in today's world of teens...makes me sad as a parent.

Nymeth said...

This sounds like a book I'd really enjoy. Your review kind of reminded me of Sweethearts by Sara Zarr, which I loved. Not that the books are actually similar, but they seem to deal with some of the same emotions. I hope this makes sense :P

Amee said...

Sounds good. I keep hearing such good things about this book. Gotta love the cover too.

Renee said...

Sigh.... this sounds like a book I will not be getting for my 17yo nor 14yo daughters.... trying to lose one's virginity while unmarried is not the sort of goal I want my daughters to read about

imbookingit said...

Hmm. I'm not looking forward to when my daughter is interested in books like this! Twilight was a big enough decision for me.

It does sound like an intriguing book, getting into some good issues. Thanks for the review.

deltay said...

I really like your layout!

I just read (and reviewed here - http://lucidconspiracy.blogspot.com/2009/05/twenty-boy-summer-review.html ) this book as well, and enjoyed it greatly. I agree, something about the writing and phrasing was just beautiful. Actually, I found the language in here to be pretty light, compared to some other YA books out there. Sweet review!

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I just started this one last night, so I just skimmed your review, but I'm glad to see you enjoyed it so much!

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