Twenty Boy Summer
Anna is a beautiful protagonist. Determined to keep her secret from her best friend, she’s never able to let Frankie know the extent of her grief over Matt’s death.
"Every morning, I wake up and forget just for a second that it happened. But once my eyes open, it buries me like a landslide of sharp, sad rocks. Once my eyes open, I’m heavy, like there’s to much gravity on my heart."
She’s selfless, pushing back her emotions in order to be the best possible friend to Frankie, putting Frankie’s feelings and grief before her own, and she’s heartbreaking, succumbing to the pain of losing Matt when she thinks no one’s looking. She’s the best friend Frankie could ever ask for, despite the lies she feels she’s forced to tell her everyday. I loved watching her work through her grief, using a summer fling with a surfer boy to help her realize that no one could ever erase Matt, that she could learn to love again, and that her loss might not always be so heavy a burden to carry.
I think Ockler’s treatment of a family in mourning was one of my favorite aspects of Twenty Boy Summer. Frankie’s family was volatile, with the smallest of things setting one of them off. Every happy moment felt like it was stolen, like their grief was timing itself for the perfect reminder that it was a constant. It made for a page-turning read, as I waited for a seemingly happy moment to be destroyed by a glass of spilt coke. It also brought out the most raw and honest truths, with one or more family members laying their heart on the line, daring someone to break it all over again. And Ockler is a master at repeatedly breaking hearts.
"Weeping is not the same thing as crying. It takes your whole body to weep, and when it’s over, you feel like you don’t have any bones left to hold you up."
I just loved everything about Twenty Boy Summer. Anna and Frankie’s friendship made me nostaltic for the type of summer where I could spend every day scheming the next big adventure, or the latest plan to capture a boy’s heart, with my friends. I loved that Anna saw her relationship with Sam for what it was, and that I was ok with them having mere weeks together. I loved that Anna and Frankie both got closure, of a sort. And I love that I closed the book with a smile on my face and tears running down my cheeks.
There’s sadness and crying and loss. Anna still can’t tell Frankie the truth because she promised (the now dead) Matt she wouldn’t. Even though he’s dead. Because she promised. Okay, moving on.
What better way to forget about your problems then go on a family tradition month-long trip to the beach? To fill the empty space the now dead Matt left, the family invites Anna to join them. The girls (mostly Frankie) decide they will meet/hit on/be hit on by/make out with/have sex with at least 20 boys. Because Frankie lost her v-card already and now it’s time for Anna to lose hers. But Anna’s still hung up on Matt. But she can’t tell Frankie that because she promised Matt. Who’s now dead.
The majority of the book takes place during that month-long trip, so it’s not all sadness and gloom. There’s sun and sand a’plenty. There’s also tanned surfer boys. And therein lies Anna’s problem. If she likes cutie patootie Sam, does that mean she doesn’t love Matt anymore? Or that she never did? How long should she hold onto his memory? Because nobody knew about Anna and Matt’s relationship (big secret, remember?), Anna is not able to grieve in the way other people are. She has to worry about being there for her best friend who lost her brother. How can you get over a loss that you never really had?
The besties meet a couple of guys that they bond with and start spending most of their time with them. Despite Anna’s misgivings, she finds herself enjoying Sam’s company.
The characters are all very real and well-developed. Their actions and thoughts are believable and honest. They speak to each other just like you or I would. They have depth and emotions that draw you right in. The girls do all the teenage things you expect, they act out, drink, make out and spend a lot of time worrying about how they look.
The writing is excellent (in fact, I’m surprised this was Ockler’s debut novel) and the pace is right on. There is a bit of a graphic sex scene (it’s honest and real graphic, not porn graphic).
Okcler does an amazing job of setting the scenes, you really feel like you are there with Anna and Frankie on the beach, with toes in the sand and sun on the face.
One of my favorite quotes comes as Frankie and Anna are angry at each other, but trying not to let Frankie’s parents know, as they play a game of paddleball on the beach:
"After half an hour of forced family fun, in which I score fifty points and take out at least seventy-five percent of my anger trying to blast Frankie with the ball, our game is cut short. Princess gets stung on the top of her foot by a teeny-tiny newborn baby of a jelly-fish and carries on like some shark just swam away with her torso."
The entire book is peppered with fun visual images like this, little nuggets of snark and teenage angst.
The Sum Up: Twenty Boy Summer is a fantastic, fun read that will pass by so quickly you’ll wish it was longer.
Wow. This book was...wow. I don't even know what to say, other than that
I loved it. It's about so many things: Love, death, friendship,
family.... It's just amazing. I was sucked into the story and couldn't
get out until I finished it.
Anna is a really good narrator. She's like your best friend, only
sadder. Frankie was kind of annoying; all that she really cared about
were clothes and boys. But that's after her brother Matt's death, and
when someone dies it changes people. Anna has never really been able to
get over Matt's death. She kept their relationship a secret even after
he died, as it was her last promise to him. She feels terrible about
keeping it from Frankie, but she thinks that she has to.
Ockler does an amazing job with characterization. I was slightly annoyed
with Frankie, but I think that she wanted it to be that way. My heart
was also broken many times throughout, but it was always put back
together again. I don't know how she made me care so much about a
character that I knew for maybe 25 pages, or how she managed to make me
feel whatever Anna was feeling, but she did.
Basically, this book is great, you should read it.
I love this book. Before I read it, I only stuck to fantasy and science fiction books. I wouldn't have even thought about reading a book like this, I though it would bore me, but I was way off! I won this book in a giveaway and I read it the next day. At first, I though 'this book is ok, not bad.' As I kept reading and reading, it got better and better. I could say this is one of my favorite books! It has just the right amount of sorrow and cheer. This book kept me wanting to read it every minute of the day, to know what would happen next. I finished it in a couple days, and I was amazed! I could relate to the characters and I became emotionally intertwined in this book. When the characters were happy, I was happy. When they were said, I was sad. I like when I can relate and feel what the characters are going through. It makes the book so much better. This book started out with a cute love relationship and faded into a sad love story. Anna had to deal with the loss of her boyfriend, and she kept the secret from her friend. I would totally recommend this book to anyone! It was an awesome read, it deserves a 5 star rating!
I don't even know where to begin with this book. First of all, I loved
it and hated it all at once. I loved it because it was a fantastic
book, but I hated it because it made me cry more than I should in one
day (and I look TERRIBLE when I cry.)
From the first sentence to
the last sentence, I felt like I was right inside the book with the
characters. It felt like the character were actual people to me and I
was reading a biography of a part of someones actual life. Sarah Ockler
is an amazing author who transported me to another life for a day.
loved the story and how it all flowed together in the end. The
character had real personality and I cried as they cried. Though no one
in my family has died yet, I felt like I could relate to Anna, and at
times, I wanted to jump inside the book and comfort her.
book was very moving and I don't think I'll ever forget it.Of course
there are parts I would have liked better if they were different, but
what books are perfect?
Twenty Boy Summer is Sarah's first book and I can't wait to read her other works in the future.
This book was good. It dealt with loss so believably. Most books will
overdo the tragedy or underdo it. Ockler made it just right!
loved Anna's character. She made me smile throughout most of the book.
I loved how sensible she was. Frankie didn't deserve a friend like her.
I kept wanting to shake Frankie. I wanted to scream at her whenever the
big reveal happened.
The writing was just...wow. It flowed
beautifully. By the fifth page I was completely sucked into this book.
This book is worth being picked up. It's not a traditional happy-ever
after, but it's close enough.
Sarah Ockler weaved a tragic love story as easy as pie. Effortless and yet full of tender and care she told of a brother, love, and a best friends death cause to the breakdown of two families life.
I am a sucker for a tragic love story and Sarah delivered it to me. It was a stunning book that left me breathless. Matts accident left a hole in Annas heart where she faces life with a faÃ§ade even to her closet friend. It was a tender matter, holding back your own tears and trying to be the strong one that you promised to be. Francescas and Annas friendship is one with ups and downs but always remaining strong despite the heated fights. Sarah crafted the constant struggle to maintain to strained smile, wishinghopingto remember the past but still letting go what needs to be done in a expert manner that needs to be applauded. Although I may have not cried throughout the book, I was still emotional attached to Annas journey, so bravo to Ms. Ockler for making me almost cryalmost.
One of my favorite parts was this quote Shhh, ahhh. Shhh, ahhh (I pick the oddest quotes ever). There are so many ways you can interpret this. The sound of the wavescoming and going, the quiet hum of secrets, the possibilities of the future lingering with the past, I can go on and on with it.
It was like Matt was still with us; cajoling Anna to hold onto their secret but a slight hesitation that if told would might make things better. Or even voicelessly trying to tell Anna what they were, what they could have been, and yet telling her that hes gone to live life to the fullest. Its the gentle lull of the waves pulling you closerhelping you forget, but then regretting it a step later, maybe, just maybe, you can make things right for yourself. It whispers into your ear with a sad voice that it is okay to cry but to not let it hold you downpick yourself up, dust yourself off, and face on to life.
The intensity of the book was the strongest at the beginning and toward the end. It somewhat faded in the middle where she focused more on Sam and vacation. While I enjoyed this one touching scene between Anna and Sam, I would have liked a bit more dialogue between the two. It was a bit fast paced and not really developed that left me grasping the thin thread.
Overall: Read it and pass it on. Let someone else have a lucky day.
I have been excited for this book so when it arrived I swept it up
and started reading. This book was very emotional because of the
feelings that were expressed throughout the whole novel. Besides that
aspect the story was beautiful it was a combination of the heartbreak
and both the girls wanting to move on and not dwell. I don't like the
name of the book because it does not express the feelings inside. It
sounds like a cutesy chick lit novel which it is but it is poignant and
emotional not just a cute novel.
The book was written surprisingly well for a debut author and I cannot wait for more from Sarah Ockler.
reprinted here with author's permission