Title: Twenty Boy Summer [Amazon]
Author: Sarah Ockler [website]
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Stars: 5 of 5
“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 ZanzibarBay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever 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.
GAH I flipping love this book! No seriously, I’m insanely in love with this book. It is such a great take on first love and loss and moving on. I honestly can’t stand how good it is and I can’t say enough how much I love it. From Anna to Frankie to Sam and to Matt(who we knew SO little of), I can’t find one single thing to complain about because I got every character, understood where they were coming from and why they were acting the way they were. Their story is real and you feel that coming off the pages.
Twenty Boy Summer is about Anna. She is best friends with Frankie and Matt who are brother in sister. Anna has been in love with Matt for as long as she could remember and all she wanted was for him to notice her. When he finally does Anna is on cloud nine. Being with Matt is everything she thought it would be, they just don’t know how to tell Frankie. Deciding it would be best coming from Matt they keep their romance a secret and then the unthinkable happens, Matt dies and Anna is left alone with not only the burden of their secret love and the grief of his family, but with the daunting task of what-ifs and the possibility of moving on. Spending the summer in California with Frankie Anna has to figure out if letting go of Matt is the same as forgetting him and just what their time together, although short, meant to her.
When I read this book the first time there was one sentence that jumped out at me and I think sums up the whole book. “I’m fine. Thanks for not asking.” That right there is what completely broke me because Anna wasn’t fine. She wasn’t fine at all and no one asked because no one thought they had to. Anna lost something no one knew she had. She had to deal with grieving on her own, had to push aside her pain, her hopes, her loss of love, and that is what I related to. Not because I have ever been in Anna’s place, but because I can’t even imagine what that would be like. One day you are on top of the world and the next everything has been shattered and the person you were is no more. It killed me. Completely killed me! And that is why I think I loved Anna. Not once did she complain. Not once did she let her feelings come first. She was there for Frankie every single time and when Frankie couldn’t do the same I wanted to throw something. Anna did everything she could to hold herself together. Anna let go to one of the most important moments in her life and not being able to have her best friend there to support her hurt me. And that is a testament to Ockler and her talent for writing. She gets it and therefore her readers get it.
I have read Twenty Boy Summer twice now and it has affected me the exact same both times. Sarah Ockler has written a book that will completely tear your heart out of your chest, stomp on it, and then mend it slowly with every tiny piece being handled with care. You will go on the same journey of loss as Anna and in the long run you will grow and be a better person from it. And that’s all I have to say about that.