Friday, February 12, 2010

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Book Review #18
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Rating: Five stars (refer to the rating system on the right)

Summary: (taken 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 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.

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've only heard great things about this book, but I never expected it to become one of my favorite books. Twenty Boy Summer basically took all the things I love and wrapped it up in this one book: a summer read, amazing characters, romance, the true meaning of friendship, loss, and learning how to let go. A perfect quote to describe Twenty Boy Summer would be "Breaks your heart and puts it back together again (Jo Knowles)." I have to admit, I teared up twice, sad tears in the beginning and happy tears at the end. I don't think I can really describe how I feel about this book, heart-warming, amazing, isn't even the beginning.

Anna, Frankie, and older brother Matt, have been best friends and neighbors since as long as Anna can remember. Anna tells almost everything to Frankie, except the little fact that she is in love with her older brother and best friend Matt. On Anna's fifteen birthday Matt returns the feelings with a magical kiss. The two share a secret relationship, stealing away every free moment alone. Matt agrees to tell Frankie the truth when they went on vacation, making Anna promise to keep this secret. During a tragic accident, Matt dies leaving a hole in Anna’s heart, as well as a huge secret to keep. For a year now Anna has been keeping their secret.  As the months pass, Anna hides her true feelings and is always there to help Frankie. Anna is invited to go along with the Frankie and her family to California for the summer. Frankie comes up with the twenty boy summer thinking Anna kind find her first love, Anna can't do anything but go along.

Anna and Frankie were great main characters, they were realistic 16 year old lifetime best friends. Ockler created a friendship with ups and downs but always strong during the struggling hardships and arguments. I could really relate to the almost sister friendship Anna and Frankie shared. I felt all of the emotions Anna went through, from crying, laughing, and even feeling that giddiness and excitement she gets when she meets someone that makes her think she can actually let go. From Anna's experiences you learn so many useful life lessons, such as finding out that new memories can't erase the old ones.  

Although Matt was not alive for most of the book, he is still a huge part of the story. I clung onto each part of  every memory and bits of information describing Matt. Matt seemed like a really great person. At times I found myself wishing he would just come back. Ockler created the perfect way of showing the constant struggle to pretend to be OK, wishing to remember the past but still letting go what needs to be done. You receive enough information about Matt that leads you to really understand  the pain and grief the characters go through.

The setting of the book, made it just that much better. The girls spend their summer vacation in California for the "Absolutely Best Summer Ever" or ABSE for short. The summer isn't picture perfect, it reminded me of my actual experiences I had when I went to the beach. The descriptions and writing really makes you appreciate the beauty of the ocean and beach. Unlike other books, the descriptions literally make you feel. I could almost hear the sound of the ocean, the breeze in the wind, and the warmth on my feet as I walked around the sand.

There are so many more great things I loved about this book, but it would seriously take me forever. There are so many memorable quotes-even passages- that I won't forget. At times they were even lyrical such as,"I just swallow hard. Nod and smile. One foot in front of the other. I'm fine, thanks for not asking" (Ockler 273) and "I really don't even know you and yet in my life you are forever entangled to my history inextricably bound" (Ockler 266).Whew, that was one of the longest reviews I have ever written, which just shows how strongly I feel about this book. There aren't any complaints I can think about this one, just a warning that there are some more mature concepts in the book for younger readers to look out for. Just thinking about Twenty Boy Summer makes me smile. If you haven't read this one yet, I strongly recommend that you do. Don't let the title fool you, this book is definitely not just a beach read.


Anonymous said...

Really great review! This book is so amazing, one of my favorites from 2009 for sure. :)

Dana said...

Thanks for the great review - this book has definitely just made my TBR list!

Morgan said...

This sounds so sad in a way and I've heard great things about it. Great review!

choco (In Which a Girl Reads) said...

Wow! What a glowing review, you've got me really wanting to read this one. The cover is beautiful :)

prophecygirl said...

Okay, this sounds AMAZING! It's brilliant to hear you loved it so much! :)

Stephanie said...

What a beautiful review! I really enjoy your writing. And I will be looking for this novel, based on your recommendation. :-)

Jessica said...

I loved this one, too! :-)

Krista/Tower of Books said...

Great review! This was one of my favorite books of 2009.

Faye said...

i still need 2 read this one!