Friday, 27 August 2010

Review: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler


Publisher: Little, Brown
Format: Hardcover
Released: June 1st, 2009
Grade rating: A


Amazon summary:

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.

Review:

I've had Twenty Boy Summer sat on my shelf since June 2009, and every now and then I'd think about reading it. I'm kicking myself for waiting so long, because it's amazing. Seriously, it's like a sunny summer day captured and preserved on a page, always there for everyone to see. It's the most moving book I've read that deals with grief and loss, aside from Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur. I started the book in tears and I ended it in tears, and that's all thanks to Sarah Ockler's beautiful way with words.

The fact that Anna had this sweeping romance with best friend Frankie's older brother, Matt, is heartbreaking in itself, but it's made even worse when you realise she hasn't told a soul. How anyone can keep a secret like that is beyond me; even if I promised someone, I know I wouldn't be able to do it. A secret like that would eat me up until I couldn't keep it for a minute longer, but to Anna, it's the one thing she has to do. Because she promised Matt she'd look out for Frankie.

Ockler writes about Anna and Frankie's grief like she's experiencing it herself, like she is those characters. Three chapters in and I felt like I already knew these people inside out, and by the end I felt like they were old friends, passing through for a fleeting visit before leaving for another adventure. Her descriptions of Zanzibar Bay, where Anna and Frankie holiday for 3 weeks in the summer, made me want to jump on a plane and go hunting for sea glass, even though I'm terrified of flying. I wanted to run my toes through the sand and see seals in the distance, while surfer boys sauntered past looking like magazine models. It sounds like the perfect way to spend a summer.

Although Twenty Boy Summer does sound like it's about 2 girls and their adventures with 20 boys, it really isn't. It's about how families and best friends deal with a huge loss in their lives, and how they move on without forgetting. The backdrop of sun and sand gives it a more lighthearted feel, though there's always an underlying current of something deeper. Matt's presence through memories and flashbacks lets you know him just as well as Frankie or Anna, and he's as much a part of the story as Zanzibar Bay. Like Anna, you'll fall in love with him, and you'll see his life forever etched on Ockler's pages.

15 comments:

Liz. R said...

I've been meaning to read this for ages too. I adore the cover, but it also sounds like something I'd like as well. Glad you enjoyed it!

Erika said...

I just read this one, and it's so much deeper than the summary lets on. It's wonderful! I'm so glad you enjoyed it like I did :)

Lori said...

I loved this book too!! Great review!

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

Fantastic review, Jenny. I loved this too and started and ended it in tears as well.

kate.o.d said...

i'm really glad you enjoyed it.

i didn't love it as much - have a review on my blog if you want to see - i do think ockler has a great way with words, but that her humorous scenes were stronger than the grief ones.

Splendibird said...

I have picked this up so many times in book shops and then dismissed it as I wasn't sure if I'd like it. After reading your particularly brilliant review I shall definitely be picking up a copy! Thanks!

Michelle said...

I started this book in tears as well! First time that every really happened to me. I'm glad you enjoyed this one as much as I did. It's really such an awesome book. Lovely review Jenny! :)

Luisa at Chicklish said...

I really want to read this! Thanks a lot for the review.

Jesse Owen said...

This sounds right up my street and really interesting too. Great review :)

Kestrel Shadowthistle said...

I just have to say - I adore your blog, and it has saved me from having to read boring books many times.

Anyway, I was reading that you like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe a lot. Have you seen the old versions of the films? They have lots of people in beaver suits, but they're actually quite good.

Also, nice review. I'll be sure to pick that one up at my next library visit :)

Lucie said...

Fab review! I've had this since the paperback came out and I've been dying to read it but other books keep getting in the way!

I Want To Read That said...

Ace review - I loved twenty boy summer and can't wait to read more of Ockler's writing.

Becky said...

I cried too. I really felt a part of this story when I read it. Beautiful but so emotional. Lovely review.

KyleeJ said...

I read this last summer. I was originally put-off by it since, like you said, it sounds like Anna and Frankie are on a quest of sorts. I was so surprised at how emotional this book was for me.

Clover said...

I'm a little desperate to read this now! A book started and ended in tears? Sounds like one for me!