Sarah Ockler Twenty Boy Summer
290 pp. Little, Brown and Company. 2009 ISBN: 978-0-316-05158-3 (p’back) $8.99
Anna’s best friend, Frankie, wants the two of them to meet twenty boys during their three week vacation in California. This should guarantee a summer fling for the two girls. Anna hasn’t told Frankie that she’s already experienced a summer flame– with Frankie’s older brother, Matt. But was it just a fling or maybe something more? Anna will never know because Matt died tragically and unexpectedly one year ago. She hasn’t been able to forget Matt, so how can she possibly move on to someone new?
Twenty Boy Summer is on Sarah Dessen’s recommended reading list, so it didn’t take more than that to persuade me to read it 🙂 First of all, we need to talk about Anna. She loved Matt for a while before the moment he took it to the next level. What they experienced, however briefly, is what so many people dream of. They’ve been friends forever, so they already knew each other well. She didn’t tell Frankie because Matt wanted to keep it a secret until he felt secure in telling his sister, but that opportunity never came. Anna keeps that secret, and her overwhelming grief, to herself for a year. She focuses on helping Frankie deal with the loss of Matt, even if Frankie is reluctant to. That’s why she goes along with the idea of the twenty boy summer. A couple of the reasons I like Anna so much is because she’s an optomist even when her life is falling apart. Also, she doesn’t feel like she has anyone to confide in, so the healthiest way for Anna to deal with everything is by writing in her journal. I’m glad Ockler wrote this into the story because more teens need to realize how relieving it can be to keep a journal.
I really like that Sarah Ockler has Anna stay true to herself. Frankie has dealt with Matt’s death by acting out. She’s become boy crazy, has started smoking, etc. Anna is more introverted, very smart and just a tad insecure, but the way Ockler developed Anna, a reader would never think those are negative qualities. At one point in the story, Frankie is flirting with a couple guys and Anna feels awkward around them because she isn’t done up like Frankie. But she has her redeeming moment when one of the boys comments on how pretty Anna looks naturally.
I definitely think teenage girls should read Twenty Boy Summer. It’s a fun summer read, teaches an excellent lesson, has strong characters and uses rich vocabulary and imagery.