Monday, February 11, 2013

Review of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Twenty Boy Summer "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 Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every 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 her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.

(Summary from GoodReads)

Sarah Ockler is a highly acclaimed author in the YA lit world, both by readers and other authors.  Twenty Boy Summer is also rather infamous because a few years ago, a man named Wesley Scroggins tried to ban it.  Well, every year for Banned Books Week I select a banned or challenged book to read, so this year, my pick was Twenty Boy Summer.  While I enjoyed the story and Ockler’s writing well enough, Frankie’s character grated on my last nerve.

Ockler does a wonderful job of crafting the setting. I could feel the sand beneath my toes as I read this book.  As the synopsis implies, this is a book that deals heavily with loss and grief.  Unfortunately, I thought the prose that dealt with this but solid, but it wasn’t exceptional.

Anna is our main character who spends her summer at the beach with her best friend, Frankie. The loss that they are both dealing with is that of Matt, Frankie’s older brother and Anna’s first love.  I liked Anna, but she’s not an especially memorable character.  My real problem was with Frankie.  In coming to terms with Matt’s death, Frankie does some things that I would be nearly impossible to forgive if I were in Anna’s shoes.  I understand that she’s supposed to be grieving, but I was upset that Anna cut her so much slack given the boundaries she crossed.  That instance aside, I found her constant obsession with doing her hair and make-up to be agitating and boring.

I’m making Twenty Boy Summer sound like an awful book that I utterly despised, but that’s not the case at all.  I think that this simply wasn’t the right story for me.  All of Ockler’s other books sound great and I own two of them, so I’ll be giving those a try to see if they work any better for me.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book. 

Other reviews:


  1. Huh. I just assumed this was a superficial read, without any real emotion or depth, but I guess I was wrong.
    Great review!



  3. I've been meaning to read this because I've seen such praise for Ockler, because I love contemporary reads, and because I enjoyed one of her other books. But now I'm kind of nervous about Frankie-from your description, I'm worried she will grate on me as well. We'll see what happens when I get to this book!



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