Jan 14, 2013

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler review

Twenty Boy Summer cover
"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.

From Goodreads

How do you know when it's okay to say your final goodbye? Anna, Frankie, and Matt were the best of friends. While Matt was technically Frankie's older brother, that just made him all the more cool in their eyes. For years everything was shared equally among them. One kiss later and it was all different. Sworn to secrecy until Matt can explain it to Frankie on their annual Zanzibar Bay vacation, Anna keeps her word. Too bad Matt never made it on that trip and now Anna is left behind with Frankie and a burning secret.

While a year may have passed, Anna still can't let go of him and what they almost were together. Frankie is volatile and beyond Anna's help. With a hole in their trip card, Frankie's family decides to take Anna along with them on their first trip to Zanzibar Bay sans Matt. With a plan of attack on the local boys, 20 to be precise, Anna and Frankie embark on a trip that will give them the truth they so desperately need to hear.

This was such an incredibly moving book. Next to a lost child, which this book also kind of deals with, a tragically lost love is one of the hardest things I can imagine having to face day in and day out. Anna and Matt were just beginning to grow their relationship in a way that would forever change the dynamic of their trio, so it makes sense that they moved forward with trepidation. I must admit that I was truly surprised at how deeply these characters internalized their feelings. They each had their own manifestations that were outward representations of their inner turmoil, but this was on a whole new level because of the intricate relationships.

Sarah Ockler really wanted the reader to understand where the main gals were coming from in how they dealt with their grief. The flashbacks we have via Anna really give us a lot of insight into just how important Matt was to their group and just how very special he was to her. Frankie is harder to pin down, but if you look carefully at the wording and gestures used to describe her actions, you can find the truth behind her bravado.

Deep down this was an undeniably powerful book about love, both platonic and romantic, and  also about truth. People believe and see what they want to believe and see. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it can cause a chain reaction of events that lead somewhere unwanted. There is some alluded to sexual action, but it is such an important/integral part of such a pivotal scene that I found it a non-issue.

It you like you love a little tragic, but with some hope at the end, then this one is just right for you.

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