Just like the critics says, Twenty Boy Summer was made for grieving, loving, forgiving, and moving on. By the first two chapters, author Sarah Ockler had me literally balling my eyes out so much that I had to put the book down and go to sleep.
Anna Riley has lived next door to her two best friends, older brother Matt and younger sister Frankie, since diapers. It starts out with Anna, the narrator and main character, telling us about her fifteenth birthday party. She made a wish on her birthday candle to make Matt kiss her. Anna’s had a major crush on Matt since she was, like, ten. Somehow, the birthday gods grant her wish and they end up kissing. After a month of sneaking out at night to talk, look at the stars, and kiss, they make a promise to wait to tell Frankie about their new-found love for each other, hoping she won’t freak out. Matt decides to tell his sister on their vacation, where they’ll be at Zanzibar Bay in ol’ sunny Cali. Tragedy strikes when the day before their big trip, the three of them get into a car accident and Matt dies. Anna can never tell Frankie about Matt and her, she’d be breaking her promise, and now Frankie will never know now that Matt is dead.
And that’s just the first two chapters!
After a year has past, the third chapter brings us to the present. Frankie has found her own way of grieving, becoming boy-obsessed and overly flirty. Anna has become attached to anything that reminds her of Matt, writing letters to her ghost-lover in her journal she never leaves the house without. Frankie and Matt’s mom, Jayne, grieves by buying and buying furniture and decorations, becoming a fanatic in interior decorating. She decorates every room in her house, except for Matts. It’s still the way it’s been over a year ago. Red, their father, grieves by trying to make everyone happy and keeping the family together.
Soon, Jayne and Red come up with the idea of going back to Zanzibar Bay, their annual summer vacation, this time taking Anna along for the fun. This is when Frankie and Anna plan on meeting twenty boys the whole three weeks of living in a rented beach house. When they first arrive, it’s difficult for everyone. All the memories are just too much. Zanzibar Bay is just like Matt always described to Anna through postcards that she still has locked up in her room.
Through-out those three weeks, Anna meets a boy named Sam, starts to forgive but not forget, and move on with her life. After a couple ups and downs with Frankie, they make it out together, closer than ever. Anna realizes that people don’t have a before and an after. They just change into something beautiful, yet stay themselves.
This book will make you laugh and cry. It will make your heart speed up with anticipation, with dread, with the heavy feeling of grief. Sarah Ockler is an amazing writer. I seriously related to Anna and felt what she felt. So much so, that I had to put the book down to stop myself from hysterical crying in the middle of study hall, which would have been very embarrassing.
Sarah Ockler has another book that was published this past December, Fixing Delilah. I hope to read this one soon and am adding it to my Novel List. Sarah Ockler has a WordPress blog, so go check her out! :D
I would definitely suggest this book for anyone!