Monday, June 15, 2009

Review - 20 Boy Summer

20 Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
published 6/09
290 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

"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 her 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 that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.

My thoughts:

With a title like 20 Boy Summer, it's easy to expect something light and fluffy from this novel. And, in a lot of ways, that expectation holds true. Anna and Frankie lay out on the beach, and drink smoothies from the Smoothie Shack, and learn to surf - perfect light and fluffy fare.

But underneath the cotton candy facade, this is a story about friendship, and grief, and growing up, and what happens when those things collide. It is quite well-written, and doesn't shy away from the dark sides of the issues it confronts.

I enjoyed Anna and Frankie's relationship so much. Ockler perfectly captures the teenage-girl best friends relationship - every waking moment spent together, loving and irritating each other in equal measure. The knowledge that Anna's secret will eventually be revealed, and the damage that can do to their relationship, brings a perfect tension to the book that keeps the reader turning pages, wondering when that revelation will take place.

While this is a Young Adult novel, parents should know that there are some mature themes, including sexuality and drinking, that are explored freely in the novel. Parents of younger teens might want to pre-read the book, to determine if they feel it appropriate for their child.

This is a great new novel, and reminds me again why I enjoy YA books so much. If you aren't reading this ever-growing genre, you should start!

Finished: 5/29/09
Source: FSB Associates
Rating: 7/10


bermudaonion said...

This is in my TBR pile. I've read a few reviews, and I have to say I'm surprised that a YA book has these themes. I guess I just have my head in the sand.

ANovelMenagerie said...

I read and reviewed this book, as well. I really liked it and agree with you on your parental warning.

Jenners said...

I have to say that I would have never considered reading YA stuff until I started blogging. I've seen lots of positive reviews on this ... another one for the list!

Beth F said...

Super review. I've been hearing such great things about it. I'm going to have to track it down.

Joanne said...

At first I thought this would be too fluffy, so I'm very glad to hear it does have serious elements. I'm really looking forward to reading this. Thanks for the great review :)

Amy said...

I enjoyed this book...great writing.

Zibilee said...

I think I will take your advice and give this a pre-read before I give this one to my daughter. She is mature enough to handle adult themes, but I think I will err on the side of caution, just to be sure. The pre-read won't be totally unselfish, as I want to get my hands on this one as well!