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.
Twenty Boy Summer is a story about grief, friendship, living every day to the fullest, and most of all about letting go. Sarah Ockler has created something really special with this book that anyone who has faced any kind of loss in their lives can relate to.
I picked up Twenty Boy Summer after someone recommended it to me as a good emotional book. While it is emotional at times, especially if you’ve ever experienced loss, it was also quite witty and fun and sweet as well. I actually was very surprised at the amount of times I literally laughed out loud during this one, when I was expecting something I would be balling at. That’s not a bad thing at all of course because in life, even during times of grief, laughter is incredibly important.
But what stood out to me most was Anna, who’s point-of-view we’re in during the book. Anna is the perfect character to walk with down the road of grieving and letting go. She is a patient, down-to-earth, smart, witty, and real girl who I found easily able to relate to. The feelings she went through were put into absolutely perfect words. Things that I have felt but would never have described in such a way made so much sense. But what I loved most about Anna was her wittiness. She’s extremely sharp and intelligent and it was her inner dialog that I laughed at the most.
The person I found hardest to related to was Frankie. While I have never lost a brother so I cannot even begin to fathom how that would feel, I felt like at times she was very selfish and that Anna wasn’t allowed anything for herself. It was like she always had to be front and center and Anna just had to deal with the repercussions. I just can’t understand women like that and I think it can make even the most beautiful person incredibly unattractive.
But, aside from Frankie, this was a fantastic book. It’s definitely one of those books that leaves you with a little pit in your stomach because no matter how it ends it can’t be completely happy. But that’s how life is sometimes. But you keep going and you let go little bits at a time as best as you can. And that’s what this story is about. Not erasing, but moving on, and appreciating the time you did have.
One thing I wish was different though:
I know this wasn’t a romance by any means, but I really wish that a bigger relationship could’ve happened with Sam. At the same time, I totally appreciate and admire how it ended where Anna was okay with leaving Sam and she’s okay on her own. I admire her for that kind of strength because a summer love can be a powerful thing and something that’s hard to let go. In that sense Anna is WAY more mature at 16 than even I am at 25! lol So I have a love/hate relationship with that part of the ending. I love that Anna didn’t need love to live, but I also hated that she didn’t get a happily every after per se.
Overall I’d definitely recommend this for anyone interested in novels about grief and loss and basically just moving on with your life. Be prepared for some sadness (not too bad though I didn’t think), but also some laughs and fun times as well.
Favorite Quotes: (shouldn’t be any spoilers)
Somewhere along the California seashore, a strange wind blows over the ocean, and twenty oblivious boys simultaneously look up from their surfboards.
“So Old Man Date Rape was number what?” she asks. “Four or five?”
“We’re not counting him,” I say. “This is the Twenty Boy Summer, not the Twenty Dirty Old Man Summer.”
Against my better judgement, which seems to be conspicuously absent these days, I accept the hard reality that I maybe might possibly be just the slightest tiniest littlest bit kinda sorta interested in him.