Title: Twenty Boy Summer
Author: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
“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.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this book. I had heard some good things about Sarah Ockler but not a whole lot, and for some reason I just had trouble fully understanding what to expect based on the premise. I don’t think this is the reason I wasn’t a big fan of the book, though – that honor goes to the fact that I didn’t really like the characters.
Anna, the main character, annoyed me, and her best friend, who was understandably upset over the death of her brother, was much too uneven. Anna was my main issue with this book, though. I feel like she was one of those shy characters who didn’t always seem as shy as she was supposedly was. This is just a huge pet peeve of mine – if the author is going to give a character the trait of shyness, then the character has to actually seem shy, at least in the beginning. Sure, she could be quiet, especially compared to her best friend, but I don’t think she was necessarily shy. While I had trouble rooting for her with her Twenty Boy challenge, at the same time I didn’t care about her old relationship with her best friend’s brother. I felt bad for her since she couldn’t properly mourn, but that was about all the sympathy I felt toward her. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t get myself to care about the relationship. Maybe it was because it was in the past and I was too busy paying attention to Anna’s present life, but I just didn’t care, and in a fairly character-driven story like this, it makes it difficult to enjoy the story. Sure, there’s the idea of a Twenty Boy Challenge, but if you don’t like the characters or at least care about them a little then the story isn’t really going to interest you. At least it didn’t interest me.
So, in general, I wasn’t a big fan of this book. However, I still plan on trying out Sarah Ockler’s two other books published so far because I’ve heard plenty of great things about her and I’ve started reading more contemporary than paranormal and Sarah Ockler is considered essential in the YA contemporary world.