Ockler, Sarah. Twenty Boy Summer. New York, Little, Brown and Co., 2009. Print.
image from: www.goodreads.com
I picked this book off The Hive (our school district's ebook collection) because I see it come across the counter in my library A LOT! I thought the cover was pieces of torn paper, but now I understand it is sea glass.
This is a typical high school girl love story kind of story. It was a bit predictable and sometimes far-fetched, but the overarching story was pleasant. It is 33 chapters long, 482 pages.
There are three friends: Matt, his sister Frankie, and their neighbor Anna.These three are so close, but one night, Matt & Anna kiss and begin a secret relationship that is more than just friends. Matt & Anna will keep this a secret until Matt can tell his sister on their annual family vacation to the beach. Tragically, Matt dies soon after this romance begins and before he can tell his sister.
After a year of grieving, the family decides to take the annual trip to the beach, and they take the best friend Anna. There, Frankie and Anna declare a contest to have the Absolute Best Summer Ever (ABSE). "We're in California for twenty-three days, right?...that leaves us...twenty days [for] twenty boys" (Ockler 76). You can predict that their plans fall short.
The girls do meet some boys on the beach. They sneak out. They lie to Frankie's parents. They create untrue identities. One girl thinks, "Then I get mad at myself for letting some boy that I just met dictate what I do with my own face" (Ockler 233). (I was glad to see a glimmer of this message in the book). The girls attend a party where one of the girls has sex on the beach (not the drink). Frankie learns of her brothers "secret" romance by reading Anna's journal. Tensions build. Truths surface.
The parents in this story are secondary. The mother is almost a shadow of a person. They are grieving, but I was glad when Frankie explained, "'I wish she'd get just---I don't know, get mad. Yell. Call me out on my lies. Be disappointed. She doesn't even care'" (Ockler 309). The mother does care, but she is letting her grief overshadow her parenting of her surviving child.
This is a book I will recommend to my teenage girl readers (if there are any left at my school who haven't read this already). There are some thoughtful truths that surface in the story. I will also order some of the author's other books. Teen girls especially love a good love story.