And now...on with the review.
Final Grade: 90/B
Review copy purchased
BLURB: "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.
REVIEW: TWENTY BOY SUMMER is one of the three main books on Wesley Scroggins's hit list (What fabulous company: Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK and Kurt Vonnegut's SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE. As a writer, I certainly wouldn't mind being grouped with those literary powerhouses!). If you want to read what Scroggins wrote, you can read it here. Sarah Ockler herself wrote a wonderful response to his words here.
Anna didn't expect to fall in love with her best-friend-that's-a-boy, Matt. She and Matt didn't mean to keep the secret of their romance from Frankie, Matt's sister and Anna's BFF. But Matt died before he could tell his sister about his love for Anna, and Anna didn't know how to tell Frankie about Matt without breaking Frankie's heart.
So Anna travels to California with Frankie and her family, hoping the time at the beach will help ease the pain. Frankie's plan is for both of them to meet twenty boys over their stay. But, after the first four guys (or three, if you count the two guys who smiled at them their first day as just one), Anna meets Sam. Sam who makes her feel all tingly and makes her sad thoughts float away. Their romance is sweet, and Sam is exactly what she needs to let go of her first love and move on with her life.
However, there are still dark clouds on the horizon--Anna still hasn't told Frankie about Matt, despite it being a year later. And I never quite understood why. Sure, Matt said he wanted to be the one to tell Frankie but Matt died. Sometimes, there's just not a "perfect" time to give people difficult news. You've just got to do it. This goes to Anna's personality, I guess. She's not really the go-getter type. So, all the way through the book, I was on tenterhooks waiting for that big confrontation I knew was going to happen--I figured either Anna would blurt it out or Frankie would find out somehow. (No, I'm not telling! Read the book!)
Despite my wanting to shake Anna and tell her to tell Frankie already, I really liked this book. Throughout it, you could practically taste everyone's pain of losing a loved one, a brother, and a child. Ockler's words truly reflect the family's grief in a realistic way. I even cried, just a little. A beautiful story of love and loss, TWENTY BOY SUMMER washes away the pain with the sigh of the ocean.