Wednesday, 3 June 2009

The Book Review Club June - Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: June 2009
Age Range: Young Adult
Pages: 304

"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 ZanzibarBay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever 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.

Summer can be cheerful and giggling. Summer can be romantic and stormy. Or nostalgic. Depressing. Empty. Hopeful. In this debut book of Sarah Ockler, summer can be everything and anything you want. With a fresh, attractive voice, Twenty Boy Summer introduces you to a time of the year so gorgeous yet so heartbreaking, a summer of family, friendship, and true love.

Sarah Ockler's writing is amazing. On interacting with her I realize that she is a great author, someone who is honest and lovable. Her book, unsurprisingly, is just the same.

There was not much elaboration in the background of the story, instead, everything went straight to the main point - Matt died and lives changed for the rest of the characters. Still, the story was so well planned out you couldn't find a flaw. One step forward of Anna and Frankie's vacation was one step back to the happy past of the three when Matt was alive, which, to me, was creative and easy to follow. The exact amount of flashbacks made things not too poignant, however, gave us enough details about how it all used to be. I also loved the variety of ways used to describe reminiscenes of Matt, especially the whispers and the letters Anna wrote in her journal.

The book shared a story of grief and letting go and what I liked about it was how the author balanced between not drowing the readers into sadness (after all, it's a book about summer and summer is supposed to be fun) and preventing things from being too typical or plain. It made me squeal inside like a fangirl, it made me laugh hysterically and it, too, made me want to tear. The feelings brought are pure and just right. If reading My Big Nose & Other Natural Disasters is like talking to be best friend then turning the pages of Twenty Boy Summer is exactly what it feels to scanning through a journal - peaceful at the same time eventful.

Anna and Matt are my favorite of the story. Anna was lovely, strong though timid. She was simple to relate to. I loved her confessions and thoughts about her love for Matt and how she maintained to go on without him. They were so true and heartfelt. And Matt, even though just made his appearance here and there in blurry memories, was even more appealing than Sam, perhaps for his sincerity. The strong connection between the two almost overshadowed Anna's new romance, especially when it was strengthened by the beautiful meaningful necklace. Each and every reader, for sure, will fall in love with that precious necklace.

Twenty Boy Summer is a gorgeous book inside out. It encourages us to cherish every moment of lives that we're living; noone should cling to to the past just for we're afraid to leave behind what we love, because, as we move on, they will come along with us, and always will.

Rating: 4/5


Barrie said...

Thao, what a wonderful review. Sarah Ockler sounds as though she writes like Sarah Dessen. Does she?

Bee said...

My teenage daughter would love this book. Thanks so much for the review!

Keri Mikulski said...

Can't wait to get my hands on this one.

Sarahlynn said...

Now I'm so curious about that necklace!

Stacy Nyikos said...

Cherish the time we have. What a deep, important message. Carpe diem :-)

Sarah Laurence said...

Summer, romance and grief - what a roller coaster. I'm curious about the necklace too.

Brooke Reviews said...

Awe this sounds kind of sad, but also like it has happy moments. I'll have to add this to my wishlist. :)

pepsivanilla said...

I can't believe I haven't read this one by now! It sounds so great.

Jessy said...

Sounds really good, I will have to try it out. I think the cover is very attractive. I don't know why though it just always catches my eye when I see it.

randomlybree said...

Great review!
I still haven't read this one, but it's on my Christmas list! :)


Euphoria13 said...

Cool Review! I have been wanting to read this book since i found it on Goodreads back in October.