Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler (June 1st 2009—Little Brown)
Grade: 4 stars out of 5
"Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it." "Okay." "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 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: Sarah Ockler weaved a tragic love story as easy as pie. Effortless and yet full of tender and care she told of a brother, love, and a best friend’s death cause to the breakdown of two families life.
I am a sucker for a tragic love story and Sarah delivered it to me. It was a stunning book that left me breathless. Matt’s accident left a hole in Anna’s heart where she faces life with a façade even to her closet friend. It was a tender matter, holding back your own tears and trying to be the strong one that you promised to be. Francesca’s and Anna’s friendship is one with ups and downs but always remaining strong despite the heated fights. Sarah crafted the constant struggle to maintain to strained smile, wishing—hoping—to remember the past but still letting go what needs to be done in a expert manner that needs to be applauded. Although I may have not cried throughout the book, I was still emotional attached to Anna’s journey, so bravo to Ms. Ockler for making me almost cry—almost.
One of my favorite parts was this quote “Shhh, ahhh. Shhh, ahhh” (I pick the oddest quotes ever). There are so many ways you can interpret this. The sound of the waves—coming and going, the quiet hum of secrets, the possibilities of the future lingering with the past, I can go on and on with it.
It was like Matt was still with us; cajoling Anna to hold onto their secret but a slight hesitation that if told would might make things better. Or even voicelessly trying to tell Anna what they were, what they could have been, and yet telling her that he’s gone to live life to the fullest. It’s the gentle lull of the waves pulling you closer—helping you forget, but then regretting it a step later, maybe, just maybe, you can make things right for yourself. It whispers into your ear with a sad voice that it is okay to cry but to not let it hold you down—pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and face on to life.
The intensity of the book was the strongest at the beginning and toward the end. It somewhat faded in the middle where she focused more on Sam and vacation. While I enjoyed this one touching scene between Anna and Sam, I would have liked a bit more dialogue between the two. It was a bit fast paced and not really developed that left me grasping the thin thread.
Overall: Read it and pass it on. “Let someone else have a lucky day”.
This cover is something that I love. Rich and intense colors, great symbolism, and the appearance that the pieces were randomly placed.
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