Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, a division of Hachette Book Group
Rating: 4.5 stars
Frankie is spunky and outgoing, while Anna is studious and reserved but despite their differences, the two teenagers are best friends. Along with Frankie's older brother, Matt, they spend all of their free time together but for weeks Anna and Matt have been keeping a secret. Anna's crush on Matt finally turned into something more but Matt insists on keeping it from Frankie because he thinks it will hurt her. Before Matt can tell Frankie the truth, he is killed in a horrific car accident, leaving everyone shocked and heartbroken. The next year Frankie's family decides to return to their annual summer vacation spot with Anna in tow but nothing will ever be the same. Frankie convinces Anna that they should have a string of summer flings - a twenty boy summer -but Anna is still deeply in love with Matt.
Twenty Boy Summer has something for everyone. For those who enjoy a great summer read this book is a perfect combination of summer romances, close friendship and beautiful beaches. Those who seek a more profound read will also be pleasantly surprised because within the book's pages, there is much depth if you look beyond the surface.
Anna not only has to handle her own grief over losing Matt, but she also must come to terms with the guilt she feels from keeping such an important secret from Frankie. If only Frankie understood just how much Matt meant to Anna, they could grieve together. The dynamics of Frankie's family is also suffering and Frankie's parents are dealing with their pain in their own way. This book clearly deals with the sensitive and difficult issue of death and although I sympathized with the characters, I never felt overwhelmed.
Teen sexuality is also explored throughout the book but always in good taste. There were times when I was just appalled by Frankie's attitude towards losing her virginity and sex, as if it was something you need to get over with and move on. However, you soon learn that nothing everything is as it seems and much of that attitude stems from the loss of her brother and the grieving process. There are important lessons to be learned and eventually the right message is conveyed.
This story is perfect for reading in one sitting and even those who don't typically read YA books will enjoy and benefit from reading this book. Much to my surprise, this is Sarah Ockler's first novel and I really look forward to seeing (and reading!) what she comes up with next.
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BIG THANKS to Caitlin of FSB Associates for my review copy