I have decided to review another young adult fiction novel by an author who also has recently published another work. On January 3rd, Sarah Ockler's third novel Bittersweet hit the bookshelves and I am excited to eventually read it. Twenty Boy Summer was Ockler's first novel and one that I am glad I picked up on kind of a whim.
The Situation: Anna is getting ready to tag along with her best friend, Frankie, and her family for their annual summer trip to Zanzibar. Frankie is determined that they each meet one guy a day for each of the twenty days they are there. If they really do meet a different guy each day, than there is a real chance that Anna will have her first summer romance.
The Problem: Anna already had her first summer romance the previous year...with Frankie's brother...and Frankie has no idea. Matt promised Anna he would tell his sister after his family had left for their trip, but he never came through on the promise. Before the family leaves, Anna, Matt, and Frankie are all in a car accident that leaves Anna and Frankie as the only survivors. A year later, everyone is still hurting. Anna can't seem to let Matt and her secret romance go, and Frankie has turned into a self-destructive, self-absorbed nightmare. Even so, the trip to Zanzibar Bay is on and so is the twenty boy challenge.
Genre, Theme, History: Not much I can come up with here for history, but there is of course the general themes of love and loss, and also the kind of hurt and anger and bitterness and resentment that can result when people refuse to acknowledge or talk about their loss. Anna holds onto her secret for over a year, fearing that it will damage Frankie even more if she tells her. I personally don't see the big deal, but I am also not 16 anymore so my viewpoint of the situation is slightly altered and probably somewhat jaded. And instead of talking about her brother, Frankie decides to hook up with every cute (but incredibly vapid) guy she meets and dress like a street-walker. Her mom and dad are also pretty preoccupied with their own feelings, so Frankie is kind of left to deal with her pain on her own there.
My Verdict: I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. It is kind of a light summer read, but there is more to it than that. With some of the scenes I could almost feel the tension from the pages. And some of the interactions between Frankie and Anna will make a lot of females incredibly embarassed because some of us know we have had similar conversations...more similar than we would care to admit.
Favorite Moment: Overall I just liked the setting of Zanzibar Bay. I am having a hard time picking one particular scene in general but I kind of wish this vacation spot actually existed.
Favorite Character: I also do not think I could pick out a favorite character since they all spend a good amount of time getting on my nerves. Anna is a very sweet and very relateable girl next door, but I still have a hard time rooting for her. This may be why I only gave the book three stars on Goodreads even though I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Recommended Reading: Fixing Delilah, Ockler's second novel. Not as strong as this one in my opinion, but still a good read.