Saturday, September 18, 2010

Review: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Twenty Boy Summer
Author: Sarah Ockler
Series: N/A
Pages: 290
Genre: Fiction, romance
Release Date: June 9, 2009
How Received: Library

Summary: "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 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 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.

My Thoughts:
I... am pretty much speechless. I don’t even know how I can begin to review this book without marring it somehow.

Twenty Boy Summer is a heart-wrenching story about love, loss, friendships, and moving on. Sarah Ockler’s prose was lyrical, poignant, and beautiful: this book is beyond stunning. This book is so tragically honest and full of raw emotion. This book moved me.

Don’t be fooled by the title. It sounds like a light, warm read – it’s not. It will tear you up with the grief and spit you back out again. I can’t begin to tell you how many tissues I used throughout this whole book.

The premise of the book was light, and fun, enough. Twenty boys for the twenty three days they’d be in Zanzibar Bay. Even so, Matt’s death loomed over the entire family like a cloud of repressed, raw emotion.

Grief is a funny thing to deal with. For those of us who have lost someone through death, it’s... It’s like a part of you dies along with them, especially if your bond was really close. I felt myself empathizing with Anna – I couldn’t help but feel transported back to 8 years ago when I lost someone closer to me than anyone else. I felt the same way she had when Matt died: lost, alone, abandoned, frozen in time.

I couldn’t help but love Anna – I connected to her the most. She was gripped in the throngs of despair, but she had to be the strong one. She had to take care of the new wild-Frankie, and always took a back seat with her feelings. No one ever bothered to ask how she was. No one bothered to notice that maybe she was hurting just as much as they were. I couldn’t connect with Frankie. She was just the annoying, out of control best friend Anna had. I know I shouldn’t count that against her, since it – sex, smoking cigarettes, excessive flirting, attitude – was the way she dealt with Matt’s death; the way to get her parents to acknowledge her again. But I did count it against her. I hated her near the end of the book – and if you read this, you’ll see why. It was hard to stay mad at her, though.

Most Memorable Scene: The scene near the end with Anna’s journal, the banished mermaid, and the ocean... I was so torn up with grief and my tears that I had to stop reading and get some air. 

Cover Musings: I always thought the cover was lovely. After reading this, I thought it was pure amazing. I knew what the glasses in the heart meant; I saw the red piece of glass. My heart broke again. This is such a beautiful, symbolic cover.

Memorable Quotes:
THIS NOVEL IS A MECCA OF QUOTES. If I didn’t have the library copy, I would have torn this novel up with high lights. I have about 60 quotes from this novel alone.

“When someone you love dies, people ask you how you’re doing, but they don’t really want to know. They seek affirmation that you’re okay, that you appreciate their concern, that life goes on and so can they. Secretly they wonder when the statute of limitations on asking expires (it’s three months, by the way. Written or unwritten, that’s about all the time it takes for people to forget the one thing that you never will.)” (pg. 73-74)

“When it happens, you’re totally unprepared, fragmented and lost, looking for the hidden meaning in every little thing. I’ve replayed the events of that day a hundred thousand times, looking for clues. An alternate ending. The butterfly effect.” (pg. 88)

“I just swallow hard.
Nod and smile.
One foot in front of the other.
I’m fine, thanks for not asking.” (pg. 273)

“Nothing ever really goes away – it just changes into something else. Something beautiful.” (pg. 289)

Overall Comments/Final Thoughts: The girls’ journey to moving on was such an emotional roller coaster – one moment you were crying with them, then laughing, then getting angry, then crying again, and then getting hopeful. This novel was beyond brilliance, capturing grief, guilt, anger, and hope perfectly. A definite must read! 

Rating: 5/5

Read an excerpt here on Goodreads. 

1 comment:

Felicity Grace Terry said...

High praise indeed, thanks for the recommendation.

Post a Comment

Hello, readers! ♥ Thank you for taking the time to comment! I try to return the favor as much as I can. :)

Remember that if you're entering for a giveaway or for whatever other reason, leave your e-mail in the following format: helloxthere[at]gmail[dot]com.

Thanks for stopping by! ♥