Author: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Publication Date: June 1, 2009
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.)
They don't want to know that you'll never again eat birthday cake because you don't want to erase the magical taste of frosting on his lips. That you wake up everyday wondering why you got to live and he didn't. That on the first afternoon of your first real vacation, you sit in front of the ocean, face hot under the giant sun, willing him to give you a sign that he's okay.
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler is UH-MA-ZING! Almost all aspects of it are flawless. Again, there is so much to say about this book so I'm going to break it down for you:
The Cover. Have you seen the cover? It's so vibrant and eye-catching. The red glass stands out above all of the other sea glass. They were extremely significant in Twenty Boy Summer. I loved it. The book has a lot of references to sea glass. It's pure genius and completely original. The only thing I didn't really like was the title. I didn't think that Twenty Boy Summer was an appropriate title, but don't judge a book by it's title!
The writing. Ockler's writing all throughout this book was beautiful and smooth. Not once did I find a flaw in her writing. The words just flowed, seemingly effortless. There's no other way to explain it. Ockler described everything with detail but it was never boring. Her writing was like discovering everything all over again...full of wonder and awe.
The characters. Every single character in that book was well-developed and realistic. Even though I couldn't relate to most of the characters (because I haven't experienced that type of love yet), I loved them all. Anna and Frankie were my favorites. Anna was so intent on not forgetting Matt, and on keeping her secret from Frankie, that she wasn't able to let go yet. The way Ockler was able to depict Anna's emotions was beyond impressive. She was so mature but in those little moments with Frankie, her youth shines through.
In my opinion, the character that Ockler did the best job on, was Frankie. Ockler was able to change Frankie's character and personality so completely. At first, I thought that the sudden change in character was random, but as the ending neared, I was able to gain more insight into her character, her emotions, and how she dealt with them. I was able to understand how it really felt like to loose a sibling. Character-developement is definitely Ockler's strength in this book.
Layers. On the surface, this is just another chick-lit book. But underneath the layers of flirt, angst, and love, lies the underlying message of what it means to truly let go and what it means to truly be friends. I saw through these layers and double meanings. This book made my heart break and it made me laugh and smile.
The Bottom Line: Twenty Boy Summer is an incredible debut. Reading this has made me more appreciative and thankful for everything in my life, just a little bit more. No words can explain it. You just have to read it yourself. Twenty Boy Summer is a book of friendship, first love, family, and ultimately, letting go. Ockler did an impeccable job. A+ :-)
Don't move, Sarah Ocker. Right now, everything is perfect.
My reaction/enjoyment: 10/10
Total Score: 99/100 (A+)