Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler has been one of those books everyone loves that I never got to reading. Well, on a whim, I had bought the paperback edition a few months ago because not only is the cover pretty, but the story sounded just as beautiful.
Sarah Ockler’s writing is fluid like water—like the ocean. Anna’s voice is personal and poetic. I enjoyed experiencing the story through her eyes and I found her thoughts and reactions to be pretty spot-on for a teenager. I really like how Anna has to correct Frankie’s vocabulary all the time and their friendship is believable, especially because they each have their flaws.
Watching Anna grow as a person is great to “watch”. She does everything in her power to make sure everyone around her is okay and happy, but doesn’t give herself much time to feel that way. I think a lot of people, girls and boys, will be able to relate to her in that manner.
Unlike most YA novels, both Frankie and Anna’s parents are present in the novel, more Frankie’s than Anna’s, but nonetheless they all play a role in the story. Instead of only focusing on Anna and Frankie’s grief over Matt’s death, Ms. Ockler included the parents’ grief, too. This makes the story well-rounded and helps illustrate the different ways people deal with death.
When I finished reading the novel, I wished there had been more detailing of Matt and Anna’s relationship before his death. But then I realized Twenty Boy Summer is not about what happens before. It’s about what happens after and once I realized this, the story became even more beautiful.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Twenty Boy Summer. At times it moved a little slowly, but then the story would regain its momentum and keep me reading. Anna is a wonderful narrator and character and her story is a sad, but beautiful one. Sarah Ockler handles the subjects of love, loss, and growth wonderfully and readers may even find themselves feeling like a changed person. Twenty Boy Summer is available now and for more information on Sarah Ockler’s writing, please visit:
(cover image taken from Barnes and Nobles’ website)