Review: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Title: Twenty Boy Summer
Author: Sarah Ockler
Published: May 1, 2010
Pages: 320
Source: purchased

Amazon Summary: 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.

Finally I got my hands on 'Twenty Boy Summer.' Coming-of-age, growing, learning, coping.. are words that come to mind when I think of the book.

I dislike saying "this book wasn't what I'd anticipated (or expected)" since that isn't really a fair statement, but I can't help myself and I say this regretfully.
There was no doubt that I so badly wanted to love 'Twenty Boy Summer', and I have loved it from afar and through wonderful reviews prior to reading it (maybe that was the problem). 

I wanted to fall hard for Matt and Anna and be wholeheartedly invested in what was lost or never explored, all the things they were and, most importantly, could have been. I wanted to be sad and heartbroken, but I wasn't really.

I think of 'In Honor' by Jessi Kirby where I fell in love with Honor's brother, Finn, who came alive through memories and thoughts, and how he truly captured by heart.

I wish I'd grown more attached to Matt, in whichever way - before he died, after he died. I would've liked to still be able to get to know him, have him grow on me and have my emotions grow for him, though, his death and the mention of him was mostly taboo and the Perino family were still trying to pick up the pieces he left behind - still breaking.

In other words, I had hoped 'Twenty Boy Summer' would've been more uplifting than.. forlorn, I guess, which brings me to the "twenty boys" plot - I hadn't known what to expect since, let's face it, twenty boys is a little excessive but I'd hoped it'd have a purpose of lighting up the story. Unfortunately, it didn't exactly and Frankie's twenty boys idea soon faded out of the picture.

At the end of the day it was Frankie who made an impression on me. I recognized her way of coping with Matt's absence, how it changed her and pushed her. Frankie acted out, yet it was clear how fragile she really was - you tiptoed in her presence as if she would shatter at any time.

I, honestly, had a difficult time putting myself in Anna's shoes, I couldn't really identify her. Anna wasn't there. Her mind was so diffused. And I really didn't comprehend the deal with Sam - he was perfectly sweet but it didn't feel right or somehow appropriate. I couldn't justify his spot in the storyline or if he actually contributed anything to the plot.

I appreciated the rough patch in Anna and Frankie's friendship. It was hugely needed - the girls desperately needed to blow off some steam. It was realistic and I was happy with the way 'Twenty Boy Summer' left off.


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