Review : Twenty Boy Summer

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Pages : 290
Genre : YA, Fiction
Stand alone
My Rating :

From the Book’s Jacket :

According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in 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.

When the book first came out, it was everywhere. Reviews, interviews, chats, giveaways… It was impossible to open my feed reader and not find a post about it. What made me curious about it was how every review of it was a raving one. Oh, I’m sure some people didn’t like it as much; but the ones I read were all extremely positive.

Having just read the book, I can see why. It was such an amazing novel, both heartbreaking and filled with summer, nostalgic and beautifully written. I loved the story, the characters, the narration : this book gripped me from the first line and carried me right to the end, almost in one single breath. I loved, loved, loved it. I laughed, I cried – yes, I did. I can’t remember the last time a book pulled my strings in such a way, but it did.

What made it so good to me was Ockler’s writing and the way she brings detail into her narration. The story in itself was good, yes, but not something unheard of; it’s the way the story was told that made it such a great read. I think one of Ockler’s strength was how Anna and Frankie, despite having been through a traumatic event, still acted and thought like teenagers. Her descriptions of teenage sexuality were also one of the most realistic I’ve seen in YA fiction : she found the perfect balance between the stereotypes of “easy” and “abstinent”, which made it sound extremely true to me.

I took notes on the passages I wanted to share in this review, and there were just so many, but here are a few that I really liked :

[…] he kissed me, one frosting-covered hand moving from my hair to the back of my neck, the other solid and warm in the small of my back, pressing us together, my chest against his ribs, my hip bones just below his, the tops of our bare summer legs hot and touching. I stopped breathing. My eyes were closed and his mouth tasted like marzipan and cigarettes, and in ten seconds the whole of my life was wrapped up in that one kiss, that one wish, that one secret that would forever divide my life in two parts. (p. 7)

And :

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.


If I could find the butterfly that flapped its wings before we got into the car that day, I would crush it. (p.88)

And :

The whole idea of loosing one’s virginity is kind of ridiculous. To lose something implies carelessness. A mistake that you can fix by recovering the lost object, like your cell phone or your glasses. Virginity is more like shedding something that losing it. As in, “Don’t worry, Mom. You can call off the helicopters and police dogs. Turns out – get this – I didn’t actually lose my virginity. I just cast it off somewhere between here and Monterey. Can you believe it? It could be anywhere by now, what with all that wind.” (p.192-193)

If you’re one of the few who read YA fiction but haven’t read this one yet, I can’t recommend it enough. It reminded me slightly of two of my favorite YA fiction books from last year, Artichoke’s Heart and The Summer I Turned Pretty (probably that second one more than the first), but the writing made it even more memorable for me. I already know that, come December 2010, it will be on my top reads of the year!

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13 responses to “Review : Twenty Boy Summer”

  1. Amanda says :

    Can’t wait to read this!!!

  2. Ceri says :

    You’re right – When this one came out, it was hard to get away from it. That’s why it’s on my wishlist and I can’t wait to read it. Your review just made me all the more excited about it. 😀

  3. alitareads says :

    So glad to hear this one lived up to the hype! I really very much want to read it.

  4. bermudaonion says :

    Wow! I’ve had this one for a while and have been waiting for all the buzz to die down before I read it. It sounds like I need to read it soon.

  5. Staci says :

    I have had this book on my shelf for a very lonnnnggg time…after reading your awesome review I will have to move it into the must read pile!!!

  6. myfriendamy says :

    I completely agree with you about the writing, i thought it was absolutely beautiful.

  7. Lex says :

    Oh the blurb caught me! And much more with your excellent review. It will be on my list.

  8. kay says :

    Oh, I do encourage you all to read it : if you like it only half as much as I did, you’ll enjoy it really! 🙂

  9. Lenore says :

    Great quotes you pulled. I liked this one too.

  10. Violet says :

    I’ve read almost all +ve reviews for this one too. But you have listed some beautiful excerpts. Great review Kay.

  11. Meg says :

    Wow — sounds really, really powerful, and definitely like something I would love. I’ll be grabbing it for sure!

  12. Jennifer says :

    Well, that was a beautiful review – and the writing does sound phenomenal. I loved those quotes you shared. Definitely going to be requesting this one as one of my Spring Break reads. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention. I must have been MIA when everyone else was reviewing this because I hadn’t heard of it.

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