Book Review: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

“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 Anna’s 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 her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.

My Rating:  2 cupcakes

After seeing all of the glowing recommendations about this book, I knew that I had to give it a read. I was expecting something like The Sky is Everywhere based on the summary, but unfortunately what I read was neither as touching nor as poignant as I had hoped.

I wasn’t really a fan of any of the characters. Anna’s relationship with Matt was sweet to read, but the all-encompassing feelings she had for him seemed to be her defining feature when she was alone. She was far too passive and I quickly became annoyed with her willingness to go along with anything that Frankie suggested. Frankie, on the other hand, came across as shallow, self-absorbed and cruel. While I understood that her rebelliousness was a response to her brother’s death, I didn’t truly feel any sympathy towards her until the end – and even then, I couldn’t quite excuse the way that she treated both Anna and her parents. As for Sam, he had a lot of potential to be a strong, likeable character, but instead he was a strange mix of sweet and caring and detached.

While many of the scenes felt like fillers that I skimmed over, the writing itself was quite beautiful and poetic. There were many standout lines that I wish I could have highlighted, such as: I really don’t even know you, and yet, in my life, you are forever entangled; to my history, inextricably bound. As an added bonus, the cover is not only beautiful; it’s actually related to the plot.

Overall, Twenty Boy Summer was nowhere near what I expected. If the characters were given as much attention as the countless descriptions of the beach, this might have been a more enjoyable read.

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