Anna and Frankie are best friends and neighbours. They’ve known each other for their whole lives and don’t keep secrets. But when Frankie proposes the idea of meeting one boy a day during their summer vacation in Zanzibar Bay, California, Anna agrees with her and doesn’t tell her that she’s already met her true love. Matt. Frankie’s older brother and Anna’s childhood friend.
Before Matt passed away in a fatal car accident, Anna promised him that she wouldn’t be the one to tell Frankie; he would. Bound by a promise she can’t break, Anna travels all the way across the country with Frankie, making another promise to Frankie to give love a try this summer.
Full of heartbreak and loss, Twenty Boy Summer tells the story of Anna and her journey of forgetting the one she thought she’d never lose…and finding herself on the way.
I absolutely loved this book! I was sick when I devoured it, so reading it was especially sweet since I loved imagining the beaches of California and the smells of lobster and grilled fish as I lay on my couch, tissue clenched in one hand.
Anna’s voice is clear and easy to relate to; she wasn’t snobby or boring, I enjoyed reading about her struggle with trying to remember Matt, while trying to live her life as well. Matt and Anna had only discovered their feelings for each other, after knowing each other since they were kids, when he was tragically killed in a car accident one year ago. The pain and melancholy associated with this event was described by Ockler perfectly; it was a mix of sadness and nostalgia, as well as a desire for things that could have been.
Frankie, Anna’s best friend, is another strong character. She was just as strong as Anna, and well-developed. She has no idea that her best friend and older brother had fallen in love or that they had made plans with each other. She deals with the loss of Matt in her own way, sometimes self-destructively, sometimes quietly. Watching her grow and change over the summer was great. Similarly, Frankie’s parents weren’t absent and had their own stories of pain and loss, which was hinted at during the story. No character was flat or boring.
The thing that made me fall head over heels in love with this book was the setting. I’ve never been on vacation or to California, and so the descriptions that Ockler gave about the excitement, the anxiety, the happiness made my heart soar. The words about the sun and sea, about the sumptuous food and villa, were a feast and I gobbled them right up.
While this was a light and quick read, there are moments of seriousness splattered throughout and its not completely shallow or a beach-read. I would liken it books by Sarah Dessen.
So for that: 4.5/5.
Thanks for reading!