Spring Break is a wonderful time to read books beyond what I need to meet the daily needs of my middle-schoolers. I’m tackling this pile of more mature titles and books for high schoolers. Enter in Sarah Ockler’s 20 Boy Summer which will be released in hardcover June, 2009 (Little Brown & Co., ISBN 978-0-316-05159-0, $16.99).
20 Boy Summer is a beautifully written story of love, friendship, summer romances, and dealing with grief. At times I was so consumed with the character’s grief that I felt I had lost a potential love. I admit I cried and grieved anew during the journal and ocean scene. This is a healing title that does not downplay the roller-coaster of emotions after the death of a friend/brother/boyfriend/son. Yet 20 Boy Summer helps us move through our grief to learn how to continue with life and how to savor each moment.
Anna has lost her first love and through a twist of fate feels she must keep this a secret from her BFF Frankie (a girl). For all those students who shoulder adult burdens and take on the pain of others while they are masking their own grief, 20 Boy Summer will be a catharsis.
Frankie attempts to move on by setting a goal with Anna to meet 20 boys in their 20 days of vacation while at the same time ditching the A.A. – Anna’s Albatross (aka her virginity). Yes, readers, there is some teenage protected sex in this title, but not rampant promiscuity. (I’ve been waiting to use that phrase). Instead there is gentle and sweet summer romance with grounded ideas of the future instead of grandiose dreams. Because the emotions after sex aren’t delved into enough to satisfy my grown-up wishes, I’d probably keep this on my high school recommendation list first, but I’m open for debate.
20 Boy Summer takes us through a three week summer vacation on the ocean shores that I could never experience growing up in land-locked Iowa. For all students who want to go somewhere and experience a different life, 20 Boy Summer will take you there. I have this overwhelming urge to wander the beaches looking for sea glass. Anyone have a place on the shores and need a visitor?
20 Boy Summer helps us learn to add new memories without fearing they will overwrite or replace our existing memories. This is a definite must read on my grief list and on my MUST READ FOR SUMMER list.
I hope you will take the time to curl up with 20 Boy Summer. It is a lovely read. The emotions you will work through as you read are cleansing and will enable you to begin anew for the summer. I love Anna and Frankie and will miss them as I lay down this book. Be sure you pick it up.
Check out author Sarah Ockler’s blog and be sure to join her Facebook page. A wide variety of comments are available on GoodReads, also, including the suggestion that fans of Sarah Dessen should definitely read 20 Boy Summer.