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Twenty Boy Summer

by Sarah Ockler


The first time Matt kissed her on her 15th birthday, Anna saw her life run before her eyes.

They would get married and have children and live next door to Frankie, Matt’s sister and her best friend since forever.

But three weeks later, Matt was dead and Anna was alone in her grief, because no one knew they shared that kiss or the ones that followed. Matt had asked Anna to keep their relationship a secret so as not to hurt Frankie. He would tell her, he promised Anna, at the right time. But he never did.

Now one year later, Anna is still broken inside, and Frankie has emerged from her mourning, an oversexed beauty obsessed with clothes, make-up and boys.

When Frankie’s parents ask Anna to go with them to Zanzibar Bay in California for three weeks, Anna accepts.

Anna has never been in California, but knows all about it from the letters Matt wrote to her every summer. She knows about the ocean that goes on forever and about City Lights, the old bookstore in San Francisco he visited often, and about combing the beach looking for the polished glass he used to make his jewelry.

While shopping for their trip, Frankie has an idea. To spend their best summer ever they must meet 20 boys. Among them, she tells Anna, she will surely find one to her liking.

She won’t, Anna thinks. She will not like any of them. How could she when she is still in love with Matt? And although she goes along with Frankie’s plan, she is certain her friend is wrong.

Until she meets Sam.

Told from Anna’s point of view and alternating the present story with her memories of Matt, Twenty Boy Summer is an honest, unsparing look at the heartbreak and despair that comes with great loss. It is about beginnings and endings, about falling in love and saying goodbye, and about learning how to make a new heart out of all the broken pieces life throws at us.

A smart, satisfying read.

The Book

Little Brown and Company
June 2009
ARC for Hardcover
Young Adult Fiction
More at
NOTE: Mild drinking and age appropriate implicit sex

The Reviewer

Carmen Ferreiro Esteban
Reviewed 2009
NOTE: Reviewer Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban is author of the award-winning YA fantasy novel Two Moon Princess [2007], recipient of the ForeWord Magazine Bronze Award for Juvenile Fiction. Its sequel, The King in the Stone, is scheduled to be published in 2010.
© 2009