Kid Konnection: Twenty Boy Summer
Anna has been friends with Francesca (Frankie) and her older brother Matt forever and it seems that just as she and Matt discover that they like each other he dies of a congenital heart defect. Everyone mourns in their own way and, after a year, Frankie’s family decides it’s time to vacation in California and they’ve invited Anna to go with them. She’s excited to see a place Matt loved so much, but discovers that Frankie has plans – she thinks it time for Anna to lose her virginity (or Anna’s Albatross) and sets up a challenge.
I just meant that if we could meet a boy a day, and maybe do a little test-drive, certainly you could ditch the A. A. at some point, right? We can even make it a contest. Whoever gets the most prospects —wins.
Anna reluctantly agrees and finds herself doing things she’s uncomfortable with. She makes some mistakes before the summer is over but also grows up a lot.
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler is a book full of emotion. I thought the grief in this book felt very real and I appreciated the fact that Ockler showed that everyone experiences grief in a different way. I felt the book was well written and the story flowed well, but have to admit to having some problems with it.
First of all, Anna was sneaking out to meet her older boyfriend, Matt, and keeping their relationship a secret at his insistence. He wanted to be the one to tell Frankie because he didn’t want to hurt her. I couldn’t figure out why Frankie would be hurt – I would think she would be thrilled. Anna’s relationship with Matt was portrayed as romantic but it felt manipulative to me and made me uncomfortable.
The other issue I had was probably related to my age – I couldn’t help but wonder when a young girl’s virginity became an albatross and didn’t like the way the girls wanted to sleep with a boy just so they wouldn’t be virgins anymore. In fact, Frankie mentioned that the first time really shouldn’t be with someone they liked.
Anna finally figures out that Frankie puts on a false bravado and often portrays herself as more worldly than she really is. I hope that teens who read the book see that and remember it the next time they encounter someone like that.
Overall, Twenty Boy Summer, was an okay read for me in spite of being well written and emotional. I would never suggest banning it as others have, but I would suggest reading and discussing it with your teen if they show an interest in it.
For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.