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Kid Konnection: Twenty Boy Summer

July 14, 2012

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.

Review copy provided by FSB Associates.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
12 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2012 8:53 am

    I have to agree with you on the virginity thing, when did being selective become so wrong. Even though I have boys, we/I always talked about “respect” rather than just getting it over with. I hope they listened. And I also agree that banning a book only makes it more appealing. Thanks for your review.

  2. July 14, 2012 8:57 am

    I’ve heard that this is a very emotional book. I’m right there with you about the whole “your first time should be with someone you don’t like” is nuts. I can sort of (sort of) see why he’d want to be the one to tell Frankie only because there always seems to be drama when your best friend starts dating your family. So I’ve heard, so I guess I can sort of understand that one. But the a boy a day thing freaks me out. I still want to read this book because I’ve heard it’s an emotional read and every now and again, I have to read something like that. For some reason.

  3. July 14, 2012 10:55 am

    Unfortunately not all teens can look beyond to see what the book is trying to say. As a parent, I’m realizing more and more the importance of open communication about everything, especially sex, and would hope my kids wouldn’t have to read about promiscuous teens to know it causes heartache. I wish more authors would see how their books influence young minds and write about themes that focus on how precious one’s body is and that it’s okay to wait for the right person.

  4. July 14, 2012 11:07 am

    I thought both things made sense. First, Anna thought Frankie would be hurt because she never told her in the first place, and then by the time they “got together” they had already been together and the more time lapsed, the more it would hurt Frankie that she hadn’t already told her. I myself have been in situations like that!

    I can also relate to the virginity thing. I remember in high school (or actually after high school, heh) thinking that oh no, suppose I die or am killed and they discover in the autopsy that I am still a virgin and I WILL BE SO EMBARRASSED!!! (Obviously there were problems with my thinking. I think I was thinking I would be embarrassed because I was thinking it would provide evidence that “nobody wanted me.” gaaaah, where was Judy Blume when I needed her? But also, why would I have been embarrassed when I was DEAD? gaaaah, good thing those years are over! LOLOL)

  5. Patty permalink
    July 14, 2012 11:37 am

    It sounds good…another one to think about reading!

  6. Amy @ My Friend Amy permalink
    July 14, 2012 2:07 pm

    ah, I remember really loving this book.

  7. bookingmama permalink
    July 14, 2012 7:27 pm

    I had some of the same issues with this that you did. It covers a lot of real and important issues and I agree that it’s one that is ripe for discussion.

  8. Staci@LifeintheThumb permalink
    July 14, 2012 7:33 pm

    I’m shocked when I learn who (students) in my middle school have been drunk and/or are having sex. I think this book would be interesting to read and to discuss with teens.

  9. July 15, 2012 2:03 pm

    I loved that book, and found that I could relate to it easily, even though I never lived through similar events when it comes to a brother or a boyfriend’s death. I understood why Frankie would be hurt by her brother and best friend being together, feeling excluded from their special bond and also never being told about this big part of their lives… to some extent, it made sense to me!
    That being said, I agree there are important issues in this book that would be great topics for discussion.

  10. July 16, 2012 1:04 pm

    I think girls these days try to lose their virginity as early as possible just to be done with the whole thing. As if it’s a weight they are carrying around. Plus, there are a lot of teens doing EVERYTHING but traditional sex and I am not sure that is any better.

  11. July 16, 2012 11:43 pm

    The issues you mentioned are the reason I don’t want to read this one.

  12. boardinginmyforties permalink
    August 10, 2012 8:03 pm

    I would have to selectively recommend this one based on the subject matter.

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