Next-door neighbors Anna and Frankie have felt like sisters all their lives. In Sarah Ockler’s poignant debut novel, Twenty Boy Summer, the girls’ friendship is tested when a freak accident changes their lives forever.
Anna’s longtime crush on Frankie’s older brother, Matt, turns to love when he kisses her on her 15th birthday. They keep their romance a secret, since Matt wants to wait until his family’s summer vacation to break the news to his sister. But the night before the big trip, the three teens experience a tragic car crash which takes Matt’s life.
Now a year later, Anna joins Frankie’s family on their California excursion. While hanging out in all of Matt’s favorite locales, Anna meets Sam and finds instant, mutual attraction. She can’t help but worry, though, that falling in love with Sam means erasing her memories with Matt.
With friendship at the forefront, Anna explores grief and love and the pain and wonders of it all. The teen’s dilemma—how to remember Matt, move on with Sam and still be loyal to Frankie—gives a firm tug on the reader’s heart.
Copyright 2009 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Fall
Best friends Anna and Frankie are inseparable, even more so since Frankie's older brother, Matt, died the previous year. But Anna is keeping a secret that could alter their friendship forever, and the truth comes out during the girls' California vacation. This story of "befores and afters" is a sincere reflection of first loves, broken hearts, and summer flings. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2009 May #2
Anna and Matt were keeping their new romance confidential to spare the feelings of Matt's little sister, Frankie, who is also Anna's best friend. But when an undiagnosed heart condition cuts Matt's life tragically short, Anna is left with a huge secret that robs her of her right to mourn. Now a year later, Anna is accompanying Frankie and her parents on their annual summer trip, their first vacation without Matt. Extrovert Frankie has challenged Anna to flirt with at least 20 boys, one of whom may relieve her of her pesky virginity. But Anna's heart is still burdened by the confidence she refuses to break. Though Matt's character often seems too good to be true, that's precisely what makes him such a swoonworthy object in this sincere, romantic tearjerker. Readers will easily relate to Anna's authentically depicted feelings of lust, longing, shame and fear as she cautiously embarks on a new summer love. The perfect beach read for teens who enjoyed a good cry over Gayle Forman's If I Stay (2009) or Jenny Downham's Before I Die (2007). (Fiction. 13 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 June #4
Anna was best friends with Frankie and her brother, Matt, until all three are in a car accident in which Matt is killed. A year later, Anna and Frankie, struggling to get past Matt's death, head to California with Frankie's parents for a beach vacation, determined to have "the Absolute Best Summer Ever (A.B.S.E)." But Anna has a secret: her friendship with Matt had become an intense romance shortly before the accident, and she cannot determine "the statue of limitations on feeling guilty for cheating on a ghost." Readers will be quickly drawn in and moved by the pain that strains Frankie's family, which ultimately threatens the friends' relationship. The plot takes too long to unfold, however, and teens might be surprised that the title's premise (referring to a bet the girls make that "whoever get the most prospects--wins") almost disappears among other plot points. Still, Ockler's debut is often poetic ("I've replayed the events of that day a hundred thousand times, looking for clues. An alternate ending. The butterfly effect") and the girls' friendship authentic, making for a poignant summer read. Ages 12-up. (June)[Page 45]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Gr 9 Up--Matt and Francesca (Frankie) Perino and their neighbor Anna have been best friends since they were toddlers, but now Anna's feelings for Matt go beyond that. Then, on her 15th birthday, he kisses her. From that moment, their relationship flourishes--in private. Knowing Frankie will be upset, Matt wants to wait until his family goes on their annual summer vacation in Zanzibar Bay, CA, where he can talk to her alone. Anna promises to keep their secret. Tragically, Matt dies the night before they leave, and Anna mourns in secret while trying to save volatile Frankie from her grief and a never-ending streak of reckless behavior. One year later, Frankie and her parents return to Zanzibar Bay, taking Anna with them. Frankie declares that this summer Anna will lose her virginity. Anna is conflicted. Can she tell Frankie about Matt without breaking her promise to him? Does she risk getting involved with a new boy, Sam, or will that make her lose Matt all over again? Sex is regularly discussed, but never in explicit detail. The characters are richly developed; as the girls sneak out and meet boys, the differences in their personalities come through, and Frankie's parents' actions and reactions to their loss are well depicted. In the end, the lies that Anna and Frankie have told one another lead to an explosive confrontation. Often funny, this is a thoughtful, multilayered story about friendship, loss, and moving on.--Traci Glass, Eugene Public Library, OR[Page 133]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.