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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

on 25 September 2010
Anna and her next door neighbours, Frankie and her older brother Matt, have grown up together, always best friends, telling each other everything. Almost. Anna never told Frankie she had been in love with Matt since she was 10. Or that on her 15th birthday she finally got her wish and Matt kissed her. They spent a month together, hiding their relationship from Frankie. Then tragedy struck and Matt was gone. Anna has promised him she'd never tell their secret, now she has to take it to the grave, playing the supportive best friend to Frankie never telling her that she misses Matt just as much.

A year after his death the girls are off on vacation with Frankie's parents, and Frankie is determined they'll find a summer romance. If they can meet a boy a day, then it should be easy. Twenty days, twenty boys. Two girls grieving for the loss of the other part of their friendship. A friendship where once no secrets lived, now divided by something they can still barely believe happened.

I loved this book. It took just a couple of pages to have me hooked and if not for being ill and not able to read as much as normal, I'd have finished it easily in a day. Anna's narrative had me from the start, her easy voice drawing me in. The pain of Matt's death came across so sharply that despite being just pages in to it and knowing it would happen, I was tearing up. And tearing up many more times throughout the book as Anna tried to deal with the loss, the secret and moving on. Even though the book is written in first person from Anna's perspective, the pain coming across from her watching Frankie, and Frankie's parents, also deal with Matt's loss had me in tears as well. It was just so raw, it wasn't hard to imagine it being real.

It's a beautifully written story of two girls dealing with their grief and the different ways it can affect people. It broke me apart so many times while I was reading it, but it pulled me back together by the end as they learnt to deal and to move on. There was some summer romance involved which was soft, sweet and awkward in the right places. But it wasn't really the focus at any point, it was just another aspect of Anna dealing with her grief for Matt, her first love and her best-friend-thats-a-boy. It was pretty perfectly done actually, all of the book. The grief, the lies, the anger and the truth. It showcased the various reactions and issues that come up when dealing with the loss of a loved one, and the journey of learning to deal with it.

It was so hard to put the book down, even though I was pretty ill while reading it. It was just gripping in its beautiful, raw realness. It was a painful journey as both girls grew and changed on their journey and it came to what felt like a very natural, believable, satisfying conclusion. I would highly recommend it!!
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on 10 April 2012
Twenty Boy Summer is a heart breaking book that will show you what it's really like to love and lose someone. An emotional book that you won't forget. Sarah Ockler has written a hard-hitting book that will make you realise that nothing lasts forever.

Anna has been in love with her best friend's brother, Matt, since she was six. And on Anna's birthday, when Matt finally kisses her, she thinks life couldn't get any better. Anna and Matt keep their relationship hidden because they know that if they tell Frankie, Anna's best friend and Matt's sister, nothing will be the same. Until the accident happens. A tragic car crash that ended Matt's life. Leaving Anna and Frankie in tatters. Anna swore to Matt that she wouldn't tell Frankie about their relationship. But when Frankie invites her on a holiday to Zanzibar Bay, Anna can't resist. And soon new relationships are made and secrets are uncovered.

Twenty Boy Summer is a book that I couldn't put down or stop looking at for more that five seconds. The characters are both unique and exciting. As for the plot, I loved it. I loved Anna's adventure in Zanzibar Bay and the strength it took for her to get over Matt's death and begin to love another. Anna is a strong character who I truly admire. Not many people can get over a death of a loved one, so for Anna to attempt to put such a horrific accident behind her was amazing.

Sarah Ockler will take you on an incredible journey, full of emotion and romance. You will cry, you will laugh, you will smile and you will grieve, but the pure enjoyment that this book will give you is unexplainable.

Overall, Twenty Boy Summer is a great contemporary novel that young-adult lovers will devour!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 June 2009
It has been a year since the tragic death of Matt, Frankie's brother and Anna's best friend. Everyone is still mourning.

Frankie's parents think they are ready to go to their annual vacation spot in Zanzibar Bay, California. And this summer they are bringing Anna along with them.

Here comes the Absolute Best Summer Ever, code name A.B.S.E., for Anna and Frankie. Frankie has come up with the plan for she and Anna to meet twenty boys while in California, for the "perfect" summer romance.

Little does Frankie know, Anna has already had her perfect summer romance. It was last summer, with Matt. Before Frankie knew about it, Matt had died. He was to tell her on their vacation, and Anna had promised not to say anything.

And she has still kept that promise.

This story was amazing. It was so hard to put it down. It is a perfect read to start off the summer. I really enjoyed Anna's character, and by the end of the novel, you could really tell how much she changed. Frankie seemed so different from Anna; it was hard to picture these two completely different girls being best friends.

Overall, TWENTY BOY SUMMER was totally amazing, and a great start to my summer reading. I recommend it to all!

Reviewed by: Ashley B
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on 1 November 2014
4.5 stars!

Beautifully written and immensely emotional, Twenty Boy Summer is a story that will tug on your heart and not let you got until the last page!

Anna has been best friends with siblings Matt and Frankie her whole life, so when Anna develops a crush on Matt she doesn’t dare do anything about it nor does she share her feeling with Frankie. When she finally gets Matts attention, they’re both swept up into a whirlwind romance but Matt makes Anna promise that he will tell Frankie the news at the right time. The problem is, Matt dies before he can do that and Anna is determined to always keep her promise to Matt. As a way to try and move on, Anna is invited on a summer holiday with Frankie and her parents and Frankie has some crazy ideas on how to spend the summer including meeting a boy every day – twenty in total, but how can Anna even think of moving on when all she can think of is the one boy she’s lost……

After reading Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler I just knew I wanted to try something by her and I’m glad I decided with Twenty Boy Summer because it was just as good as Bittersweet with a more emotional touch to it – which I loved.

The start of the story is utterly heart-breaking because we’re quickly showed how Anna and Matt’s romance starts, making you totally fall in love with Matt but also not forgetting you already know he’s going to die. HEART-BREAKING! I loved Matt. I wanted more Matt. I didn’t want him to die. But I completely see why it happened – for the story!

I really like Anna as a character. She was well developed and her story was tough. She has so many highs and lows and her emotions are all over the place but she hides them well. It’s only on her own when she can truly be honest with herself while writing in her diary. I really felt her pain and her loss of losing Matt. I can’t really same the same for Frankie, I wasn’t a huge fan of her but could understand her pain was different from Anna’s. As time passes though, Anna slowly learns to deal and throughout the story we see her journey of re-discovering herself and her wants for the future. A lot of that came from Sam – her summer romance and he definitely gave her the push she needed to enjoy life again. I wish there was a better ending for Anna and Sam though – even though it was true and real to the story – but just saying I wanted that little bit more!

In all, Twenty Boy Summer is another great read by YA author Sarah Ockler and you can bet I’m going to read more by her!
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on 19 February 2013
I've had Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler on my shelves unread for years. That's right, years. I'd heard such good things about it, which is why I bought it, but I put off reading it for so long and now that I have read it, I cannot remember a single reason for the delay.

I knew the rough storyline of the book beforehand - two best friends, Anna and Frankie, are on holiday in California one summer and make this plan to meet a boy a day and have this beautiful summer romance. Except there's something Anna has never told Frankie - that she has had a summer romance, the previous summer with Frankie's brother and Anna's other best friend, Matt. Matt wanted to be the one to tell Frankie, only before he could do so, Matt died.

Now it's a year later and everything has changed. Frankie and Anna are still friends, of course, but Frankie is dealing with the death of her brother and the ways in which her parents are not dealing. She's changed for a shy, nice girl into someone who goes after what she wants and is interested in boys and her appearance more. And Anna is quietly suffering the loss of her best friend and the boy she'd been in love with ever since she could remember. It's hard keeping such a huge thing secret from Frankie, but she feels as though it was something that Matt would have wanted her to do.

I think when I originally heard about Twenty Boy Summer, I really just thought it would be this cute, light-hearted contemporary romance without much depth to it. And then with the element of loss that plays into the story right from the beginning, I began to worry that this book would feel heavy and weighed down with the death of Matt. But wonderfully, Twenty Boy Summer fits nicely between the two. Yes, there is a very cute summery romance that happens, but alongside that are two best friends grieving and coming to terms and moving on with Matt's absence as well as managing their friendship and how they've let Matt's death change them over the past year.

The thing with Twenty Boy Summer is that I kind of built up in my head what it would be like when Frankie finally learns about Anna and Matt. It's this huge betrayal and you wonder how two people can be best friends and still keep this massive secret from each other. So in my head, this confrontation is explosive and earth-shattering and there is a bit of that in this book, but it's still a lot more gentle than I was imagining. I think a lot of the emotion of the story I felt more in the first half of the book than I did in the second half, which is surprising and a teensy bit disappointing.

Still, I'm really glad that I finally read Sarah Ockler's debut book! I have others by her on my shelf and I am very much looking forward to the stories that she will tell.
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VINE VOICEon 7 May 2010
hearted girl, the type of friend everyone wishes they had. She falls in love with her best friends brother, Matt, the three of them have been friends all of their lives, neighbours and practically inseparable. On her birthday all her dreams come true when Matt kisses her. They meet in secret afraid of Frankie's reaction to the development of their relationship. Before they are able to tell Frankie, Matt tragically dies from an undetected heart defect, Anna is left to hold the pieces together and unable to tell Frankie that she was in love with her brother.

The story unfolds directly into the action with some points of reminiscing by Anna to give the background details to the plot. In some respects Anna seems far more mature than her age would give her credit for. Anna takes on the role of holding people together has to hide the depth of her own loss. The emotions within the narrative were poignant and tangible. However, I did find myself comparing the story to The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson which also deals with loss, grief and first love. The main difference between the two books was the way in which people grieve was depicted. A good point to compare and contrast.

The one thing I can honestly say I preferred in The Sky is Everywhere is how the issue of losing your virginity was dealt with, with emotion and the whole ideal of making it special. While in Twenty Boy Summer it is treated as an affliction to be cast off as soon as possible. I did sympathise with Anna as in her mind Matt was the one and that was taken away from her, anyone else would always be second best. The whole idea that she was afraid to move on as if it would be an act of betrayal to Matt was touching. The story was an emotional journey of self-discovery for Anna.

The thing I liked most about Twenty Boy Summer was the way in which each persons grief was depicted. For Frankie she acts out, pretends to be a completely different person to the one she was when her brother was alive. She doesn't take anyone else's feelings into consideration and that annoyed me at times. For Matt & Frankie's parents, they shut themselves off completely, not talking about Matt or even allowing anyone into his room. They are so wrapped up in their own grief that they hand responsibility of Frankie over to Anna, who is obviously far too young to be put in that position. While Anna is hiding the depth of her emotions.

The descriptions and imagery are fantastically sensory, you really feel as if you are on the beach with the waves lapping and the sand between your toes. The beach has always been one of my favourite places and never fails to make me feel at peace. So this aspect of the narrative really brought it to life for me.

All aspects of the plot tie together beautifully in the end, offering a bitter-sweet resolution. A great book giving a different view of grief and loss. You may need tissues for this one as-well.
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VINE VOICEon 15 December 2009
I loved this. It is beautifully written - the writing just flows and I found myself so absorbed I completely forgot I was reading. All the characters were three dimensional - including Matt who the author fleshed out enough for the reader to believe in the grief the characters felt. I really liked Anna and she had a great voice - very witty at times but you could feel her grief throughout the book. Frankie was suitably complex and I got a hint of how she used to be and understood why she acted the way she did - I can't say I always liked her though.

The way everyone grieved felt authentic - the effect on Frankie, her parents and Anna - all of it felt very real. The ending also felt natural and believable, managing to end the story in a satisfying way.

Overall I really enjoyed this - so much I found myself savouring it and not wanting it to end. In fact, I think I could have read another 300 pages of her writing and not tired of it. Strongly recommended and I can't wait for her next book!
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on 24 July 2011
This book tackles first love from a very different angle to your normal teenage romance novel. Following the story of Anna who is trying to understand how you let go and move on from you're first love who was tragically and unexpectedly taken away from you.

A very well written book, which tackles a very sensitive subject whilst still being injected with the right amount of humour. Do not miss out...
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on 17 February 2011
This book is incredibly well written and suitable for any teen girl 13+ who is a confident reader. It is very emotional and made me cry at least once whilst reading it - without spoiling the storyline i can say losing their brother/best friend changes the girls considerably and they never get properly over it. recommended !
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on 10 October 2011
I don't really read books like this as they aren't really around my age group or the kind of thing I would normally read but this book made me (and my 26 year old sister) cry. It was such a lovely book and so sad at the same time. Definitely worth reading
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