Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Don’t let the title of this book give you the wrong impression–it’s definitely not about “girls gone wild” over summer break! It IS an amazing story of one summer in the life of Anna, when she goes to California on vacation with her best friend Francesca, or Frankie as everyone calls her. But, of course, it not as simple as it sounds. Frankie’s brother Matt, who was actually the girls’ other best friend, died suddenly a year earlier from a heart abnormality. And Frankie can’t get past her grief. As hard as this sounds, Anna is having an even worse time of it, because she and Matt had realized they were in love about a month before he died. They had been having a secret romance since he wanted to tell Frankie and his family about it when they had more time together over the summer vacation. So Anna’s sadness is so much deeper than anyone knows, but she had promised Matt she would “keep their secret.” Consequently, she can’t really grieve as much as she needs to, and spends her time supporting Frankie instead of dealing with her own pain.
Add to all of this the the fact that Frankie seems to have completely changed her personality in response to her grief–it now takes her hours to get her hair and make-up just right to leave the house, she goes to the weekend parties that kids all gossip about on Monday, and there was even an incident on the field with a soccer-playing exchange student that Frankie says made her into a “real woman!” So her plan for the three week beach vacations is for her and Anna to meet at least twenty boys , and relieve Anna of the burden of her virginity. You can only imagine that life rarely goes they way we plan it, but the girls have an amazing vacation anyway.
I adored this book! It dealt with so many issues in such an honest and heartfelt way: grief and loss, first love, friendship, virginity, and family. I heartily recommend to all teen readers, especially fans of Sarah Dessen, John Green, and Deb Caletti.