20 Boy Summer – Sarah Ockler (pub. June 09)
This is an ARC I picked up at Monday’s Publisher’s Preview. I spent my morning there hearing about forthcoming children’s and YA titles. The previous one of these was a mix of adult, children’s, and YA, giving a pretty short shrift to the YA titles in the mix. This time, giving a full day to the younger stuff meant there were actually some books I wanted to pick up (last time everyone went crazy for that Dewey the library cat book that isn’t really my thing) but I still left after snagging lunch because the afternoon lineup didn’t look like anything I needed to see and my video game program beckoned.
So I hadn’t intended to pick up this book, but the Little, Brown and Co library rep is a wily, crafty saleswoman and she made me think I needed to read this book. It wasn’t everything she had me hoping it would be, but I did manage to finish it in just over a day even though I’ve been busy and don’t seem to have had many clear opportunities to read.
It’s the story of Anna and her best friendship with Frankie and Frankie’s older brother Matt. But just as Matt is about to go away to college, and after Anna’s been hiding her love for him for years, he kisses her and they start a whirlwind and secret romance. Matt wants to tell Frankie himself once they get to California for their annual vacation, but before he gets the chance, he dies! So Anna’s grief remains largely private and hidden while she tries to help Frankie and her parents cope. And now, a year later, the family wants to go back to California for the vacation that was interrupted the summer before with Anna in tow for the first time. While there, Frankie wants Anna to lose her virginity and forms a plan to meet 20 boys during their trip, hoping that one will be The One.
This book was pretty good while not being what I would generally read. But even though I enjoyed it and readers who think they might enjoy it, will, it isn’t worth stretching yourself for. But I believed the characters and how they acted and found their grief to be compelling but not exhausting (this isn’t a book to cry over). Though one thing that drove me crazy was the vocabulary in it. Anna has a big vocab and Frankie only thinks she does, constantly using big words incorrectly or making up words that rhyme with the real word. Also jarring are the SAT words sprinkled throughout the narrative.
And!, the cover isn’t as ugly as it looks in the picture, the colors are all off.