When the love of Anna’s life and recently acquired boyfriend dies tragically in a car accident, she isn’t sure how she’s supposed to go on with her life. The only problem is, she can’t really grieve the way she wants to because no one knows that they were an item, especially not her best friend who also happens to be his sister. Anna never told Frankie because he wanted to be the one that broke the news. Now he’s gone, she’s doing everything possible to protect their secret and respect his wishes.
Then Frankie’s parents invite Anna to come along on their annual family holiday to California in place of their beloved (and dead) son and brother. Not really wanting to let Frankie down, Anna accepts. But she’s nervous. Zanzibar Bay was Matt’s favorite place on earth. How will Anna cope being so close to something he loved so much, without him?
Then Frankie decides that this summer is going to be all about boys. A different boy each day, making it their twenty boy summer. For someone like Frankie, twenty boys in twenty days sounds fabulous, but for someone like Anna, there is only one boy. There has only ever been one boy, and the way she’s feeling right now, there won’t ever be another one, either. Being the good friend she is, though, Anna goes along with Frankie’s game, and she becomes very good at pretending she’s participating in Frankie’s little challenge, when really she’s just watching on.
But then they meet Sam and Jake and Anna realises that maybe she’d like to play the game after all. Not for twenty boys, because that’s totally uncharacteristic for a girl like her, but Sam is special enough that maybe she could play for one boy.
Things are running along smashingly until Frankie finds Anna’s journal, and all the letters she wrote to Matt, all the details of their private affair. And Frankie is livid. The girls have the showdown of their lives and they realise that the one thing they had in common might just be the very same thing that tears them apart.
I have to say, I really didn’t like Frankie. She’s shallow, ignorant, selfish and just plain annoying. I had real trouble understanding why someone like Anna – who is none of the aforementioned things – is friends with someone like Frankie. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Frankie isn’t a complex character, but I couldn’t bring myself to care about her enough to try and decode her mysteries. Anna, however, was a joy to get to know. I loved her flashbacks to her time with Matt and I could really feel her love and adoration for him. And when she met Sam, I really felt her conflict. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be scared of loving someone new for fear of forgetting the past, especially when the past is all you have left of someone.
Twenty Boy Summer is Sarah Ockler’s first novel and it has a very Sarah Dessen feel to it, which is a compliment of the highest kind. I can’t wait to see what she produces next.