Publisher: Little, Brown
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Summary (from the author's website):
“Don’t worry, Anna. I’ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it.”
“Promise me? Promise you won’t say anything?”
“Don’t worry.” I laughed. “It’s our secret, right?”
According to Anna’s best friend Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.
TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.
Ok, before I start, I'd like to share a quote:
"When someone you love dies, people ask you how you're doing, but they don't really want to know. They seek affirmation that you're okay, that you appreciate their concern, that life goes on and so can they. Secretly they wonder when the statute of limitations on asking expires (it's three months, by the way. Written or unwritten, that's about all the time it takes for people to forget the one thing you never will).
They don't want to know that you'll never again eat birthday cake because you don't want to erase the magical taste of frosting on his lips. That you wake up every day wondering why you got to live and he didn't."
My Summary: Anna and her neighbours Frankie and Matt have always been inseparable. Frankie and Matt are brother and sister, and Anna has grown up right along-side them since she was born. The three of them are best friends, sharing everything.
But Anna has always harboured a secret crush on Matt, and vice versa. She buries her feelings, though, knowing there would be no going back once she crossed that line.
She believes Matt to be completely oblivious to her feelings until the night of her 15th birthday, when he surprises her with a kiss and a confession of sorts. They begin to see each other in secret, not wanting to hurt Frankie.
But Anna doesn't want to keep anything from her best friend, and Matt agrees that they need to tell her. He decides he's going to tell her in a month - when they leave for their annual family trip to California. He knows it'll be easier to take coming from her brother, and he wants to give Frankie time to adjust to the idea before returning; Matt makes Anna promise not to breathe a word to Frankie about their relationship. She agrees, knowing he's looking out for his little sister like he's always done.
But the night before the trip, on a routine ice-cream run, tragedy strikes, leaving Frankie and Anna without their best friend, brother, and confidant. He's gone - taking his and Anna's secret with him.
More than a year later, Anna agrees to go to California with Frankie and her parents - to the same place where they were headed the year before, before the accident. Frankie has changed so much since the accident, and Anna's hoping that being in the place that Matt loved will help her best friend.
But things start to change, and Frankie makes Anna agree to a contest of sorts - 20 boys in 20 days, a chance to have a bona-fide summer fling. But Anna is still holding on to Matt, unable to let go of what could have been.
My Thoughts: The first time I heard about Twenty Boy Summer, I hardly even registered the title. Why? Because I tend to shy away from Chick-lit, and anything with the word 'summer' in the title usually falls into that category (common, you know it's true). But then I realized I'd heard the name before - it was one of the books on my "Banned Books" list. And then a bunch of you guys (my goodreads friends) began reviewing and telling everyone how wonderful it was, and I figured it was about time I checked it out.
So I bought the book, Wesley Scroggin's words replaying on loop inside my head. He'd called Twenty Boy Summer filth (among other things) - something that condoned promiscuity and partying. I was a little bit embarrassed, wondering if the employees at my local bookstore judged me based on my choice of books (you know you do it too!), but the cashier just smiled at me, told me TBS was one of her all-time faves and that I should probably keep a box of tissues handy.
So I went home and started to read, and within 80 pages, I was tearing up. By the middle of the book, I'd cried at least three times, but I didn't let myself stop. I Just kept reading. My heart was breaking along with Anna's the entire time - I felt so in-tune with her that every time she mentioned Matt, I felt that little ache of loss in my heart - it was like I'd lost my own "Matt", and we were sharing the journey together.
What else can I say, guys? This book was amazing, heartbreaking, and so much more. The fact that it was on the list of banned books shocks me - there's no graphic descriptions of sexual encounters here, and the girls are not promiscuous in the least. It doesn't promote partying or alcohol or giving it up to anyone who asks - quite the opposite, actually. So why did Wesley Scroggins want it banned? I can only wager that he's a bitter old man who can't see the true worth of good literature. Speaking as someone who has read Speak as well, I can pretty much guarantee that everything he has or will say about it is a lie - there's no soft-core porn to be found in that novel; just a girl who's trying to make sense of what has happened to her.
But I'm getting side-tracked, aren't I?
Final Thoughts: This is going to be one of those books I recommend to everyone, no matter their age or reading preference. Like I said to my friend the other day, "It's one of those books that you need to read to be a better person" - which is not to say that you're a bad person if you don't, only that I believe it'll change your outlook on a lot of things. And yes, there is a sex scene (more of a sex-sentence, actually) , but it is in no way graphic or descriptive or ANYTHING. To be honest with you, it's probably the most non-descriptive sex "scene" I've ever read in the YA genre. But if that is worrying to the moms out there reading this, I recommend you read the book first - just to make sure it's okay for your teen. Read it, and feel Anna's loss, and then have your heart broken - I promise it'll be healed by the end. And then, when you're done, pass it on.
Remember to keep a box of tissues handy! :)
And let me know in the comments what you thought of the book (if you've read it) or your thoughts on this whole "Book-Banning" debacle.