By: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: June 1st 2009 by Little Brown & Co
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age
First Line: Frankie Perino and I were lucky that day. Lucky to be alive - that’s what everyone said.
I am notorious for not reading the synopsis before I open a book (ask Jen), this time I pulled it up on my nook. However, I must admit I am extremely happy that I did not. The shock, happiness, and sadness that wrapped around me was purely from the words on the paper in front of me. Ockler also had me recommending this book to others by page 11. Yes, I really did!
~Warning~ if you are expecting this book to be a fluffy fun beach read you need to stop! Read the synopsis or take my advice. This book mainly deals with grief. Don't get me wrong. There are a few wonderful beachy romance scenes that made me crave the smell of salt water and the feel of hot sand under my toes.
The story of secrets started off with a cute adorable cake fight between Anna and her neighbor Matt. They were washing Anna's 15th birthday cake frosting off themselves, Matt kissed Anna. Lets toss in a twist, Matt happens to be the brother of Frankie, Anna's best friend. They have been neighbors for years, the three of them formed a tight bond. Sort of a three musketeers thing.
BAM! Now things are different. Cute perfection does not last long. This book is surrounded by the loss of Matt. He died of a broken heart, a hole that no one knew about until it was too late. Frankie and her family are dealing with this loss. Anna is dealing with her grief on her own, she promised Matt that she would not tell his sister. However, Matt never had the chance to tell his sister before he died.
It is a year later and the loss is still heavy around everyone. Due to the fact that they are all trying to move on, Frankie's parents decided to invite Anna on their yearly vacation to Cali. Frankie comes up with a brilliant plan. After all, Anna needs to loose her virginity, AKA the albatross. Twenty boys in one summer and she is bound to find the right guy. This will be the BEST summer ever!
Throughout the summer in Cali the girls film their vacation, sneak out of the beach house, and of course, one of them gets a huge sun burn. Naturally, there were boys. Boys, Boys, and more Boys. Their friendship is tested, along with the anxiety of being at the beach house for the first time without Matt. Anna is afraid of erasing all of her memories of Matt. Will she let loose and enjoy the Twenty Boys Summer?
The book is deep and tender as Ockler touches the taboo subject of death and loss. I loved this debut novel and I cannot wait to read more from her!
"As I lick a runaway line of meting cherry chocolate ripple from my hand, I become hyperaware of our surroundings. The back-and-forth ancient lull of the tide. The cry of seagulls passing overhead. The smell of salt and fish carried on the warm breeze. With each step along the old wooden planks of the pier, tiny grains of sand that hitchhiked from the beach below are pulverized under our heels. Sand that traveled a millions of miles over billions of years across shifting continents and churning oceans, surviving plate tectonics, erosion, and sedimentary deposition is crushed by our new sandals. The cosmos can be so cruel."
"He's probably wondering why the women in this family are so certifiably nuts."
"'Hungry?' I ask. 'We could make chocolate chip pancakes'. It's not psychotherapy, but chocolate chip pancakes work for a lot of things."