In her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott says, “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

My hope is that this is what books become to you—as important as almost anything else on earth. This blog is about helping you find the miracle in these small, flat, rigid squares of paper while you are in middle school and beyond. Once you read alongside me, you are forever a member of my tribe of readers. No matter how you old you are, when you need to be reminded of the power of a good story, you will find me here, waiting to place one in your hands.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


copyright date: May 2010
primarily marketed for:  young adults (high school)

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler is one of those books I wish I would have had when I was in high school.  This is what I would’ve liked to have read then. 

I picked it up after reading a letter-essay about the book by one of Nancie Atwell’s students.  The excerpt she included showed the realism of the friendship between Anna and Frankie.  It was humorous and the dialogue felt like conversations I could’ve had with my high school best friend.

I had no idea how serious the book is, too.  Anna and Frankie have always been best friends.  They grew up together and were part of a trio of best friends that included Frankie’s brother Matt.  It was a relationship they all trusted and relied on.

That is, until Anna’s fifteenth birthday when everything changed.  That was the day Matt and Anna finally admitted to each other that they had stronger feelings for one another.  Anna promised to keep this news from Frankie until Matt could break it to her gently during the annual family vacation to California.  

In the meantime, the connection between Anna and Matt continued to grow in secret.  All the while, Anna couldn’t wait to include Frankie in her good news.  But when Matt suddenly dies, Anna’s promise to keep the news from Frankie turns into a much larger burden. 

Anna suffers the loss of her first love in silence, giving Frankie all the space she needs to mourn her brother’s death.  Frankie turns to rule breaking, excessive flirting and promiscuity to escape the pain.  

The unspoken strain on their friendship comes to a head when Anna is invited to join Frankie’s family on the annual California vacation.  Frankie is determined to push Anna into joining her quest to escape the pain through boys.  She creates a challenge to meet twenty boys in twenty days.  Anna tries to play along, but things don’t unfold as planned and their lifelong friendship is ultimately put to the test. 

Twenty Boy Summer is a book about romance, friendship, loss, coping, moving on, and growing up.  It is grounded in a beautiful California beach house setting, complete with sea glass, surfing, and sandy beaches.  A perfect summer read.

Reading Threads:

1 comment:

  1. How much tragedy young people can take is anyone's guess, & how they handle it is sometimes tragic as well. This sounds good, Christy. A good friend's son just died at the age of 46. He had a 15 year old daughter. I was thinking of her today as I read your review, and hope she is able to weather her grief. 15 is a tough age anytime, & to lose someone makes it even harder. Thanks for sharing about the book.