Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Banned Book Week - Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Genre: YA Contemporary
Copyright: June 2009
Pages: 290
Book Source: From Jenny @ Jenny Loves to Read

Synopsis: “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. www.sarahockler.com

I'm thrilled to be part of Sheila's Banned Book Week Promotions. Please check out my review of Twenty Boy Summer, comment, pick up the clue and visit Book Journey for related posts and the awesome giveaway ending on Saturday.

Twenty Boy Summer is a beautifully written debut novel with a lot more to the story than the promiscuous *wink wink* fun title suggests, it's a moving tale of love and loss, of friendship and forgiveness.

Anna & Frankie & Frankie's brother Matt have been neighbours and friends for as long as they can all remember. Anna has been in love with Matt for almost as long and all her dreams come true on her 15th birthday when her feelings are reciprocated. Matt's sudden death before he tells his sister about their relationship leaves Anna holding their secret with an empty space in her heart. One year on, the novel focuses on Anna & Frankie's friendship, the highs, the lows and their plan to have the Absolute Best Summer Ever (ABSE.)

While my teen years are long gone and my own memories are of far less permissive and relaxed parents, I found Anna & Frankie entirely relatable. My teenage sons are a constant reminder of all that is REAL and believable in this story; the excuses, sneaking out, parties, under-age drinking, and the sarcasm and humour characteristic of teen years certainly gave me a few laughs but what I found most moving was the ease with which Ockler captures so many unspoken aspects of grief.

When someone you love dies, people ask how you're doing, but they don't really want to know. They seek affirmation that you're ok, 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 that you never will. (page 73)

Once Frankie's asleep, my best friend superstrength disappears. My breathing shatters, tears blur the stars in the overhead skylight, and all the old ghosts I tried to leave home float like dandelion seed wishes into our room. (page 85)

This was an emotional story about friendship and the journey over, around & through grief, knowing when to hold on tight and when to let go, creating new memories while not being afraid to remember and treasure old ones and while my eyes brimmed with tears a few times and there were quite a few tugs on the heartstrings, the ABSE storyline kept it far from depressing. Sarah Ockler writes from the heart, this is as REAL as it gets.

In July 2011 Twenty Boy Summer and Slaughterhouse-Five were banned from Republic, Missouri school district libraries. See this article for details and Sarah Okler's response (High-five Sarah, I couldn't agree more.) In September the two banned books were returned to libraries but remain restricted from student access.

"Books that fail to meet the age-appropriate threshold for language, violence, sexuality and drugs, alcohol and tobacco -- including the two in question -- would be available at school but housed in a secured section of the library. But, they could only be checked out by a parent or guardian."

Good grief, what century are we living in?? I consider it a terrible loss to have books banned to so many, through the narrow minded views and actions of a few. There are many "banned" books I’m a richer person for reading; I've been touched by, learnt from, identified with, been empowered and enlightened by many of these reads and I think we all deserve the right to choose whether we read or don't read a particular book. I'm not saying parents shouldn't monitor or discuss their childrens' reading choices but when 'educated' people cloak their motivation for banning a book in "age suitability" rather than dislike of content or disapproval of differing viewpoints then many lose their right to choose.

OK mini rant over! Here's today's clue :)


  1. This book sounds great and I did have a copy of it at one time. I think I gave it to a teen reader at my school! Excellent review!

  2. Nice job! I remember page 73 when I read this too... it still makes me tear up... you can not put a date on grief.

    Love your clue finder dude too! Thanks for being a part of Banned Books Week!

  3. Thanks for your marvelous review and thoughts on this one, which sounds like a must-read, even for "old folks" like me...LOL

    Let's hear it for Banned Books Week!

  4. It does sound like a must read, regardless of your age (*cough, cough*, 49 here!)!

  5. I completely agree with your thoughts on banning books. It's ridiculous for the views of the few to affect what the rest of us read.

  6. I read this book last year and thought it was amazing, and probably one of my favorite books for 2010. Thanks so much for the great review and I agree with your thoughts on banning. It really is a ridiculous practice!!

  7. That was a wonderful review and really powerful quotes. I will definitely move this up the TBR list! Thanks!

  8. Isn't it a shame that a book that could help a teen get through some of the experiences talked about in the book - grief, sex, situations with drugs and alcohol - are forbidden from reading about a character doing the same because of some overblown fears?

    Nice blog, I've seen this one in my library but have never picked it up.

  9. I have no problem with parents monitoring what their kids read and this book is a great example of the subject matter creating an opportunity to talk about issues that are happening in their lives. Real life happens, and banning books is not going to make real life stop. Great review BTW.

  10. This is the first review of this book that has made me want to read it.

  11. BRAVO!!!! Thank you for your wise words my friend.

  12. That quote about the expiry date - that is so moving :(

    And I am sad this wonderful book is banned, sounds so good. Great review.

  13. Great review! I have never read this but it sounds so well written that I am going to have to make sure to add it to my list.

  14. I bought both Twenty Boy Summer and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson last year to show support but I haven't yet read any of the books.

    I should get to it! And I hear ya' I should read TBS and soon.

    Banning of books is just plain stupid if you ask me..

  15. OK, I'm putting Twenty Boy Summer on my TBR list. Thanks for the review!

  16. Wow. Amazing that people are still trying to ban books today. I'd like to think that was something from the ignorant past. But it does put the spotlight on these books, and they probably end up with more readership because of it.

    Great review!

  17. This is one I've been wanting to read. I agree with Chris, kids would want to read it more if they knew it was a banned book.

  18. Great review my friend, and so glad you liked it. Not surprised this was banned.
    I would like to know who the people on this banned books committee are and how they grew up. I'm sure they were squeaky clean growing up. Banned books make people think and the powers that be don't like it when people think. Heaven forbid!


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