Purple Prose + YA novel review

Spreading the Awesome (book review & contest)

As promised, today is SPREADING THE AWESOME. Over 60 writers are reviewing books they love so much, they gave them a 10 star rating. So here’s my review for the YA contemporary novel, Twenty Boy Summer, by debut author Sarah Ockler.

Book blurb: 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 light-heartedly 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.

First line: Frankie Perino and I were lucky that day.

Anna had been in love with Matt since she was ten and he was twelve, though no one knew that, including her best friend, Frankie. But on Anna’s fifteenth birthday, her birthday wish finally came true, and Matt moved from being her best-friend-that’s-a-boy to something more special. Because he wasn’t sure how his sister, Frankie, would take the news. He asked Anna not to say anything. He would tell Frankie during the annual family trip to Zanzibar Bay, the following month. But he never had the chance. He died in a car accident.

Anna is left grieving, and unable to tell anyone the truth. Instead, she writes in her journal letters to Matt even though she knows he’ll never read them, and relieves the memories of the month before he died.

Twenty Boy Summer is a beautifully written story, which I had a hard time putting down. It’s a great example of how to write emotions that leave the reader feeling the joy and pain of the main character. How does Sarah do it? She frequently juxtaposes sadness against humor, a technique that works extremely well. When Anna blinks back the tears, so do I. The characterization is strong, and the ways the different characters deal with their grief is believable.

While there are places where you feel Anna’s pain, not to mention her frustration at keeping the secret from her best friend, it really isn’t a sad story. (Okay, I did go through a number of Kleenexes, but there was no major sobbing involved.) Anna wants to move on and help Frankie move on, too. And although she harbors a fear that she’ll forget Matt, something she never wants to do, a romance does develop between her a local boy. And yes, the romance is so worth it. I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to date Sam?

For those of you who aren’t into books loaded with diary entries, this book’s for you. We only see a few of the letters Anna writes to Matt. Most of the details about the month before he dies comes from Anna’s memories . . . including the delicious kiss. Trust me, it was really delicious. Blue-frosting delicious.

The paperback version came out this weekend. I have a copy for some lucky follower who lets me know in the comments that they want to win it. You get an extra entry if you tweet about the contest (please include your Twitter @). You have until Thursday May 6th at 11:59 pm EST. I'll announce the winner during this week's Cool Links Friday.

The next stop on the SPREADING THE AWESOME tour is Janna Qualman’s blog. Check out her review for Second Honeymoon (adult) by Joanna Trollope. For you YA lovers, there’re still plenty more novels being reviewed today. And more chances to win great books.
I’m off now to check out some more reviews. *winks*

best, book, contest, MOON, Novel, Spreading the Awesome, tour, weekend, and more:

Spreading the Awesome (book review & contest) + YA novel review