Review of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Book Title/Author: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Publisher/Year: : Little Brown Books For Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Series: No – standalone!
Other Books From AuthorFixing Delilah, Bittersweet & out in May 2013 — The Book of Broken Hearts

Amazon| Goodreads | Sarah Ockler’s Website

Every girl dreams of their first real romance. When Anna finally experiences this she is dying to tell her best friend Frankie. Only problem is that her new boyfriend is Frankie’s brother. A tragedy occurs before Anna and Matt can tell Frankie the truth and Anna keeps the truth hidden from everyone — especially Frankie. A year later, Anna is still holding on to her lost romance with Matt and Frankie decides that Anna is in need of a summer romance. Whilst on their summer vacation together at Zanzibar Bay, Frankie plots that for every day they are there (20) they will have a competition to see who can snag a new guy each day. Under the weight of her secret, Anna halfheartedly agrees to go along with the plan though conflicted with being true to her love for Matt.

I got interested in this book back when the whole Scroggins-was-a-douche-and-tried-to-ban-this-book-without-reading it drama llama happened. I procured a copy and so it has sat on my shelf like a lot of other books I really want to read. So this summer, as part of  my Read Backlisted Books Plan, I decided to read it. So take that Scroggins, your stupid little tirade made a lot more people interested in this book. SUCKER.

Seeing as though it was part of a banning debacle, I kept WAITING for something “bad”  or “edgy”. I was waiting. And I just didn’t really understand why this was being challenged at all. Ok, so teens drink sometimes (a pretty minimal part in this book)?? Shocking. And they sometimes have sex (SAFE SEX with a condom in this novel) and think they want to lose their V card? Really? And this is different from what teens are experiencing for real in their high schools? Different from things they are seeing on tv and the movies?  I don’t know. I’m not seeing why it’s so dirty and filthy.

I thought Twenty Boy Summer was so powerful — no light, fluffy beach reading here. That grief just gnaws at your heart throughout the book — just as you see it doing to Anna (and Frankie too obviously). The general grief and pain, Anna’s secret, the what could have beens, etc. just are written in such a way that you can’t help but feel an immense amount of sorrow. I felt the complete and utter devastation of love lost. You can feel Matt’s presence in her heart. Sarah Ockler doesn’t lose him in the novel. He’s not easily forgotten. I felt it to be very realistic portrayal of grieving and coping and trying to put back those pieces. This book was one of those where I could feel my eyes and nose starting to sting because the tears were a comin’ and I was trying to hold them back so much. It annihilated my heart. More quietly and over time than say If I Stay where I was in full out SOBBING mode. But still. Shredded. Minced. Diced. What have you. Sarah Ockler didn’t hold back on my heart. I’ll say I felt hopeful and a little bit of peace at the end but there is no reversal to this type of slaying. Certain books leave their mark like that on me.

Sarah Ockler’s writing was just perfect for me — right from the beginning as she hooked me with such a sweet, playful & innocent romance. My heart. She also nailed the setting for me. I had to look down at my pasty white skin to remind myself I was not actually enjoying their summer fun on the beach. I really connected with Anna right away and I could tell that behind the messy exterior of Frankie there was a really great character that I’d grow to love. You could just tell. She grieved her brother like my sister grieved my mom. A little more attention seeking and rebellious…and attention turned to boys. I also thought some of Frankie’s family interactions were written were just brilliant to be honest; though I was quite disappointed that they seemed SUPER oblivious to what was going on all summer. Grief is just this big ol’ elephant in the room and sometimes it decides to show itself in the strangest of ways, places and times. I could relate to it.  And the way the secret came out – HEARTWRENCHING.


Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler is just one of those books that you easily get sucked into (the pain evoked experiencing a sweet love lost, the jump-off-the-pages variety of characters, the gorgeous setting, etc.) and find yourself come tumbling out of the pages hours later; bruised, tattered & with a heavy sense of something in your heart. Sarah doesn’t totally pulverize your heart as you see the beauty of friendship & family, hope,  and a new found appreciation for every day. It’s a good mix of heavy & uplifting. I do not understand AT ALL why this book was challenged. I expected something way more scandalous and promiscuous based on the title and then on the whole Wesley Scroggins thing. I will say that I’d be more likely to hand this to older teens as there is a little bit of drinking and sexual situations involved.


Young Adult Contemporary Novel Twenty Boy Summer


Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, books from Jennifer Echols, Moonglass & In Honor by Jessi Kirby, books from Sarah Dessen


Did any of you read this book? Did you agree with Scroggins assessment of it? Tell me what you thought!

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Isn’t this book fabulous?! I have no idea why it was part of that debacle, but I’m so glad it put it on more people’s radars in a positive way.

    • SO fabulous! In like an understated way almost. I really didn’t understand why it was either..I seriously kept reading and waiting for the scandalous, awful things to take place. It’s sad because I can’t imagine how many people were turned off to this book because of what Scroggins said..especially with how promiscuous the titles sounds. I wonder how many parents dismissed it and didn’t let their kids read it based on this guys thoughts. I just hope the Speak Loudly posts did get more people to read it!

  2. I love how the emotions appear to have pulled at your heartstrings SO INTENSELY with this book. It’s always wonderful to read books that do that to the reader, and I definitely look forward to reading this soon!

    (P.S. Welcome back to blogging <3)

    • It was such an emotional experience but not in the way I bawled with If I Stay. This was more understated or something yet the heartwrenching-ness (bahah who says that) of it all is so INTENSE when you think about it and let it ruminate. Can’t wait to hear what you think!

      And thanks..I’m happy to be back! 🙂

  3. Scroggins FAIL! I still need to read this one myself.

    • I can’t wait to see what you think, Liz! It took me forever to get to it. I was all caught up in the drama when I bought it but then I just got distracted by other shiny I’m sure many other people did!

  4. I bought the book because of the whole Ban non-sense as well, but have yet to read it!! Your review has pushed it up to be my next read!

    Happy Reading!

  5. Definitely a book I’ve been meaning to read. I recall that whole debacle of the teacher wanting it removed, how silly.

  6. This sounds like a great read and more importantly, something that teens could relate to. One of those SUPER IMPORTANT I’m not alone books. I am going to have to read this one.

  7. Jamie OH MY GOSH.

    I’ve never wanted to read this as much as I want to read it now. I LOVE that it made you feel the way you did. You just kinda recommended this book to me, gal. Thank you!

  8. Wow, this book is totally not what I thought it was about. I admit it, I judged the book on it’s title and cover and never bothered to find out what the story actually was. I thought it was gonna be just another one of those light and fluffy contemp reads, which is fine when I’m in the right mood (I’m not very often… hehe), but this sounds fantastic, in a completely heartwrenching sort of way. Thank you for the review. Will be adding this to my TBR list. 🙂

  9. I also bought this way back when and still haven’t gotten around to reading it. Maybe it’s now time.

  10. This book was just fantastic, I am glad you liked it so much! That anyone would try to ban this book is just ridiculous. I think it can say so much to so many teens about love and loss and if I knew any teens, I would give them this as a gift!

  11. I read this one because of the attempted ban, too. I’m so glad I did because it made me really love YA, and now Sarah Ockler is one of my favorite authors. 🙂

    It’s been a few years since I read this one, so I’m definitely thinking that a re-read is in order because it’s starting to get fuzzy in my mind. I remember loving how mature this book felt, and I loved how emotional it was.


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