Matt, his sister Frankie, and Anna have been best friends all of their lives. They live next door to each other in upstate New York and tell each other everything…well, almost. Anna has never admitted out loud that she is in love with Matt. On her fifteenth birthday, Anna discovers that Matt is in love with her as well and wants to begin a romantic relationship with her. The only problem is how to tell Frankie. Before this question can be answered, Matt dies and leaves a huge hole in all of their lives.
The year after Matt’s death has been fraught with grief—Frankie’s parents become absent from her life while coming to terms with the loss of their son, Frankie acts out in shocking ways in an attempt to get her parents attention, and Anna is trying to hold everyone together while silently suffering her own grief over the death of the boy who was but was not her boyfriend. In an attempt to get back to “normal”, Frankie’s parents plan a trip to their favorite family vacation spot on the West Coast and insist that Anna accompany them. Frankie comes up with the perfect plan to combat their grief—meet twenty new boys while vacationing in California. Anna reluctantly goes along with the plan while attempting to remain the voice of reason to her self-destructive friend. The plan to have the “Best Summer Ever” brings boys, lying, surfing, lying, parties, and more lying. Will the girls overcome their grief or destroy their friendship?
Twenty Boy Summer is so much deeper and thought provoking than its catchy and cute title lets on. I really enjoyed this book and found it an extremely realistic and heart felt story of families and grief. The reason I chose to read this book is much deeper than its title, as well. I chose it because Twenty Boy Summer has been challenged. An attempt to have the book removed from the curriculum and libraries in the Republic, Missouri school system happened in September 2010 NOT thirty years ago and reminds us that attempts at censorship are alive and well in modern society. Each year, the American Library Association celebrates Banned Books Week in an attempt to bring the topic of censorship and intellectual freedom to the forefront. So check out the Banned Book Lists compiled by ALA—you just might be surprised at some of the titles that have sparked controversy.
Review by Angela J.