20 Boy Summer
by Sarah Ockler
Little, Brown and Company, 2009
From the back cover: According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever 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 that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago. Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer. — Little, Brown and Company
20 Boy Summer has been on my pile all summer. I got in to it for about five chapters and then stopped. I didn’t stop because the writing was poor. On the contrary, the writing is excellent. So is the dialogue and the characterization. For those reasons I rated 20 Boy Summer a B. I would have rated it an A but for the message of the book. If this were an adult fiction I wouldn’t have had a problem. But, it’s recommended for 12 years of age and older. That’s where the problem lies for me.
As the synopsis says above, Anna is going on a 20 day summer vacation at the beach with her best friend Frankie. The real goal of the vacation, not mentioned in the synopsis, is to meet 20 boys so that somehow among all those boys Anna can lose her “albatross” – her virginity. Frankie said she lost hers a few months ago and they believe, at sixteen, it’s past time for Anna to lose hers too.
Somebody please tell me I am not off base here in finding this an unsuitable story line for 12 year olds. I know I’m sixty-something and I’m sure I’m considered old-fashioned but, has the world changed that much since I was a girl? At the heart of the matter is the fact that I’m the grandmother of two girls, one of whom is an advanced ten-year-old. Her mom and dad are very careful about what she reads but I’d hate for them, or any parent, to look at the back of the book and see the “Ages 12 and up” and let her have it.
On the other hand, this would be a good book for parents to read first, let their young teens read it and then have a discussion about the coming dating years, relationships, and so forth. Handled responsibly this would be a good resource.
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