Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

"Don''t worry, Anna. I''ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it." "Okay." "Promise me? Promise you won''t say anything?" "Don''t worry." I laughed. "It''s our secret, right?" According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in ZanzibarBay 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.

I had read and heard a lot about this book for quite sometime, and by the time I got my hands on a copy I had such high expectations that I was almost certain I could only be disappointed. I wasn't. Rather, Twenty Boy Summer was even lovlier than I had anticipated.

Sarah Ockler has a written a novel that is touching and emotionally honest. She weaves a heartbreaking tale of tragic first love, and what it means to have that ripped away from you. The books gives the reader a glance into how one begins to move through the days after such an incident, and how you can possibly begin to live your life again.

Ockler does an incredible job at pulling the reader deeply into the Anna's story. I found myself feeling what she was feeling. Although I only had a brief introduction to Matt, I missed him. I felt his loss deeply and found myself torn later in the novel when my thoughts kept returning to him as Anna attempted to move on.

While Twenty Boy Summer is a deeply emotional tale, the author uses humor throughout to keep it from getting too dark or depressing. Namely, the interaction between best friends Anna and Frankie made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion and were some of my favorite scenes.

Twenty Boy Summer is a must read that is perfect for summer, but highly enjoyable any time of year. Definitely on my list of favorites!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make--and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

'If I Stay' was breathtaking. A fresh and unique story that was very different from anything I've read in a long time. What amazed me most was how Forman was able to convey so much with so few words. The novel is very slim, but the story told within its' pages is anything but.

We follow the journey of Mia as she is critically injured in a car crash which takes the lives of her immediate family. After the accident she finds herself looking down at her body in the ICU, hanging onto life. Through a series of visits from family and friends, as well as flashbacks from her life before the accident, we reflect on Mia's life as she tries to figure out what she is supposed to do.

As the reader is introduced to Mia's loved ones, I found myself becoming as attached to them as Mia was. The book was emotionally raw, holding nothing back and allowing the reader to feel every loss and connection that Mia experienced as she moved toward her ultimate decision: to stay or let go.

This novel was powerful and gripping. I couldn't put it down, and came away from it with the feeling that I had not only read a great book, but had an experience that I wouldn't soon forget.