Thursday, June 04, 2009

BLOG TOUR: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Welcome to the next Traveling to Teens book blog tour! Created by the lovely Yan and lovely Carol! Today I'm excited to welcome Sarah Ockler! The author of Twenty Boy Summer! Check out the rest of the tour stops here!

Sarah Ockler wrote and illustrated her first book at age six—an adaptation of Steven Spielberg’s E.T. Still recovering from her own adolescence, she now writes books for young adults. Sarah has a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of New York at Buffalo and also studied creative writing through Denver’s Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

While nomadic at heart, Sarah and her husband Alex currently live in Upstate New York with an ever-expanding collection of sea glass (hers) and dinosaurs (his).

TWENTY BOY SUMMER is her first novel.


"Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."
"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 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.

Twenty Boy Summer has a lot of things going for it, friendship, family, fun at the beach but also things like death, lost love, and grieving. I think the book balances the range of emotions the characters experience beautifully. It makes reading about these tough emotions easy to handle and not scary. I found it rather believable, everyone is so confused about how they should feel and act around each other, struggling to remember their son/friend/love/brother but also trying to push his memory aside so they themselves can survive.

Immediately I identified with Anna who is more soft spoken and kind of hangs out in the shadow of her best friend Frankie. But as the story went on and Frankie shed part of her protective layer I got to know her better and understand what she was about. I loved the character of Matt as well, he seemed like the perfect guy! And seeing the connection he made with Anna and then seeing his life end in an instance, that was heartbreaking.

Overall Twenty Boy Summer is a layered and emotional book but at the same time fun and easy to read! It provides a great balance!

Twenty Boy Summer was released on June 1st!

4/5 Stars

ARC provided by publisher

And here's an interview with Sarah Ockler!

1. Most of Twenty Boy Summer takes place on the beach, did you do any of your writing on the beach? If not at the beach did you have your sea glass handy?

I love the beach! But by the time I started working on Twenty Boy Summer, I was living in Denver, where there are *noooo* beaches (not even close!). But, while I wasn't able to write any of TBS on the beach, I did have lots of beach memories and journals from previous beach trips that I could borrow from. And of course I had my sea glass handy. I collect it in jars and it's never very far from my writing space. It really does bring me back to the ocean, even when I'm completely land-locked!

2. Twenty Boy Summer deals with some heavy issues, how did you get these feelings into words?

That's a really good question. I guess I've always been better at expressing my feelings through writing, so when it came time to write about the heavy emotions and issues in Twenty Boy Summer, it felt pretty natural. I'm the type of person who writes to get my feelings out and to work through issues, so during the novel writing process, I try to put myself in the heads and hearts of my characters and let it flow on to the page as if I was writing about my own pain or elation or confusion or whatever emotion I'm trying to convey in the scene.

3. Your book has recently been released how do you feel, what did/will you do to celebrate?

It's still a pretty surreal feeilng, but I will tell you that whenever I walk into a bookstore and see Twenty Boy Summer on the shelf, my heart jumps a little bit! The book hit the shelves a few weeks early, so Mom and I went book-stalking all around town. Then, for the official release, we had a book dinner and party with close friends and family, for which I stayed up all night making Twenty Boy Summer heart cupcakes from scratch. I may have slightly over-estimated the number of cupcakes I'd need, so now I have about 50 leftover. Hmmm. Maybe that wasn't an accident! :-)

4. What is your least favorite part of the writing process?

I really despise writing a synopsis. I just haven't mastered that whole describe-your-novel-like-a-book-report thing. Ugh. :-)

5. Do you have any advice to help me get over my fear of E.T.?

Well I used to be afraid of spiders, but now I like them. I mean, I don't let them crawl on me or anything, but I don't go around moshing them. So you just have to see E.T. as a living creature who deserves a happy home and love and family, regardless of how creepy/scary/different he seems, and maybe then you'll start to accept him into your heart. No one's saying you have to hug him or anything. But... no E.T. moshing!


  1. haha I love #5. Nice review, copy paste. lol. :D

    omg yan is gonna kill me ok bye lol

  2. Great review and interview. The more I know of Sarah the more I like her, she's so cool.

  3. So neat that you got to interview Sarah. I absolutely loved 20 Boy Summer and wish her the best of luck.

    ♥ Nely

  4. Great review and interview! I keep hearing such great things about this one. I'll have to add it to my wish list (actually, it may already be on there). :)

  5. Super interview! I've been wanting to read the book, now I'll have to nudge it up closer to the top of the pile.

  6. I'm looking forward to reading this book. Loved the interview!

  7. Great interview, Alea! I have to agree with Sarah, writing a synopsis is the worst!!!

    And it's never going to stop being funny that you're afraid of ET. Sorry ;)

  8. Oh my gosh, E.T.! *hugs* hehe :D

  9. I loved this one too! Thanks for the great interview.

  10. Thanks for the awesome review and interview :)

  11. cool reaview and interview!


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