Author: Sarah Ockler
Page Count: 290 pages
Summary: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.
Review: I actually bought this on a whim - I was on the Absolute Write YA message boards in a thread about the best sex scenes in YA, and someone mentioned this book! That's not really the only reason I bought it, though, because I'd been wanting to read it since it came out, but with my awesome Nook, I got it instantly. (Totally not product placement, I just love my Nook so much.)
Ockler's writing style is absolutely beautiful, although at times it didn't seem to fit the teenaged protagonist. I won't fault her for that because Ockler definitely has some talent in the writing chops department, especially in the area of description. I always like it when authors can describe the most mundane things in completely new ways, or just so specifically that you can totally imagine it - Deb Caletti does this, as does Sarah Dessen, two of my favorite YA contemporary writers.
I could definitely empathize with Anna and she was a very understandable character, but her best friend, Frankie, kind of got to me. I understand that Frankie's brother had just died a year ago, but she was so selfish and immature about it that it pissed me off. And maybe that was Ockler's intention, to make Frankie immature, but it just didn't hit me the right way. But I really liked the way that Anna's feelings were described - she felt like an outsider because, even though Matt had been her best friend, he wasn't family and so she couldn't mourn in the same way that Frankie's family could've. At least, in other people's eyes.
My only problem: both Matt and Anna's newer love interest, Sam, were not fleshed out enough in my opinion. Especially Sam. I couldn't see what Anna thought was so great about him, other than he was cute. I think there have just been some awesome love interests in past YA contemps that I've read, so that's why I felt both Matt and Sam were a little lacking.
Overall, though - this book was very good. I don't like to judge a book by how fast I finish it, but that's usually an indication, and I finished this one in two days. It made me feel that little chill of first love, of the first guy you kissed, which I always love in YA. I'd definitely recommend it.
Overall: 4/5 stars