Tag Archives: chick lit

Review: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Title: Twenty Boy Summer
Author: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Chick Lit
Rating: 5/5

Why I picked it: It’s a banned book…so automatic appeal there.

Synopsis:According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every 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 her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Review: I have to really compose myself before writing this review because “Twenty Boy Summer” really impacted me. And I’m not ashamed to admit that – even being like 13 years older than the target audience. Sarah Ockler really blew me away with her story about love, loss, and that kinda awkward time that being a teen girl is really all about.

On the day of her 15th birthday, Anna’s wish comes true and she gets kissed by Matt – a close friend and also the brother of her best friend, Frankie. The kiss turns into many more as Matt and Anna steal moments of urgency that can only be associated with first lust. The intensity of their moments is conveyed in a way that made me really feel that rush of desire and innocent love. Instead of telling Frankie about their new connection, Anna and Matt decide to keep a secret – for fear of how she will take it. Matt, as Frankie’s brother, decides that he will be the one to tell her during their annual summer vacation to California. With that, he makes Anna promise that she won’t say a word beforehand. Before the secret relationship can be revealed, an accident happens and Matt does not survive. Anna decides to keep her last promise to him and does not reveal her secret to Frankie.

The book really picks up about  a year after the tragedy when Frankie and Anna are getting ready for summer vacation. This year, Anna is accompanying Frankie and her parents to California, and both girls vow to have the best summer ever –  a summer filled with twenty boys, one of whom Anna plans to lose her virginity to. Frankie, the more “advanced” of the two girls orchestrates the plan and puts it into motion, while Anna is more just along for the ride.

What really makes the book is Ockler’s impeccable writing and how she is able to put descriptive words to the exact emotions,  sense of loss,  and of  the not-belonging that teenagers face – especially teenage girls. One of my favorite lines in the book is:

“Tonight, when Frankie sits at the table and innocently knocks over her glass of Diet Coke, Aunt Jayne starts to cry, and the translucent veil of general okayness evaporates to reveal the honest, ugly parts underneath.”

I just cannot gush enough about how well-written this book was. It really brought be back to having similar emotions and experiences, in that sort of cusp of womanhood when you’re starting to realize the power of your sexuality and the impact of lust. I can see why this book ends up on Banned Books lists, but I really don’t think it should. The lessons it teaches far outweigh the implications that it makes. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone, especially anyone who currently is, or has ever been, a teenage girl.

Review: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Author: Beth Hoffman
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Chick Lit, Southern Lit
Rating:4/5

Why I picked it: I generally really enjoy Southern Lit, and this was a bargain buy from Amazon.

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille-the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town-a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah’s perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

Review: There is something about a book that is oozing with Southern charm that I can’t deny. Maybe it’s the foreign-ness of that kind of society that never fails to draw me in, or maybe it’s the rich descriptions of a slower kind of life, spent sipping sweet tea on a covered porch. Whatever it may be, when I saw “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt,” in the bargain section at Amazon, I knew I just had to read it.

The book is often compared to “Secret Life of Bees,” which was darling and definitely fit the “Southern Lit” criteria. Both protagonists are young women who are on the cusp of adulthood and discover much about life and family after spending a summer down in the South with very strong female role models.  In CeeCee’s world, these women are from all walks of life and of all different races.  As we follow CeeCee on her journey into acceptance with who is she and who her mother was, these women play an enormous role in getting her to that point.

What I really enjoyed most about this book was Hoffman’s writing. Her descriptions were so rich and sweet! I really regret not tabbing the pages that had these right lines on them, so that I could go back to them later and just re-absorb the wonderful sentences.

Hoffman really did a great job of balancing the different relationships in the book, without making any of the many characters “one note.” Each woman in the book can hold her own and I’d be interested to learn more about them all. My favorite was the lovable character of Oletta, who is the housekeeper in CeeCee’s new home. With her as one of the primary character, the very real subject matter of  racial tension was touched upon, but in a way as to not overtake the core of the story – which was about the growth of a young girl.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to fans of other books such as “The Help.” It was a short and sweet read that stuck with me.