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.
Because so much of Twenty Boy Summer is about best friends I asked Sarah to write about her best friend.
The first is Melissa, who was my BFF throughout childhood, high school, and most of college. Our relationship was filled with intense drama that left us alternately inseparable every second of the day, and not speaking for months on end. We were so close that people who didn't know better assumed we were sisters. We shared everything--clothes, music, the occasional boyfriend (oops!). And if one of us appeared in public without the other, always people asked, "Where's your twin?" We finished each other's thoughts, finished each other's homework, and made grand plans for a future that never materialized. Eventually, we went our separate ways... but not entirely. We still keep in touch online and see each other when we're all home for a wedding or the holidays, and it's always nice to catch up. Although our lives are very different now, I cherish my memories of the good old days with Melissa and I think of her often. There are shades of us in Twenty Boy Summer's Anna and Frankie, and I wonder now if she'll read it and see them and remember all of our summers together the way I did as I was writing the book.
Fast forward several years, and I'll tell you about my absolute favorite person in the world, Alex. I don't even like to call him my best friend, because he's so much more than that... they haven't even invented a word for him (though I'm partial to calling him Pet Monster). I fell in love with him pretty much the first time we met and I just knew we'd be married one day (not that I revealed that on the first date or anything. That was more a fourth or fifth date conversation!). We got married in 2005, and every day brings us closer, reveals a new aspect of our friendship, changes everything, and every day I'm grateful. Of all the people in my life, Alex has been the constant champion of my writing, the one who encouraged me and wouldn't let me give up, the one who gave me the space I needed to find my writing voice and all the pep talks and hugs when I was just about done, the one who never lets me forget what I was put on this earth to do. Because of him, it's easy for me to write about falling in love, because I get to do it all over again every day.
Another face I see when I think of my best friend is Rachel, a.k.a. Darling Rachel. I've only known Rachel for about two years now, but she's just one of those people you meet and it's like you've known her your entire life. In a matter of hours, Rachel and I went from sharing curly hair products to sharing writing critiques to sharing secrets and advice to sharing tears to sharing a bottle of wine, then getting tipsy and sharing a few inappropriate jokes. :-p Rachel lives in Colorado and I miss her every day, and on the times when we do chat or see each other, there's no time or distance, no awkward reconnection, no apologies. I know I can tell her anything and she'll listen, and then she'll advise, because she's direct and honest and real, but she won't judge. She'll push and question and wonder, but she won't walk away shaking her head. I love her for that.
There's only one other woman I feel that way about -- Amy. Amy and I are so tight that we've formed an official alliance called the Worst Best Friends. We're the charter and only members, and we alternate being the worst best friends to one another in a cut-throat competition for the title of Ultimate Worst Best Friend. Amy and I met in New York City 10 years ago and in that time have cancelled, bailed on, been late for, or flat out forgotten more mutual dates than I care to recount. One time I left this sweet, blond, freckle-faced angel alone in a Mexican restaurant for almost 2 hours with my lateness, and when I arrived, she could barely stand, having sampled every flavor margarita from the fine establishment in my absence. We had a good time that night at her expense. ;-) But the best thing about my worst best friend is that she's really not worst at all, and no matter how much time passes or how many times we miss or forget or show up late for calls or dates or just can't get it together, we pick up the threads of the conversation as if she lives right next door and I see her every day. Like Alex, Amy has been a champion of my writing, helping me stay on track with a constant undercurrent of love and support and excitement, especially as I began working on Twenty Boy Summer. There is so much I admire about her and I'm so thankful to know her (and share the title of UWBF!).
There are other people in my life that I consider close and best and wonderful and amazing, and although by telling you about each of these people, this post seems to dilute the love I feel for them, I assure you that it isn't dilluted. It can't be. I'm finally figuring out that true friendship is ever-expanding, and I think that's my point -- for me, it's not just *a* BFF anymore. When I was younger, I had a best friend. We did everything together, shared everything, felt each other's pain as much as we shared our elation. We painted our toenails and talked about having kids at the same time and being next door neighbors and running away from home and everything in between, and then things changed. Or evolved. The point is, things are different now. Not bad, just different. And although there are times I long for that single BFF again who will go on a girls trip with me and finish my sentences and read my thoughts and know me so completely that we can sit in a room in comfortable silence for hours, that person doesn't exist as a single person anymore. She exists as all of my close friends, and together they bring a richness and joy to my life that I never could have imagined before.
So do me a favor. If there is someone in your life that you’re thinking about now, someone you haven’t heard from in a while, maybe not your one single BFF but someone who might not know how much she means to you, give her a call. Not an email. Not a text or a tweet. A call. And just say hello. Because chances are, she’s thinking of you, too.
You can find my review of Twenty Boy Summer here.