Anna has grown up listening to stories about Zanzibar Bay from her two best friends, siblings Frankie and Matt Perino. Her sixteenth summer, Anna is finally able to experience the beach for herself when she gets invited to join the Perino family. But this summer at Zanzibar Bay is different; it is the first full summer without Matt. While Frankie and Anna plan the best summer ever - in which they will meet a boy each day for twenty days towards the goal of a summer fling - this is a thin cover for the grief the family suffers a year past Matt's tragic death. And Anna suffers through a silent grief; she hasn't lost a brother or a son, but a friend and her first love. Anna can't tell Frankie about her brief romance with Matt - interrupted by his death - or her fear that a summer fling will make him disappear.
This novel covers aspects of grieving that aren't often presented in teen literature, particularly those centered around guilt and jealousy. Many of the characters exhibit jealousy around others' loss and ability to grieve publicly, and Anna experiences some survivor's guilt and guilt, ultimately, about how her emotions and memories about Matt will be shaped by moving on. At the same time, the novel is about friendship, growing up, and falling in love, and the writing is very personable and realistic.