Title: Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
How did I get this book: Bought
Fair warning: don’t finish reading this book on Father’s Day. I did, and I bawled like a baby on my dad’s shoulder for several minutes. I’m glad I had him there to hug while I did. This was me:
Let’s start with a brief synopsis:
Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.
Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.
As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.
What I thought:
You know that the ending of Second Chance Summer is coming right from the beginning, but there is absolutely nothing you can do to actually prepare yourself for it. Like I said, I BAWLED. I curled up next to my dad and hugged him hard and just bawled. There are books that make me cry, I mean that’s what happens when an author makes you feel things, but I don’t usually cry this hard at a book, like ever. So I think that there’s something to say about Matson’s writing in this case. She made me feel everything that Taylor feels so much that it almost felt like my own father had died, which, now that I think about it, was not a great thing, but her writing is very true and real.
Of course, it’s not just the ending that makes this book…great? Can you really say great about something like that? I don’t know. Anyway, just like with the other Matson book I’ve read (Since You’ve Been Gone), I thought all of her characters were fleshed out and three-dimensional. Taylor’s two siblings, Gelsey and Warren, were full, real, and believable. I really liked Warren; I think I would’ve had a crush on him if he were real. He has an inability to stop himself from sharing all these facts about the things he’s read or learned, so his family gets facts about how Coca Cola originally started (an accident; they were trying to make aspirin) and a bunch of other things. He’s nerdy, and I like that. 🙂
I thought that the drama that happened between Taylor and her childhood friends, Lucy and Henry, was also pretty believable. I think the reason behind their drama makes it so that Taylor is flawed in a way that a lot of people can relate to her.
Okay, on to the thing that irked me. I don’t know about other people’s experiences, but these are my own personal experiences. What 12 year olds have relationships like Taylor and Henry’s? Taylor was “fully aware of his presence next to me (page 162)” while on a date with Henry. Really? But then Henry had to show her rocks and insects in the woods that would “blow her mind.” I just don’t think the immaturity of that really fits in with a relationship like theirs. The prose used to describe their attraction to one another is too deep for a 12 year old. The possibility of Henry kissing her seemed to “infuse every day” and then they make out a lot. She comments on the fact that she’s spent her whole life reading about things in Seventeen and now it’s happening to her. Again, really? You’re 12. NO. Also, later, when we’re with Taylor when she’s 17, Henry’s younger brother, who is 12, thinks that kissing is disgusting. It just doesn’t fit. Especially when you add to it the drama between Taylor and Lucy and Henry. As I said before, I liked how Matson handled this drama because it was very believable. But it was believable because she was 12 and that’s the kind of drama you have when you’re 12. You don’t have these kinds of relationships though. So yeah, I didn’t really like the chapters when Taylor was 12 because it wasn’t relatable and realistic. On the other hand, I thought the romance between Taylor and Henry when they’re 17 was sweet and wonderfully done.
Then we’ve got the real basis for this plot: the Edwards family. They start off the novel not really talking about their feelings or the fact that their father is dying; Taylor doesn’t even remember the last time she told her father she loves him. I can’t even really imagine that. I tell my family I love them several times a day. As the novel progresses, they get closer and become a unit, a family. By the end of the novel, they are each other’s support system, and I loved the growth of their family. They learned what was really important and to draw comfort and strength from one another. It was sweet and I enjoyed reading a book that supported the idea of family.
The bottom line:
I really liked this book, just as I knew I would. It was very emotional, but also sweet and wonderful, and it the importance of family, which I loved. While I didn’t like the romance between Taylor and Henry when they were 12, I really liked it when they were 17. I would definitely recommend this book.
Rating: 7.5 (between pretty good and freaking fantastic)
Reading next: Necroscope by Brian Lumley (can you tell I need something COMPLETELY different?)