Title: Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Genre: Contemporary fiction, YA
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
So out of the three that Veronica insisted I buy (and I regret nothing!) this was the first I read. I figure I would get the heartbreak over with, yeah? And I’m so glad I listened to her! This was an amazing book, and really redeems the whole contemporary fiction genre for me. If I can keep finding more like this, I’ll be a convert in no time!The best part about all these characters was that I identified with each and every one of them: Warren’s lack of social ability, Taylor’s feelings of being overshadowed by her dancer sister, Henry’s anger at his mom’s abandonment, and Lucy’s bitterness towards Taylor’s betrayal. I never was annoyed by any of their presence, because I loved them all!
Taylor: She started out as a bit weak, making excuses for herself and what she did all those summers ago, and complaining about her life circumstances. But then, pretty quickly, she pulled herself together and began to make some serious changes. I absolutely loved watching her develop as a person, and learn more about her dad and herself, and becoming okay with who she was and actually beginning to care for something of her own.
Henry: As far as love interests go, he was perfect. He’s quiet, sweet, and a huge support for Taylor, even when she pushes him away. He’s like that constant presence: no matter what you do, he’ll always be hidden in that background, just waiting to return.
Lucy: I think everyone needs a Lucy in their life. Or, if you are one, can I keep you? She’s spontaneous and adventurous, though sometimes to a fault. She can get in over her head sometimes, but she’s a firecracker that you’ll never know when it’ll go off. Watching her slowly melt in her anger was one of the best parts, and I’m so glad that she warmed back up to Taylor and was there for her. One of my new favorite BFF pairs!
Warren: This is just an honorable mention, because I loved Warren to pieces, extreme awkwardness and all. His random facts would entertain me to no end, and if you think I would be smitten if he told me that Cola was created after a mistake while trying for Aspirin, you’d be 100% right. 10/10 would date!
Concept: It’s a cancer book. There’s nothing new about it, at all. But I still loved it, because the focus was on becoming a true family while facing crisis, and finding yourself and your own happiness even after loss.
Plot: When I’m entertained even when nothing is truly going on, I know it’s a good book. Every chapter has that sense of a lazy summer, but at the same time, one that speeds by so quickly you never know where the time went. I think it paralleled Taylor’s journey very well, and I loved how everything was so organic and it melted out slowly, bit by bit. And there was even some suspense as I tried to figure out what exactly had gone wrong with Henry and Taylor, and Lucy and Taylor.
What I really appreciated was the way Matson presented Taylor’s dad’s cancer. From the moment she says “pancreatic cancer,” I knew what the endgame was. You don’t survive that cancer (I think the chances are 1 in 16,000?), and it was the perfect way to set the tone for the book. I knew exactly what I was getting into, and it wouldn’t be one where Taylor’s dad miraculously survives and everything is peachy keen. There’s going to be pain, sorrow, and healing. And it was just perfect. *applause*
Oh, and yes, I cried. Not legitimately, since the tears didn’t hit my face, but they were welling up in there. If I had been alone, I would have been a mess. But my mom was there, so I held it together 😉This book wasn’t quite at the 5+ star point, but it came pretty darn close! I just absolutely loved it, and it was the perfect book to lose myself in for a few hours. I’m definitely going to be reading Matson’s previous book, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for any future releases as well!
My Final Rating:
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