Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 7th June 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Summer, Contemporary, Romance, Family, Friendship, Cancer, Grief
Rating: 4/5 stars
Source: Received from the publisher for review
"Taylor Edwards family might not be that close - everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled, but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor's dad gets some devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains. Crammed into a place much smaller than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again, but as the summer progresses they're more aware than ever that they're battling a ticking clock. And as Taylor tries to deal with the drama at home, she is faced with the fact that the friends she thought she'd left behind haven't actually gone anywhere. Her former summer best friend is still living across the lake and still as mad with Taylor as she was five years ago, and her first boyfriend has moved in next door...but he's much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve. Can one summer be enough time to get a second chance - with family, friends, and love?"
Amy and Rogers Epic Detour was one of my favourite summer reads of last year so I was really excited to hear that Morgan Matson was coming out with another summer read this time centring around a summer at a lake house, one family’s last summer together, and the importance of grabbing those all too rare second chances when life throws them to you.
If I had to sum up Second Chance Summer in one word it would be Bittersweet. The book is equally heart-breaking and equally filled with carefree blissful summer moments, Morgan Matson getting the balance just right. Taylor Edwards is spending her summer with her family in their old lake house; her days will be filled with ice creams at Jane’s, movie nights on the beach, and relaxing out on the lake, sounds perfect right? Well not really. Taylor’s dad has recently been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer and has been given only months left to live. It’s her dads wish that they spend one last summer together as a family so they spend the summer at the family lake house re-connecting, reliving old memories, and generally spending their last few months in each other’s company while they still can. If that wasn’t enough Taylor’s reluctant to go back to their old summer lake house not only because she knows by the end of summer she’ll be coming home without her dad but also because she didn’t part well with her old friend from childhood Lucy and her first boyfriend Henry the last time she was in town. But summer is a time when anything feels possible, will Taylor learn to face her fears and get a second chance before it’s too late?
I said it in my review for Amy and Roger and I’ll say it again here. Morgan’s writing reminds me SO much of reading a book by queen of summer stories Sarah Dessen. If you’re a fan of Sarah’s books you will love Morgan’s and vice versa. What they have in common is that they both have the perfect balance in their books of tackling a sensitive subject, in this books case cancer, and yet still pulling off a feel good summer read. They both have this gift of knowing just how far to push people’s emotions without the book feeling too heavy and when to add the fun summery goodness to lighten the mood. Morgan Matson has also included a cameo from Amy and Roger at the beginning of this book something that Sarah is famous for doing with her stories. The cameo was a nice little extra and brought a smile to my face.
Second Chance Summer is the kind of summer read that I love. There were moments where you could almost forget what Taylor was going through because she was so brave and lived by her dad’s wish that they have as normal and happy a summer for as long as possible. Then there would be a heart-breaking tender moment with her father that was so touching that I’m not ashamed to say I cried over on several occasions so much so that I’m surprised this book wasn’t a great big soggy heap of paper by the time I was finished with it. This book is the perfect mix of summer fun and heartbreak as you watch Taylor have this life changing summer and watch her grow as a person.
However I do have to say that as nice as Taylor and Henry were I didn’t come to love them as much as Amy and Roger but that’s just my personal preference although I had a lot of respect for Taylor and the way she handled her family situation. I did however fall in love with so many of the secondary characters particularly Taylor’s dad, Warren and Wendy and Lucy and Elliot. There were so many great characters to get to know and love and the community at the lake was a real highlight of the book for me.
Although I didn’t love Second Chance Summer quite as much as Amy and Rogers Epic Detour it was still a brilliant summer read that’s well worth checking out. A word of warning, you may want to read this one in privacy and don’t forget to read it with a big box of tissues!
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