In the matter of a few books, (Since You’ve Been Gone and Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour), Morgan Matson managed to convince me she was one of the greatest contemporary authors out there. After hearing such incredible things about Second Chance Summer, I obviously had my hopes up high when starting (and a box of tissues ready at all times). I buddy-read this book with the incredible Kat, and it was well-needed, because if I could sum up this book in one word, it would be: FEELINGS.
It might be summer, but there’s nothing light about this…
“A thousand moments that I had just taken for granted- mostly because I had assumed that there would be a thousand more.”
A tsunami entered in Taylor’s life on her birthday, ruining everything she thought she knew about the future in one single second. In an attempt to save the last few months with her Dad, sick with incurable cancer, her whole family decides to go back to their lake house, to spend one last summer together. CAN YOU FEEL the tears coming, because I did, just by reading this synopsis. Second Chance Summer is far from a light reading in the summer, on your pool chair – unless you’re enjoying to cry your eyes out in front of other people. Let this be a warning, if you’re a marshmallow like me. It’s a heavy yet very enjoyable story, with a huge focus on the importance of family, time spent together, getting to know each other. It’s not a plot-driven story, but has a huge focus on characterization, and is allowing within the story to let the characters, the family and just, life to expand and take such a huge place you feel like you’re stepping into their lives. AND IT HURTS.
Some annoyingly and painfully REAL characters
“And I’ve realized that the Beatles got it wrong. Love isn’t all we need—love is all there is.”
It hurts because it’s real, or something like that. But, if I had to define the characters in this book, it’s that word I would use. Taylor, our main character, is far from being perfect, and I have to say there were times where she annoyed me, and made me want to shake some sense into her. But she had her own personality, and from the start until the end of the book, we can see her shaping, taking her life into account again and just growing. That was wonderful. Moreover, all the characters aside are just as important, and they all felt real, because Morgan Matson manages to give them quirks, from Warren the brother, fascinated with random facts about Heinz (yes, the ketchup) and other stuff, to her sister and mother, with their present and past of ballet dancing, to her dad (insert ugly crying here), to her former childhood friends. HELLO FAVORITE TROPE OF EVER. I’m a huge fan of childhood friends turning into more, so I loved Taylor and Henry’s relationship, from trying to be friends again, to more, to less, to… Their relationship’s growth just felt very realistic given everything that’s happened between them in the past, and I was grateful for it. I’m a sucker for this kind of thing, and their relationship made me smile.
A focus on friendship, family, and on the tears running down your face
“It seemed crazy that something so big, so seemingly permanent, could be knocked down by a little wind and rain.”
Above everything, Second Chance Summer is about second chances (you didn’t see that coming…did you?). With friendships, because something happened between Taylor and her friends’ years ago, and they had to learn to forget, forgive and move on. I did have some issues on that part, because holding a grudge for something so silly seemed, well…silly. But true friendship manages to get past 12 years-old silliness now, so all for the best. It’s also about second chances with family, and…let’s just say you know how this will all end, right from the synopsis. With a lump stuck in your throat called feelings, and tears falling down your face because why is this happening and it’s just so, so sad.
If you’re not into character-driven stories, this might not be the book for you, because it’s a contemporary that’s 400 pages long. If you’re into stories with a huge focus on family, friendships, forgiveness, childhood friends, love YA contemporary, or just one of these things, then WHY didn’t you read this book yet? You should. I’ll be there to hand you a tissue.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Did you read Second Chance Summer? Did you CRY A LOT? Do you want to read it?
If you know a book is going to make you cry…do you pick it up anyway? Share your thoughts in comments!
Morgan Matson, Second Chance Summer, Published by Simon & Schuster, May 8th 2012.
From the Flying Start author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, a powerful novel about hope in the face of heartbreak.
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.