Title: Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: May 8th 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
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Taylor's family might not be the closest-knit – everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled – but for the most part, they get along fine. Then they get news that changes everything: Her father has pancreatic cancer, and it's stage four – meaning that there is basically nothing to be done. Her parents decide that the family will spend his last months together at their old summerhouse 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 summer best friend is suddenly around, as is her first boyfriend. . . and he's much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
As the summer progresses, the Edwards become more of a family, and closer than they've ever been before. But all of them very aware 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.
I loved Morgan Matson's debut, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, so I'd been waiting to read Second Chance Summer for a while now. And luckily, Morgan Matson's sophomore novel lived up to my expectations - Second Chance Summer is another great summer read that will tug at your heartstrings!
What I loved most about Second Chance Summer is the family storyline. I loved all of the characters, especially Taylor's siblings: Warren and Gelsey are both fully-developed and fun to read about, and I enjoyed seeing how their relationships developed over the course of the novel. And even if 'liked' is the wrong word to use here, I really appreciated the story of the approaching death of Taylor's father. I loved the moments she got to share with him, and I also really liked how we got to be there with Taylor and to see her dad's health deteriorate every day. Most grief-related books I've read start after someone has died, so I really liked actually getting to witness this process in Second Chance Summer.
I also loved reading about Taylor's friendship with Lucy. The subtle and reluctant way these two start to forgive each other brought a smile to my face. I especially liked their relationship in the first half of the novel, when they are reconciling and getting to know each other again; in the second half, sadly, their friendship is no longer the focus and Lucy's character loses some of her dynamics.
This loss of focus on Taylor's friendship with Lucy is mainly because, in the second part of the novel, the romance takes center stage. And unfortunately, the romance is the only part of the novel I didn't enjoy as much as I had hoped. Honestly, Henry's character seemed kind of bland to me: we are told that he's a nice guy and that him and Taylor share some kind of special connection, but we are never shown this in a way that would make me really understand what makes the two of them click. I also found the drama in their relationship towards the end of the novel kind of unnecessary formularic.
Despite my issues with the romance, I really enjoyed Second Chance Summer. With beautiful writing and the perfect balance of lighthearted and emotional scenes, Second Chance Summer is a great summer read. I can't wait to read Morgan Matson's next book, Since You've Been Gone!