TITLE: Second Chance Summer
AUTHOR: Morgan Matson
RELEASED: May 8th, 2012
AGE RANGE: YA
When Taylor’s father suddenly falls devastatingly ill, his only request for the summer is to take the entire family back to the summer lake house they used to visit every year, when the kids were younger and things were easier. The only problem is that Taylor messed up, a long time ago, and Lake Pocono isn’t nearly as welcoming as it once was. In the most pivotal season of her life, Taylor must learn how to juggle her father’s health struggles and her own need to find a second chance in the lives of her former best friend and boyfriend.
I’d never read anything by Morgan Matson before, but I’d heard so many rave reviews about her books that it felt like this read was long overdue. I tried to hedge my expectations going in, because the hype honestly sounded too good to be true, but I have to admit that I was pretty surprised by what I found.
A thousand moments that I had just taken for granted—mostly because I had assumed that there would be a thousand more.
First, the narrative voice in this book? Incredible. It was so easy to lose myself in, and I found myself effortlessly attaching to Taylor’s character. She’s extremely flawed and doesn’t always do the right thing, which is part of what makes her such an excellent protagonist; I found myself relating to her reactions, especially her tendency to run from painful situations, as I think we’ve all done that a time or two (I know I have).
But one thing that I was learning about what happened when you stuck around—it usually seemed that other people were willing to stick by you as well.
On top of that, the plot revolving around her father and his health — wow, it hurt my heart so much. There are scenes between Taylor and her dad that are physically painful to read because the fear of loss is breathtakingly authentic and leaps right off the pages. It’s not just Taylor’s pain either, though; her entire family feels so real. The worst scene for me (no spoilers) was a scene in which Taylor’s grandpa comes to visit, and the way he reacts when first seeing her dad (his son) — I’m choking up just thinking about it.
As I looked out at the water, I realized there was nowhere to go, nowhere left to run. And I just had to stay here, facing this terrible truth.
All of that said, Second Chance Summer isn’t just some endless parade of heartache. There are so many wonderful moments as Taylor finds her way back to her former best friend, Lucy, and her childhood boyfriend, Henry. The over-arching theme of the entire story is a reminder that people can change, and sometimes, we all need second chances.
Buddy read with Reg! ♥
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