Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

By: Morgan Matson
Published By: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Series: None
Pages: 480
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: TLA
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: 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.

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 haven't read Morgan Matson's first book, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, but after reading Second Chance Summer I know that I need to move that book up on my to-read list. Second Chance Summer is, in a word, beautiful.

For the past several years, Taylor has spent her summers away from home, and she thought this one would be no exception. But when her dad gets the news that he has stage four pancreatic cancer, his one request is that the family spend their last summer together at their lakehouse in the Pocono Mountains. Reluctantly Taylor and her siblings make the trip along with her parents, but Taylor dreads this summer even more than her siblings. While Gelsey will only miss ballet classes and Warren can study anywhere, Taylor has a lot of history at the lake, history that she would rather not relive. However, the past always has a way of catching up with you, especially in a small town. Taylor has to confront her old friends, which also means confronting her own faults. At the same time, she realizes she is only now beginning to know her father, and their time is running out. Soon Taylor learns that if you're lucky enough to have a second chance, you have to make the most of every moment...

Reading books in which the outcome is easily surmised can sometimes be hard, disappointing, or even boring. Second Chance Summer was none of those things. In fact, this book, with its unassuming yet somehow still profound writing, suspended time, and while I was reading it, I forgot about everything else. I loved the setting of Lake Phoenix - it was the perfect atmosphere for this story (and also made me want to go to the mountains). Along with the setting, the characters truly came to life. I felt like I knew them all, from Gelsey's passion for dance to Warren's penchant for reciting facts to Taylor's dad's puns. Taylor herself was quite real and relatable - even though she was not always able to express her emotions, I was always able to feel them. Through flashbacks scattered in the novel we learn what happened between Taylor, her former best friend Lucy, and her first boyfriend Henry. Even though these three were young at the time, the story speaks to the power and depth of childhood friendships and first loves.

So many emotions and relationships were portrayed in this novel. We saw joy and sorrow, tears and laughter, aspects of parent-child and sibling relationships, friends, and even romance. Because of that, this book is the total package. In addition, Taylor's emotional journey gives a great message of courage and strength. I loved who she became by the end of the novel. This story really tugged on my heartstrings and had me tearing up in a few places. The story might have been hard to read sometimes, but it is one of the best books I have read so far this year.

I said this earlier and I will say it again: Second Chance Summer is beautiful and a book that I know will stay with me a long time. I am eager to see what Morgan Matson writes next!


  1. I had no idea about the plot of the book - wow! It sounds like something I definitely need to read.

  2. Your review made me add this to my wish list! I love books like this and will have to read it. Thank you!


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