Second Chance Summer
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Date Published: May 8th, 2012
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.
I picked this one up by accident at the library last week. I was strolling through the YA section and saw this one out of the corner of my eye. I’m a sucker for pretty covers and so I grabbed it on a whim and I’m so glad I did! I know it’s a couple years old, but I saw that the author has a new book coming out next month and I loved it so much that I just had to review it anyway.
Taylor and her family just got some really bad news. Pretty much the worst kind of news a family can get, and they got it on her birthday. Her father is dying and only has a few months left to live and he wants to spend the time with his family at their lake house that they used to go to every summer. After spending the last few years not spending too much time together, the summer starts out awkwardly and is made worse by the fact that Taylor is confronted with the two people at the lake that she would have rather never seen again. Finding out that her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend are still there after five years is hard for Taylor to deal with, especially since she’s the reason they’re not friends anymore.
Let me start out by saying that I had a totally different impression of what this book was going to be about before I read it. I’m not sure why, but I thought this was going to be more a teen romance novel. And although there is romance in there, it’s definitely not the focus of the book. Much of the book is devoted to the way that a family deals with devastating news, and how they use the limited time they have left. The author does it beautifully. I lost my mother when I was 16 unexpectedly, and I don’t know if that’s part of why I was so invested in this storyline. I don’t think so, although it did make me think about what you would do with extra time with a loved one if you knew it was almost the end. It’s really beautifully written and brought me to tears several times, because you could feel the emotions of the characters. The fruitless anger, frustration and overall sadness as Taylor goes through these last few months with her dad just come out as very real as well as the joy she finds as her family pulls together.
What I Loved
1. The characters: Taylor herself is a very relateable character, you can feel her pain and joys throughout the story and she has incredible growth as a character from beginning to end. Lucy is the greatest friend! She has to work through so much resentment over what happened in the past with Taylor, but she cracked me up too. She’s boy crazy and utterly loyal to her friends. And last but not least, Henry. Sigh. I could have done with a lot more of Henry! He is just the perfect guy for Taylor, and super adorable too.
2. Working through grief: As someone who has experienced a death of a close family member, I really identified with Taylor as she was going through this loss and the time before it. I was brought to tears several times because of how real this felt emotionally.
3. The lake: Loved the setting at the lake house. I’ve been to a beach house several years in a row and I got that same nostalgia that I saw in the book. Where things look exactly the same even as time goes by. And it’s the perfect setting for teenage friendships and romance.
4. The writing: This book is very well-written, one of those books you keep reading until 1 in the morning and then realize you have to get up in 5 hours. (*facepalm*) It’s one of the ways I know I love a book, you get so engrossed you don’t even feel the time passing by.
What Bothered Me
For a longer book, I could have used more romance. There was a lot of build up to it, and I felt like when we finally got to the romantic part of the story, it was cut a little short. And more kissing scenes! You can never go wrong with more kissing scenes.
I am officially a Morgan Matson fan after this. If you want a book about love and loss and family, this is the one for you. And if you’re smart, you’ll have some tissues ready!
About the Author
Morgan Matson grew up in New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College in Los Angeles but halfway though a theater degree, she started working in the children’s department of Vroman’s Bookstore and fell in love with YA literature.
Following college graduation (and the proud bearer of an incredibly useful theater/English degree) she moved back East to attend the New School, where she received her M.F.A in Writing for Children.
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, inspired by Morgan’s three cross-country road trips, was published in May 2010. It was named an ALA Top Ten Best Book, a PW “Flying Start” book, and was shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Book Prize. It has since been published in five different languages and six different countries.
In the meantime, Morgan moved back to California, went back to school again and in 2011 received an M.F.A. in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California.
Her second book, Second Chance Summer, was published in May 2012 and draws largely on her experiences spending summers growing up in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.
Morgan currently lives in Los Angeles, though she loves to travel and does it whenever she can. She is currently writing another book, to be published in 2014.