Title: Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Release Date: June 7th 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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Taylor hasn’t been back to her families lake house for five years, not since she ran away from a mistake which cost her her childhood best friend and her first boyfriend. When her father is diagnosed with cancer Taylor has to face that mistake however, as her family head back to the lake house for one last summer together. While Taylor’s younger sister can lose herself in ballet and her older brother in his college reading, Taylor has nothing to fill the endless days stretched out ahead of her.
I feel like all of Morgan Matson’s books have had deeper story to tell; they’re not just fluffy YA contemporaries with a cute romance but books about family, and Second Chance Summer takes that to the next level. Her father’s cancer diagnosis has given the family a few months to spend together, and over the course of the summer Taylor watches as her father’s health declines. As well as the development of her family there was fantastic character development for Taylor as well.
With no better options Taylor finds herself taking a summer job, and ends up working with the childhood best friend she ran away from. Add to that the fact that her first boyfriend now lives next door and Taylor can’t escape the mistake she made five years ago. Over the course of one summer Taylor becomes closer to her family, but the time bomb that is her father’s diagnosis looms over the family and she learns that she can’t run away from every problem she encounters.
Second Chance Summer follows Taylor over the three months her and her family are at the lake house, but we also see key events that define her history; from hearing her father’s diagnosis for the first time to what happened five years ago between her, Lucy and Henry. This book has a slow burn story, it’s the development of the characters and their relationships with one another which makes it such an emotional read.
Taylor has never been good at facing her problems, when things get too hard her first instinct is to run away. In the past it’s been her dad who’s followed her and brought her home again, of her parents Taylor has always been closest to her father, but Taylor has never faced head on the hard times that have shaped her past. Her father’s diagnosis isn’t something she can run from when every day she can see how he’s deteriorating.
As much as Taylor grows in this book, realises running away doesn’t solve everything when the problems just wait for you to come back, it’s still something she defaults to when things get too much to handle. She doesn’t want to face what her father’s diagnosis will eventually mean, she bottles up her thoughts and feelings on the subject and puts people off when they ask about them.
At the beginning of Second Chance Summer Taylor isn’t close with her siblings; they’re all too different and while her sister and brother have something which makes them stand out Taylor sees herself as the unexceptional middle child. As the story continues that difference is bridged a little as Taylor realises there are things her brother and sister aren’t exceptional at which she can help them with.
The relationship between Taylor and her father was both beautifully written and heartbreaking, and my favourite part of this book was reading about the breakfasts’ Taylor and her father go on during her days off. Although Taylor was always closest to her father she realises she doesn’t know much about him at all. She always put her family off for her friends or boyfriend thinking there’d be more time, but now there isn’t any more time.
Both Lucy and Henry play a key part in Taylor’s development. It wasn’t so much what Taylor did five years ago which hurt them so much, but the fact that she ran away without giving an explanation. It’s been a long time for both Lucy and Henry to live without answers, letting their hurt feelings grow into resentment and anger, but now back at the lake house Taylor has a chance to make amends.
This was an incredibly emotional read, probably tied with Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour for my favourite Morgan Matson release, and by the end I was in tears. Second Chance Summer does have a cute romance which grows over the summer, but the part of this story which stayed with me past the final page was the journey Taylor’s family went through over those same three months.
What did you think of Second Chance Summer? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.