Second Chance Summer – Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 8th May 2012
Edition: US hardcover, purchased
Other Titles by this Author: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour
Sandwhiched between two exceptional siblings, Taylor Edwards never felt like she stood out – except for her history of running away when things get too complicated. Then her dad receives unexpected, terrible news, and the family makes the last-minute decision to spend the summer together in the cramped quarters at their old lake house.
Taylor hasn’t been to the summerhouse since she was twelve, and she definitely never planned on going back. Up at the lake she is confronted with people she thought she left behind, like her former best friend Lucy, and Henry Crosby, her first crush, who’s all grown up...and a lot cuter. Suddenly Taylor is surrounded by memories she’d rather leave in the past – but she can’t run away this time.
As the days lying on the beach pass into nights gazing at the stars, Taylor realizes she has a second chance – with friends, with family, maybe even with love. But she knows that once the summer ends, there is no way to recapture what she stands to lose. From Morgan Matson, the PW Flying Start author of Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, this is a remarkable new novel about hope in the face of heartbreaking grief.
Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour was one of my favourite books of 2010 and it gave me insanely high hopes for Second Chance Summer; it pretty much met them.
One of the first dilemmas we’re thrown into is the events of Taylor’s last summer at Lake Phoenix five years before that prevented her from ever wanting to come back. Morgan Matson kept us wondering for a good, long while before she finally revealed what event would turn Henry and Lucy so strongly against her that they’d still be holding a grudge five years later.
I loved how the impact of that summer was emphasise with sporadic flashback chapters that related to what was currently going on with Taylor and the rest of her family, Lucy and Henry. It actually felt quite similar to We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han in that respect; even the format at style of the chapter headings looked the same! Both books are amazing though so that only made me love Second Chance Summer even more as I remembered the awesome of Han’s trilogy.
Once Taylor’s faux pas her twelve-year-old self made is revealed, she just becomes even more lovable as it completely fits with her characters. She wouldn’t have been able to do anything else in that situation. I think that was one fo the things that captured me about Second Chance Summer, just how real Taylor is. She has made mistakes, hurt people unintentionally, has fears, regrets and hopes just like any other seventeen-year-old, just with a worrying tendency to run away. But then again, I’d want to run away from some of the things she faces during the summer. I know what it’s like to have a parent battle cancer, and luckily my mum is still fighting after five years, and so I felt deeply for her and her family.
As Taylr’s dad succumbed further and further to the cancer, I could barely see the words on the page through my tears – it was heartbreaking. To see Taylor push everyone away and focus only on what she’s losing choked me up and by the end of the novel I was a sobbing mess. I even had to stop reading a pull myself together so I could see again to carry on to the end. And then you had the reveal of her dad’s secret project which started another avalanche of tears.
Along with the torrent of feels came a cameo from Amy and Roger and my day was made. I loved Second Chance Summer and I’m already keeping my eyes peeled for Morgan Matson’s next book.