Title: Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Pages: 468 pages (hardcover)
Publication Date: 8th May 2012 (US) by Simon and Schuester
‘The thing is that people only get hurt – really hurt – when they’re trying to play it safe. That’s when people get injured, when they pull back at the last second because they’re scared. They hurt themselves and other people.”
“A thousand moments that I had just taken for granted, mostly because I had assumed that there would be a thousand more.”
Second Chance Summer revolves around Taylor Edwards and the summer she spent with her family in their old lake house in Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania. She hasn’t been in there since five years ago – when she made a terrible mistake with her (former) best friend Lucy, and her first crush, Henry and then ran away – but now she has to come back and face her fears because a sudden, greater one forces her to.
Her father has just diagnosed with cancer. And he probably has three months left to live. Therefore, her dad decides to spend the rest of the summer with his family in their lake house. And as the title suggest, this summer is all about second chances – at loss, at friendship, at happiness, and at love – and dealing with loss.
Second Chance Summer is one of those books where the ending is inevitable, where the readers can already predict how this will end but you know you will still get emotional. I don’t know if it is me who cries too easily upon seeing a work of fiction or if I really am a faint-hearted, but Morgan Matson has a knack of twisting a seemingly normal, simple summer story into a fur ball of emotions that will leave you hugging your pillow in the middle of the night, bawling your eyes off. Having loved her “Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour” last 2011, I knew I was in for something good. And she did not disappoint. The characters in Second Chance Summer are understandable, no one is over the top. They all are not being cardboard cutoffs. Our heroine, Taylor – sandwiched between a genius brother and super talented ballet-dancer sister, grows up as a very awkward girl, thinking that she is very plain and incapable of anything compared to her siblings) – is someone that we all can relate to, that got me exclaimed, “Ahhh I’ve been there!” Her feelings and her experiences are familiar to me, as I was also dealing with the loss of a parent last year. The lack of closeness that The Edwards family has at the beginning at the novel swiftly changes as time passes by, and how Taylor makes amends with her past and her present really shows how developed Taylor as a character until the end.
The only problem I had with Second Chance Summer is the Big Problem that Taylor has caused, making Lucy and Henry still holding a grunge even after five years later is far too simple. I was looking forwards to finding out what it was and when I did, I was taken aback and wondered, ‘Wait.. That was it?” I wished it would be more complex so it would add more depths to the characters.
Overall, Second Chance Summer is a very enjoyable read.