Title: Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Published: May 8th 2012
Length: 468 pages (Hardcover)
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
You know the feeling you get after reading a really sad book. Like crying your eyes out won’t be enough. Like you’re suffering from heart failure. Like the sorrow is your own.
This book failed to fully bring me that feeling.
I have to start by telling you that I don’t think this book is bad exactly. It was good in fact, just not great. It didn’t quite cross the finish line.
Maybe because the race was too long? That would explain why I lost the will to keep on reading when there still hadn’t happened as much as I would have liked in the first half of the book.
Maybe because it waited too long to just give it all and sprint? When the secret finally was revealed, I certainly had lost some of my interest in the whole thing, and was almost on my way to turn back and not finish the race myself. Or maybe run ahead.
Or maybe it lost the will to reach the finish line because it wasn’t cheered on? I kept on waiting for the ultimate bonding-moment between Taylor and her siblings, but it never really came. Gelsey and Warren showed up a couple of times in each chapter, but barely became more than the ballet-dancing, annoying little sister that her mother loved the most, and the know-it-all big brother full of useless (but great) facts. I think that’s kind of sad, because Warren was one of the more interesting characters in my opinion, and I would have loved more of him as a person.
Okay, I will stop with the race-metaphors (I’m not sure why I started in the first place), but you see my point.
I think that since the book wasn’t short on pages, Matson could have used the space to develop more of the characters and their relationships to each other.
But that’s basically all the negative things I had to say about Second Chance Summer.
I liked Henry, Davy, Taylor and the others, and even though I didn’t feel like I really got to know Taylor that well, I still wanted her to be happy. The relationship between Taylor and her dad was by far my favourite thing, rather that the romance (though that was nice, too). I loved the puns.
“Oh, shucks,” my father said, his pun expression spreading over his thin face. I smiled, and it looked like my mother was trying not to. “Oh I’m sorry,” he said, with mock contrition, “was that too corny? Personally I thought it was a-maize-ing.”
A big struggle for Taylor in this book, is the guilt of enjoying life while her father is sick. I have never had anyone close to me dying of cancer, but I can imagine this is something a lot of people can relate to.
The end made me cry a bit, so I did care about the characters. That’s definitely a good thing. The rest of the story wasn’t good enough, though, so sadly it won’t be a book I will remember, or really recommend to my friends.
“It was the same feeling as going back into the house had been – the realization that just because you’d left something behind didn’t mean that it had gone anywhere.”
“I’m fine,” I snapped at her, even though there was a piece of me that knew she didn’t deserve it. But I wanted her to know what was wrong without having to ask.”
“But how do you know?” I asked. He looked up at me and frowned. “Know what?” “You said you didn’t want to waste your time on people who aren’t going to matter,” I said, and he nodded. “But how do you know they’re not going to matter? Unless you give it a shot?”