4-star · Book Reviews

Book Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Title: Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
PubDate: May 8, 2012
Page count: 468

“A thousand moments that I had just taken for granted- mostly because I had assumed that there would be a thousand more.”

This was my second book of Morgan Matson and after reading The Unexpected Everything, I became a fan of her and decided to read all her other books. Second Chance Summer is a story about family, friendship, life’s mishaps and second chances at things.

Taylor Edwards has a habit of running away especially when things get hard. It’s in her nature to just leave when she realizes things are not going her way. But when they receive the news that their father has cancer and he wishes for them to spend their summer at the family’s lake house, Taylor has no choice but to agree and face that first thing she ran away from five years ago.

Taylor wasn’t the best character for me but she wasn’t the worst either. She was your typical teenager who had boy-school-family problems, who sometimes got scared and who sometimes did things she regretted. At first I didn’t feel any special connection with her (I actually didn’t like her) but I slowly grew on her and I liked how her character has developed throughout the book. And given her circumstances, she’d been a strong girl and at some point she learned to brave things she thought she couldn’t handle and she realized that running away can’t really solve a problem. If anything, running away could make things worse.

The thing I loved most about this book is the way how it focused mainly on the family aspect. It was heartwarming to see how Taylor and her family began to get closer with each other as they spent more time together. Warren and Gelsey were more like my kind of characters and it was nice to see them enjoying the summer despite thinking they should be spending it somewhere else. There were some scenes that brought tears to my eyes and it was just so heartbreaking everytime there was Taylor-Dad scene. I’m close with my family so it was really good seeing Taylor’s family developing their relationship with each other. And at some point I knew it would have a sad and heartbreaking and inevitable ending so I braced myself right before it happened.

“Daddy,” I whispered, feeling my own breath hitch in my throat. “I love you.”
Just when I was sure he was asleep, the one corner of his mouth lifted in a smile. “I knew that,” he murmured. “Always knew that.”

Taylor and Lucy’s friendship was also another thing I loved in the book. Five years of lost friendship but they still found a way to rekindle. It was hard, of course, but at some point they realized that their friendship was worth reviving after all. And Henry, oh my god Henry! I know I always fall for every guy in the book I read and Henry was no exception. Twelve year old Henry was hurt by twelve year old Taylor by disappearing one summer five years ago. It was supposed to be a special summer for them with developing feelings and first kisses but when things didn’t turn out the way Taylor expected them to, she decided to just run away. Now Taylor was back and Henry was surprised to see her again. But as summer went on and explanations were laid out and second chances were given, Taylor and Henry found themselves catching up on five years worth of things they missed on each other.

I thought you’d never speak tome again.”

I tried,” he reminded me, and I smiled at that. But seriously,” he said, looking right at me, his tone a little more measured, “you’re a hard habit to break.

I’ve grown to love Matson’s writing even after only reading two of her books. Her characters were simple and realistic and though I didn’t like Taylor at the beginning, Matson did a good job at her character-development. And it was a perfect book for summer with the lake house, the beach, the family games/movie nights and all the summer activities. And oh, the fireworks! Overall it was a good book that will make you smile, cry and will make you cherish your family more. A book not about having the best or worst summer, but about learning a thing or two about life. A book about family, friendship, life’s mishaps and second chances.


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