October 1, 2013

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Title: Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publish Date: May 8, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Rating: 5/5 Stars

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.

I cannot find one bad thing to say about this book.  It made me laugh, cry (okay, so it was more like sobbing), bounce up and down in my seat, squeal, and most of all, smile. It shattered my heart into a million pieces and put (most) of them back together again.

We begin our story by meeting Taylor Edwards, our protagonist and daughter of a man who has just received very bad news. Upon hearing this news, the family decides to spend their final summer together at their old lake house, where they haven't been for five years. Taylor's feelings about this are far from positive - by returning to the Pocono Mountains, she will be seeing people she'd rather not see for the rest of her life, confronting her mistakes head-on, and finding out more about herself than she had ever realized before.

Let's just get this out of the way: I adore Taylor's character. She didn't whine the whole book about how awful her situation was, though it was so terrible I couldn't even imagine being in her shoes. When she reaches the lake house, she falls into her old practices of running when things get tough, but makes a serious effort in changing that, and has developed by the end of the novel. Secondly, she is strong without being too strong. She wavers emotionally - expectantly so - but shines through by the time we finish reading.

The supporting characters made me simultaneously laugh, cry, and want to throw the book across the room. (But I didn't. I had to keep reading!) Henry and Lucy's reactions were perfectly reasonable and realistic, something that has been lacking in many of the books I've picked up lately.

Furthermore, even though we are aware of the inevitable ending - or at least part of the ending - Matson crafts her writing in a way that changes what we expected to something even more extravagant, moving, and (let's be honest, here) tear-jerking. I wanted the story to never end.

Needless to say, I loved this book so much that I picked up Morgan Matson's debut novel, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, and am so excited to get into it. I would recommend this book to lovers of Sarah Dessen and Sarah Ockler, and hope to see more of Matson in the years to come.

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