Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Format: eBook, 482 pages
How I got it: I bought it!
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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’ve wanted to read Second Chance Summer for years and I’ve had a copy both on my shelves and on my eReader since shortly after it came out, but I just wasn’t brave enough to pick it up and read it until last weekend. And even then, I was equal parts excited to finally read a book by an author who I consider to be one of my favorites and terrified because I knew it would bring a whole lot of potentially devastating feels. I’m a grown ass woman who is lucky enough to still have both of her parents, but I struggle so hard with books/TV shows/movies where a parent is sick or dying. It’s something I don’t think you’re ever ready for when its your own parent and reading books or watching a show or movie automatically puts you in the spot of that character who is watching their parent die or dealing with the aftermath of an unexpected death. Or at least that’s what I find myself doing. It’s something I avoid pretty much at all costs, yet I felt compelled to read this book over the weekend and, while it was as painful as I expected at times, it was also a beautiful read and easily one of my favorites for May.
I’m not even sure what to say about this book that hasn’t been said roughly a thousand times before, so I’m not going to waste a lot of your time with an unnecessarily long review. I loved the characters. Taylor was so very easy to identify with, on a number of fronts. I adored her father (*weeps*) and the rest of her family. Though I was initially on the fence about Henry and Lucy – her childhood crush and childhood best friend – I definitely grew to love them, too. I liked how Taylor grew over the course of the book, reconciling with Henry and Lucy after five years of being apart after some immature actions on her part. The friendships were strong and, while it took a little while for the romance to really gain traction, I eventually found myself grinning like a fool while reading the scenes with Taylor and Henry. I loved how she took responsibility for how she ran when she was younger and attempted to build something new and honest with each of them. She needed all the friends she could get to help deal with her dad’s illness and who better than the people who have known her for years?
I’m filing this book under “painful, but totally worth it.” It pummeled my heart at times, but it also made me happy in others. It was a really conflicting reading experience as I juggled the feelings I had about her dad’s deteriorating condition and the happier feelings about the friendship and romance… and even the way her family was coming together during this time, as they all tried to balance their own fears and feelings. Add to that the way I put myself in her position and imagined what it would feel like if it was one of my parents and I was basically one big ball of feels. I cried so much that I literally gave myself a headache. I’m not even kidding. It was an ugly, ugly cry. You know the one… with the shaking shoulders and hiccups and swollen eyes. I simultaneously loved and hated Morgan Matson and these characters for making me feel so damn much. But, at the end of the day (or the book anyhow), I loved it for so many reasons. Yes, it will make you cry. It will likely rip your heart out like it did mine. But it’s totally worth it. The sadness isn’t totally offset (in my opinion) by the hopefulness, but it’s pretty darn close. Regardless, it was a wonderful read that I just can’t recommend highly enough.
And despite the circumstances that had brought us here, I couldn’t help being glad for just a moment that we were sharing this together, as a family, at last.
It wasn’t until now, when every day I had with my father was suddenly numbered, that I realized just how precious they had been. A thousand moments that I had just taken for granted–mostly because I had assumed that there would be a thousand more.
And so I lay there, just listening, knowing that each breath was another moment he was still here and, simultaneously, that meant meant he had just moved a little closer to being gone.
I’ve realized that the Beatles got it wrong. Love isn’t all we need–love is all there is.
Have you ever read a book that totally destroyed you but was worth every single tear?