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About the book
Second Chance Summer is a stand-alone young adult novel by Morgan Matson. The book was published by Simon and Schuster on 7th June 2012 and it is 480 pages long.
Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
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
What I thought
I loved Morgan Matson's other book, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour and I couldn't wait to this one, although I didn't have it in the summer when it was released. Instead, I got bought it as a Christmas present and read it soon after New Year. Let me start by saving DO NOT BE DECEIVED BY THE COVER! Yes, it looks like a happy, summer book but it is more than that and you won't be expecting what is inside.
Main character Taylor has a habit of running away whenever things get tough. When he Dad gets some bad news and the family decide to go away for the summer, back to their old summer house in the mountains, she definitely doesn't want to go. Things happened five years ago at the summer house and with everything going on with her Dad, it's more than she can handle. I really enjoyed getting to watch Taylor grow and deal with the harder things in her life.
It was really good to see a slightly different family dynamic throughout this book. Taylor isn't incredibly close to her Mum, younger sister or older brother although she does have a special relationship with her Dad. This family was slightly different because they weren't perfect and they didn't get along all of the time, which made them a real family in my eyes. Having her family around though made it possible to get to know them although not quite as well as we get to know Taylor herself.
While at the summer house, Taylor is reminded of what happened there years ago. She has to try to rekindle her friendships with old friends Lucy and first boyfriend Henry. I really liked these two as characters and thought that they made great additions to the book. Lucy is mad at Taylor for whatever it is what happened (this is revealed throughout the book) and refuses to talk to her while Henry is shy, quiet and doesn't really know how to react to Taylor being back. The tension and awkwardness between the characters was fantastic and really gave this book that something extra. Henry is the love interest of the book although it isn't the main theme of the story. It was nice to have a little bit of romance without it consuming the whole book.
Second Chance Summer is more about love and loss. Taylor's Dad is terminally ill and the family's idea was to spend one last summer away together. It was heart-breaking to see Taylor's Dad slowly get worse and worse and become less like himself. This aspect of the story is drawn out right through to the very end. I was sat on a train reading this book, tears absolutely streaming down my face and me thinking; 'I thought this was a happy summer book?!'. It is not! However, Second Chance Summer is sad in the best possible way because it has a story which makes you feel and characters who really make you feel for them.
While this was not the book I was expecting to read, it was wonderfully written, heart-breaking and lovely all at the same time.