I received this book for free from Won in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 8th 2012
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
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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’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for a very long time and just about every summer I look at it and consider picking it up but then something holds me back. I have to be mentally prepared for a book so heavy and I can’t deny the size was a little overwhelming too, since contemps are rarely that long in YA. But with a little inspiration from a fellow blogger who is a huge fan of the author, I finally gave it a chance and I’m so glad I did!
After finding out her father’s cancer prognosis was giving him only a few short months left to live, Taylor’s family packs up for their summer lake house to spend that time together. It’s been five years since their last visit and Taylor has some baggage left from their last summer there in the form of a friend and boyfriend she wronged and is nervous to see again. The details of which are vague at first and revealed to us piece by piece with short flashback chapters from that time integrated into the novel. The novel spans the entire summer and all the good and bad times with family and making new friends as well as making up with the old.
I loved Taylor’s evolution throughout her summer. She had a bad habit of running away when things get tough and that’s a huge part of her journey. But it was something she came to understand and recognize about herself and she fights to make gradual steps to do better, be better. There was an amazing cast of characters that added such wonderful elements to the overall storytelling, many of which had their own personal issues to overcome and we get to see those developments as well. Henry, her childhood sweetheart, added a little romance and swoons to the story. He was incredibly sweet and romantic, and most importantly forgiving and understanding of who Taylor is.
I was worried I would be crying the whole book, and at almost 500 pages that can feel intimidating. But, for such a large book it never felt that way and I got through it quite quickly. There were times I got a little choked up knowing what was to come but all the happy and sweet family and friend moments really balanced the heavy. Nothing was more bittersweet than the family interactions, especially Taylor’s moments with her father – whether it be breakfast dates, his dad puns, watching old movies together, or playing question games to get to know each other. The love this family shared was a joy to experience and the relationships between them only grew.
Of course this leads us to the end. I knew it would be hard and to be honest just thinking about it while I write this brings tears to my eyes. Thank god my family was sleeping at the time because I was full out ugly crying. Hard. The author did a phenomenal job breathing life into these characters and the story to leave such a resounding impact on me. It was completely worth all the tears! Do yourselves a favor and grab this one up if you haven’t already!