Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

June 19, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 5 ★★★★½

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.

Second Chance SummerSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 8th 2012
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Won
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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!

About Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson was born in New York City and grew up there and in Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, but halfway through a theater degree, she started working in the children’s department of Vroman’s Bookstore and fell in love with YA literature.
Following college graduation (and the proud bearer of an incredibly useful theater/English degree) she received her M.F.A. in Writing for Children from The New school and worked as an editor for YA novels. She received a second M.F.A. (for reasons that made sense at the time) in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California.
Her novels have been translated into dozens of languages, and published all over the world.
Morgan’s first novel, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, was inspired by her love of road trips, snacks, and the quest for the perfect playlist. It was named an ALA Top Ten Best Book, a Publisher’s Weekly Flying Start book, and was shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Book Prize.
Her second novel, Second Chance Summer, was inspired by her experiences spending summers in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. It was the winner of the California Book Award (YA category) and was named to the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults List, selected for the Oklahoma Sequoya List, and selected as a School Library Journal Best Book.
Her third novel, Since You’ve Been Gone, was published in 2014, and was a Publisher’s Weekly and international bestseller. It was named to the YALSA Teens Top Ten list, and the Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award List.
Morgan’s fourth novel, The Unexpected Everything, will be published May 3rd, 2016.
She currently lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Murphy.

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

5 Responses to “Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson”

  1. Christine

    Yay! So glad you enjoyed this! This is the only Matson book I haven’t read yet. I own it but I’m like you and have to be mentally prepared for it so I just have never gotten around to it. I’ve loved all her other books so I imagine I’ll like this one too. Her books are really long but I think that’s something I quite enjoy about her style. I feel like you really get to know the main characters, see them struggle, and see them grow. You’ve definitely persuaded me to finally pick it up this summer!

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