Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson (review copy) - Taylor Edwards family might not be that close - everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled, but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor's dad gets some devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend on last summer together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains. Crammed into a place much smaller than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again, but as the summer progresses they're more aware than ever that they're battling a ticking clock. And as Taylor tries to deal with the drama at home, she is faced with the fact that the friends she thought she'd left behind haven't actually gone anywhere. Her former summer best friend is still living across the lake and still as mad with Taylor as she was five years ago, and her first boyfriend has moved in next door...but he's much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve. Can one summer be enough time to get a second chance - with family, friends, and love? From Amazon UK
After falling in love with Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, I was eager to get started on Morgan Matson's second novel Second Chance Summer, hoping for a read that was just as good - and got one that was better!
I started the book feeling like I wasn't going to like it much. It just seemed to me that not a lot was happening; Taylor and her family go to the holiday home, and due to her having some problems with the people she used to know in the area, she's not doing much. She's bumping into Henry, her ex-boyfriend, everywhere she goes, and it's awkward. She gets a job at the beach snack bar on her Dad's suggestion to discover her ex-best friend, Lucy, works there too and is pretty much completely ignoring her. And little by little, each day, her Dad gets a little bit worse. But it just doesn't seem like anything is going anywhere. It's still addictive reading, because there's something about Matson's writing that keeps you interested in Taylor's life despite everything seeming a little trivial.
But you come to realise that Matson has a brilliant way of making her novels seem that much more real than other novels by putting in aspects of life - like Taylor's job, like spending time with her family on holiday, like awkwardness with friends from the past - into her stories that are normal, everyday things to us readers. That sounds like it's boring, but it's not, it's easily to relate too, and the characters are so interesting, their personalities and who they are, that their everyday lives are interesting too. And it doesn't stay that way all the way through. It worked brilliantly with the end of Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, and it works just as well in Second Chance Summer.
Then things step up. Things get a little complicated when she's constantly seeing Henry and Lucy, and relationships - even strained, not friendly relationships - are formed. It's great to see her slowly try to fix things, with the flash backs to her holidays at the lake house in the past, seeing how those friendships used to be; the sweet innocence of childhood, compared to the more serious issues faced as a teenager, while your whole world is collapsing.
Unfortunately, there's not a huge amount more I can say about this book - it's more the kind of thing you have to experience yourself. The book takes place over the summer, so it covers four months. Because of the three different people in her life that are affecting her the most this summer - her Dad, Lucy and Henry - and the time the book has to cover, you're always wanting Taylor to have more page time with each of the people than you get. Because the moments you do get are so sweet, beautiful, powerful, moving, you're desperate for more of the those moments. But the book is 468 pages long, so it's asking a little too much of Matson to want it to be even longer.
Second Chance Summer is a terribly sad but absolutely wonderful story, and, along with Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, has placed Matson right up among my favourites.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Children's Books for the review copy.
Published: 7th June 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Books
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