Friday, September 28, 2012

Book Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Series: Standalone
Read my review of Amy & Roger’s EpicDetour
Published: May 8th, 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing
468 pages (paperback)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: Bought
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Purchase this book: Book Depository || Amazon}

GoodReads Synopsis: 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.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog or you’ve watched my YouTube videos, you’ll likely know that Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is one of my favourite books ever. From the moment I heard about Second Chance Summer, I knew I had to read it, and I even bought it, which is a rarity for me.

Taylor has a habit of running away from her problems. As the middle child in a family with a genius for an older brother and a dance prodigy for a younger sister, Taylor is pretty ordinary. When her dad is diagnosed with cancer and given a few months to live, Taylor is forced to come to terms with a lot of things in her life and in herself. I enjoyed watching her learn things about herself and her family, and discovering it’s never too late for a second chance.

While I had trouble connecting with most of the characters, I found them likeable. I particularly liked Warren, and thought his fact-spewing and awkwardness were hilarious. I also liked Taylor’s dad, and how he had a distinct personality for a secondary character. The interactions between him and Taylor were funny, sweet, and touching.

As much as I liked this book, I didn’t love it the way I loved Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. I know it’s not fair to compare the two, but I’m finding it hard since Amy & Roger is one of my favourite books. Second Chance Summer was lacking that special something that made me love it. I connected with every single character in Amy & Roger, even the secondary characters that we just met briefly. I didn’t get that with Second Chance Summer. I also thought it was a bit too long, and the pacing was kind of slow at times.

On a personal note: as with my review for Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, I’d like to take a minute to talk about how this book affected me on a personal level. After reading the synopsis for this book, I can tell you that if it had been written by any other author, I probably wouldn’t have read it. A father dying of cancer - way too close to home. And while that may sound ridiculous since I wrotea book about cancer, I tend to avoid reading them. We know from the beginning that Taylor’s dad is going to die, but I cried my eyes out when it happened. I was only ten when my dad died, and even though he had been sick for two years, he was getting better, so we didn’t know he was going to die the way Taylor’s family knew. I cried so hard in their last scene together, and then when she got the letters from him - I’d give anything to have letters from my dad. I have a vivid memory of crying to my mum before my dad died saying how he wouldn’t be at my grade eight, high school, and college graduations, or at my wedding or any of the other huge life milestones, so this particular part hit me hard. I felt like Matson handled the whole illness and death thing well, and the emotions rang true.

Overall, Second Chance Summer was a good, emotional story about family, love, and taking advantage of second chances. I’d recommend it to those who enjoy contemporary young adult with a bit of emotional depth. 

Have you read Second Chance Summer? What did you think? What do you think of books that tackle real, emotional subjects like cancer and death?


  1. I love when a book hits home like that. It can be a good thing or bad but there's something about it that always astounds me.

  2. Great review. I also loved Amy and Rogers Epic Detour, and like you I knew I HAD to have this book. It is still sitting on my shelf waiting to be read, but I know I will have to read it at home, I wont be able to take it to work to read.
    I am in the same boat you have been in, which you know about and he is doing ok, and like you I have avoided books were the Dad dies of cancer, but I have read other books about it.

    I really want to read Second Chance Summer soon, but part of me is putting it off as I know it will hit very close to home, ill have to make sure i have a few boxes of tissues handy, and maybe some ice cream too ;)

  3. This has been on my list for ages - I own it, and I just haven't had a moment to read it. I loved Amy and Roger just as much as you did...I'm curious to see if I'll feel the same way as you did about Second Chance Summer.


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