Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Title: Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Published: May 8, 2012
Pages: 482
Source: purchased

Amazon Summary: 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.

'Second Chance Summer' was exactly the subtle summer novel it comes across as. It was a really nice story altogether.

What you'll find out early on is that Taylor's dad is sick and that's why the Edwards have decided to spend the summer at the lake house they haven't visited in five years. Though, five years ago Taylor made decisions that broke her first relationship and friendship with her best friend, and now she'll be back to face everything.

What I mean when I say that 'Second Chance Summer' was a subtle novel is that the speed of the book as well as the plot itself was steady and calm. 
You'll know where things are headed and there won't be any surprises along the way but, as I think most are aware when picking this up, it's the kind of book that's not about any of that - this novel was focused on telling an engaging story about family, second chances, and not being afraid.

I'm a sucker for lakeside scenery, ever since my first lakeside novel exposure in 'The Boys Next Door'. Although, I'm not as much for lakes in real life (maybe I just haven't found the really nice ones) I can't think of a nicer setting in books. If I ever end up living by a lake (at some point in my life) it's all because of these lakeside novels.

What really made 'Second Chance Summer' was truly the little things - Taylor and her dad's secret ice cream and breakfast tradition, Taylor's weird boss, her stage fright, Warren's constant fact sharing, Taylor and Lucy's ways of communicating across the lake, Murphy, the neighbors acting out their script, the licorice. 
Just these little puzzles, even the smallest of them, coming together as a big picture. Most of all it was how close-knit the entire novel was. Somehow it worked.

I liked the characters just fine, but they didn't grow on me. I was especially surprised by how so-so I felt about Henry - I don't know, I just expected his character to make more of a difference.
However, I liked Taylor's relationship to her dad. I liked that they sort of had an understanding just the two of them and how authentic that felt even though they weren't necessarily super-close.

Though Taylor's dad's illness is addressed throughout the book - hard to avoid, to say the least - I do find 'Second Chance Summer' to be more of a nice (for lack of a better word..) story than a heartbreaking one. That's not to say I didn't spill a few tears, I definitely did. The ending was beautiful in a way, I left off feeling good.


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