Friday, August 10, 2012

Review: Second Chance Summer

Second Chance Summer
By Morgan Matson
Published: May 8, 2012

My review:

It's been five years since Taylor and her family went to their cabin on Lake Phoenix for the summer and she is not anxious to go back. Last time, the summer ended with the loss of some important friendships. This time it will end with loss of a different kind. Taylor's dad has been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and she knows it is going to be a summer of goodbyes. Her family never talks about their feelings and Taylor usually runs away from her problems. This is her last chance to mend broken relationships and to spend time with her dad.

I knew this would be a sad book from the start but I was surprised at the humor and thoughtfulness too. At the beginning of the book, Taylor is contemplating running away (though she isn't really serious) and she reminisces on all the times she ran away as a little kid and how her dad always knew where to find her. Taylor is used to avoiding her problems and burying her head in the sand but this time she doesn't have that option. Over the course of the summer, Taylor has to deal with her past mistakes and broken relationships as well as her dad's deteriorating condition. 

I like how Taylor grows as a character from the kind of person who hides from difficulties to the type of person who has learned to face the hard times and own up to her mistakes. Taylor has the chance to fix her broken friendships with her best friend Lucy and her ex-boyfriend Henry. The family relationships also grow as Taylor's typically distant family learn new ways to communicate with each other. I thought it was touching when Taylor helps her older brother improve his social skills and helps her younger sister learn how to make friends. The best part however is seeing Taylor reconnect with her dad. 

My one issue with the book was that it seemed implausible that Lucy and Henry would be so angry towards Taylor when they first meet again after all those years. After some reflection however I realized that it isn't so far fetched as teens tend to feel everything so deeply and both Lucy and Henry felt betrayed by Taylor. Henry and Lucy also had other difficulties that summer with their home lives that would have been amplified by Taylor's actions.

Second Chance Summer is a moving book that somehow avoids becoming overly dramatic. In a way it reminded me of the movie The Last Song but the romance is not as prominent as the family relationships. I loved Amy and Roger's Epic Detour and I found this book to be just as touching. This would be a good suggestion for fans of Sarah Dessen or Nicholas Sparks.

Readalikes: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, Moonglass by Jessi Kirby, A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks, The Last Song 


  1. This is one of the best books I've read this summer. I totally teared up towards the end!

  2. Interesting! Haven't heard of this book, but then again, I've been out of the reading world lately..

  3. Yeah, this does sound like a sad book-I was almost crying just from reading your summary here. I'm very intrigued by the comparison to The Truth About Forever since that is my second-favorite Dessen and it gives me high hopes that I'll love this book too.

  4. If SCS reads like The Truth About Forever, The Last Song, or even Moonglass, then I'm definitely interested in reading this since I love each of those books. I like how family relationships are more important in this one, too.

    Fabulous review :)


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