Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson Review: BRB, crying right now

January 20, 2016 by Jenna | 5 stars, Books, Reviews

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson Review: BRB, crying right nowSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing on May 8th 2012
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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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.

This book had me curled up into a ball, crying my eyes out at 2am in the morning because I couldn’t stop reading it. It was emotional and heartwrenching, but also fun and adorable at times. Second Chance Summer was a wonderfully balanced novel and a joy to read (despite making me ugly cry for hours and causing me to be emotionally exhausted the next day).

Second Chance Summer is a beautiful coming of age story about courage and forgiveness. Our main character, Taylor, is the average middle child who is overshadowed by her smart older brother and talented younger sister. She’s the girl who runs away or quits when things get tough, but when her father is diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer, she has no choice but to face her problems head-on. The family decides to take a trip to their summer house, where they haven’t been for 5 years. Here, at Lake Phoenix, Taylor must face not only her father’s failing health but also her former friends who she ran away from 5 summers ago.

I really loved Taylor’s growth in this book and it’s definitely become one of my favourite coming-of-age stories. It was really nice to see Taylor persist in situations no matter how much she wanted to give up. I could feel her becoming stronger throughout the whole story and I liked that she was constantly developing as a person. So often in YA, we see the main character grow after some sudden late realisation that they need to change, and I appreciated that Taylor’s development started early on in the book and wasn’t spurred by some event during the climax of the book. I found Taylor’s fears and anxieties to be very relatable and I was rooting for her from the very beginning. The way that she conquered her fears was also very admirable and I just loved Taylor’s character.

secondchance

He had gone to his senior prom, but with his study partner, who was pretty much the female version of Warren. They’d said they wanted to examine the ritual as a cultural experiment. After the prom, they had cowritten a paper on it for their A.P. Psychology class that had won a national award.

I enjoyed every single character in this book, which isn’t something that I can often say. Besides Taylor, my favourite character in Second Chance Summer was Warren, Taylor’s older brother. He’s incredibly smart and career-focused, and I loved the way that he just would not stop boring people with non-stop facts about everything. He just cracked me up with every scene he was in, from his fear of dogs, to his falling in love at first sight with a veterinary student who loves dogs. His awkwardness at asking her out on a date was hilarious and I just loved Warren so much! I also liked all the other members of Taylor’s family, but I particularly loved seeing Taylor’s interactions with her father and how they managed to find new ways to connect during such a difficult time. The bond between them was so heartwarming and affected me so much that I couldn’t stop the tears at all.

It wasn’t until now, when every day I had with my father was suddenly numbered, that I realised just how precious they had been. A thousand moments that I had just taken for granted – mostly because I had assumed that there would be a thousand more.

I thought Second Chance Summer had the perfect balance of family, friendship, coming of age, romance and grief. While it was emotional, it was also light and fun. The book never focused on one aspect or theme more than others. We get to see Taylor spend time with her family during their last summer together, but we also get to see her reignite her romance with her first boyfriend, Henry. I really liked the romance in this story and how naturally it played out. It never felt forced and I enjoyed how it developed from forgiveness to friendship to romance. I also really liked the friendship between Lucy and Taylor, and how they were able to move past what had happened 5 years ago. When I had first found out what had caused the fight between the two and why Taylor had run away from it, I thought that it was a little bit silly. But then I realised that that was the kind of thing 12 year olds fought about, and it didn’t seem so silly anymore.

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This was a truly wonderful summer read that’s full of heart. It has some beautifully executed elements and I thoroughly enjoyed Taylor’s coming of age story and the exploration of courage and forgiveness in friendships, and romantic and familial relationships. I don’t know what else I can say besides READ THIS.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing a review copy of the book!

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Jenna is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves to indulge in great books and great food. You can usually find me binge reading series, fangirling with fellow readers, devouring pastries, or binge watching Netflix shows. You can find me on Twitter @readwithjenna and on Instagram @readingwithjenna.

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53 responses to “Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson Review: BRB, crying right now

    • Me too! After finishing Second Chance Summer, I actually went and bought Amy & Roger's Epic Detour and two of her Katie Finn books! I just love her writing so much!

  1. I have this book on my tbr-list forever. Somehow it stayed buried under new releases all these years. Wonderful review, Jenna! And very convincing: “Second Chance Summer had the perfect balance of family, friendship, coming of age, romance and grief” – sounds so good. Thanks for reminding about this book.
    My recent post The reasons I don’t read ARCs

    • No worries at all! I'm glad I brought this to your attention again because it was an amazing book! If you love contemporaries, this is definitely a must-read because of that perfect blend of EVERYTHING.

    • Hahaha 'crying my eyes out' probably isn't even an exaggeration! My eyes were so red and puffy the next morning. But if you love getting a big case of the feels, you'll love this one!

  2. Yay for 5 stars! It's personally been a while since I've given one, but I've been wanting to grab another one of Morgan Matson's for a while now! Plus, the cover of The Unexpected Everything is so insanely pretty. It's sounding a little like 99 Days, but I'm glad it turned out so well. AND THAT COVER IS SO NICE OMG. Darling review!
    My recent post Review: Liars and Losers Like Us

    • All of Morgan Matson's books have been 5 star reads for me! And I'm definitely highly anticipating The Unexpected Everything as well. I haven't read the synopsis so I have no idea what it's about but… highly anticipating it anyway because it's Morgan Matson!

  3. birdslovewords

    I'm almost scared to read this one – I can see myself also ugly crying. It took me two months to finish the last 100 pages of John Green The Fault in Our Stars because I couldn't stop crying every couple of sentences.

    • Oh no! The Fault in Our Stars had such a long emotional part though. I feel like the whole last third of that book was just…SAD. This one has a sad ending but it's much shorter! You'll probably still ugly cry though 😀

  4. lekeishathebooknerd

    I've read great things about Matson's books. I'm really looking forward to trying this one and her upcoming, The Unexpected Everything. Just looking at this cover is warming me up. It's getting below 20 degrees here so I could use some Summer right about now.
    My recent post Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

    • You should definitely bust out this one and think summery thoughts! You'll probably feel a lot warmer just by reading this book 😀

  5. Bec

    I don't think I've ever heard a single bad thing about this book. And you've just showered so much more praise on it! I think I'm going to have to make an effort to check this out one day.

    • I loved My Life Next Door so much and I can definitely see the similarities! Both of these books have the most wonderful families and you're totally right about them both being light and fun, but also insanely emotional! (That picture was actually taken by Jeann… but nobody has to know that).

  6. This one has been on my TBR for ages but I can't seem to find the time to pick it up. Clearly, that needs to change soon! The characters and their development sound fantastic, not to mention the FEELS.

    • Yes! I would just put this one of the top of your list!!! It was truly wonderful and definitely one of my new favourite coming of age stories.

  7. danielleisbusyreading

    Lovely review, Jenna!
    I think I need to re-read this book because I felt emotionally distant during this story and that shouldn't have been the case at all! Taylor's scenes with her dad were my favorite (and god, those letters…) but I couldn't connect to HER very much. :/
    I'm glad you loved this one so much!

    • I definitely recommend giving this a second go, if you couldn't connect with it the first time! All of the scenes with Taylor and her dad throughout the book, going to get ice cream and having regular breakfasts together, were my favourite!! I hope you enjoy it more the second time around.

  8. *tears because it sounds so good*
    I think it's awesome that Matson explores Taylor's relationships after she runs away at age 12. Heck, that's a pretty awesome premise for a coming-of-age story. I'm definitely picking this one up (as well as Matson's others). Especially because Warren sounds like all the adorbs. 🙂

    • Yes! I loved the redemption arc and all of the second chances that she gets with her friends that she runs away from. I think you'll love this one because the characters are top notch! Especially Warren 😉 I loved him so much and he was HILARIOUS.

  9. Book Blather

    Taylor's older brother sounds like a lot of fun! I'm sorry this one made you cry, but I'm glad you could connect to this one emotionally – when that happens, you know you've picked a good book!

    • Taylor's brother was the most hilariously awkward character and he was so cute! Morgan Matson needs to write a companion about him!

  10. This is the one Morgan Matson book I've yet to read but so desperately want to. She is my go to summer contemporary author. I love a good coming of age story and Matson's books always have a good balance between the lighthearted and the serious issues. I love that this book focuses on several relationship dynamics; from friendship, to family and romance. I feel like I need to go pick up this book now, which I can't do because of my ban!
    My recent post Waiting on Wednesday: The Star-Touched Queen

    • Just end your ban right now HAHAHA. The only other one I've read is Since You've Been Gone and I think I might like Second Chance Summer a little more. It just had so many great relationships and the characters were wonderful!

    • Oh man, that last section of the book KILLED ME. As I was reading, I was thinking "oh this isn't too bad. It's pretty light and funny". But then *BAM*. Could not stop crying for like an hour.

  11. I'm so happy to hear you loved this one, Jenna! It's one of my favorite books by all time by a favorite author.
    Your review makes me want to re-read. I think I might pretty soon! 🙂
    I love what you had to say about Taylor's growth, because it's so true. The slow natural pace to it is what the book so realistic. I love how strong the focus on family was as well. And of course the romance! <3
    Lovely review, Jenna!
    My recent post Clarifications & Our Stand On Project #BloggerConfessions

    • I can totally see why this is a favourite of yours. I think I'll have to put it on my favourites list too! You should totally reread this, Nick. I already want to reread it 😀

  12. Aw *hugs* I hope you're ok now Jenna! I haven't read anything by Morgan Matson yet, but I own SYBG and A&RED so hopefully I'll be as touched by them as you were with Second Chance Summer 🙂 I'm always scared of cancer stories, because this has touched our family on multiple occasions and it's a hard thing to do justice to, but it looks like Taylor really grows throughout this painful experience. I, too, love when characters grow throughout the novel and it's really a journey, not a realisation. Yay for a great cast of characters! Hah! Warren sounds like a fun one, honestly, and whoooo for great sibling relationships! So, so glad you enjoyed it and YES! I'm totally putting this on my wishlist on TBD 😉 Lovely review!
    My recent post Review: Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers

    • I read SYBG last year and thought it was wonderful too! I hope you can get around to reading the two that you own and pick up Second Chance Summer too 😀 The characters were just amazing (Warren is hilarious) and just the dynamics and relationships between the characters… ITS PERFECT!

    • The only other one I've read is Since You've Been Gone, but I can't wait to binge read Amy & Roger and the Katie Finn books this year! And of course, The Unexpected Everything!

  13. aentee @ read at midnight

    I knew this was your review as soon as I saw the phrase 'had me curled up into a ball, crying my eyes out at 2am' XD JENNA, why do you do this to yourself?!
    It sounds very powerful and moving, though! I'll need to look into it when I'm feeling up to an emotional beat down.

    • LOL I'm the ultimate book cryer. Those 2am ugly cries are totally me XD. You should totally give this one a go this summer! It's the perfect summer read. The beginning was funny and light and adorable, but that last section was just *POW*.

  14. BumblingBookworm

    This book is one of my favourites, and Morgan Matson has become an auto-buy author for me. I still sob even now when rereading it, despite knowing how it ends, it's so well written in that way. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
    My recent post 2015 End of Year Book Survey!

    • I can't believe I haven't read this until now! I read Since You've Been Gone early last year and wanted to pick up her other books straight away… but as usual, never got the chance. I could reread this book over and over again!

  15. Awww Jenna I'm so happy that you enjoyed this book! It sounds wonderfully written and like a beautiful summer read <3

    • Me too! I just wanted to go out and spread love after I finished the book. I've loved everything of Morgan Matson's that I've read and can't wait to read some more.