Published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing on May 8th 2012
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.
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.
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
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing a review copy of the book!