Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
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.
Okay I finished this book less than two minutes ago and am making sure to write this review immeditely. Holy shit. Morgan Matson. Why and how are you so good? I don’t think I can express how much I loved this story. It was so many different things, all amazing and sad and happy at the same time. This is most likely not going to be a very long review because I kind of just only want to sit here and cry. Very few books have actually made me cry out loud, but this book was one of them. OKAY so Taylor and her family head to their lake house, where they haven’t been in five years, because their father only has a few months left to live. Their relationships at the beginning of the book are so strained and everyone is totally separate from one another. Watching their family grow and develop over the summer was just so perfect. Instead of a nice slow burn romance, this was a slow burn family-rekindling. Meanwhile, Taylor is faced with all of the people she left behind five summers earlier. This included her best friend Lucy and boyfriend Henry. Taylor has to make amends for what she did to them when she left. It was nice to see that those aspects were vital to the story, but still felt more in the background. Above everything else, this book was about family. I’m tempted to text my dad that I love him right now just because I’m grateful that I have him. I love that the story was set almost exclusively during that summer; it flashes sometimes to the past but only to give enough background information. Otherwise we really don’t know too much about their lives outside of Lake Phoenix, which I really liked. The book is about their life there and Matson does this so ridiculously effectively. Normally I like to know every detail about the characters that I can, but this book showed a fresh start for the whole family and for the readers. You didn’t need to know anything else. (Wow, this is longer than I thought I could write about this book!)
A thousand moments that I had just taken for granted— mostly because I had assumed that there would be a thousand more. (p. 368)
- Taylor was such a real character. I felt like I knew her without even knowing everything about her. She adjusted back into her old life slowly and at times I wanted to shake her into reality, but overall I think she coped with everything like I would have. She focused on what was important during the summer and stayed as calm as she could. It was nice to see her break out of that towards the end as she realized she was allowed to show emotion about everything that was happening.
- Lucy was Taylor’s best friend before she left. The two start off very rocky because of their past, but their friendship grows throughout the summer too. The last time they saw each other was five years earlier, and it was nice to see how they both grew up from their earlier days. I related a lot to that since I moved away in fifth grade and rarely see my old friends; it’s always a different feeling when I learn what they’re up to these days. Lucy was a good friend to Taylor and it was nice that their friendship was important but didn’t overshadow the book’s real purpose.
- Henry, Taylor’s first boyfriend, has moved back to Lake Phoenix permanently and is not very pleased to see Taylor right away. I loved that his relationship with Taylor, like Lucy’s, also didn’t overshadow the main issues in Taylor’s family. In books where there is a bit of “romance” coupled with family drama, the important family stuff can take a backseat. Again, it was good to see that the focus was not on her relationship with him.
- Taylor’s family members were all coping with the impending loss of the father figure. Her brother, Warren, was a very cool character to watch. I love that he was super smart and addicted to telling facts about how things originated. It was nice to see him break out of his shell. Gelsey, her sister, was a dancer with a preteen attitude. I loved her whole family and it was nice to see them all come together when it really mattered.
I feel like Morgan Matson is just perfect. I don’t know what else to say. She does such an amazing job with her novels and I can’t wait to read every single one of them. The book stretched on throughout the whole summer, which was nice, and developed everything slowly. I found myself struggling to read it only because I was so busy this month.. it sucks because I know I could have easily finished this within a day if I really had the time. So, those of you who were creeping on Goodreads, just know that I really was only able to sit down to read this one for small time increments. My slow pace for the book does not reflect how perfect it is!!!
Everyone on earth. Everyone with a family. Everyone who has lost a parent or will unfortunately someday lose a parent. Everyone who has wanted a second chance in their life. Everyone whose had a first love. Everyone who has lost a friend. Everyone who has lost anyone. Everyone who likes Morgan Matson. Everyone who likes YA. Everyone who likes perfect books. Everyone. Everyone. EVERYONE!
Jeez I can’t really think of anything negative. Not even something a little tiny wrong with it. Morgan Matson is a goddess who makes me laugh and cry and appreciate every little thing I have in my life. This book quickly made it into my favorites list. I’ll leave you with some tweets: