Second Chance Summer, by Morgan Matson
Published: May 2012, by Simon and Schuster
Length: 480 pages
Genre: YA, Contemporary
My Rating: 5 Stars!
Now that it's officially summer, and the weather in Britain is, well, a little less damp than winter, I thought a summery romance was in order! And it was very much appreciated to warm up the miserable summer we've currently been having!!
Taylor Edwards' family isn't the most close-knit family to say the least. With everyone busy with their own schedules, there is little time left to spend as a family, but when Taylor's dad gets some devastating news from which he may not recover, the family decide to spend their last summer together in their old lake-house, where they used to share happy memories. However, it's not just family-time they end up with from their getaway, as the old-lake house uncovers and disrupts memories of love and friendship that had long been avoided, and Taylor is forced to recognise what she once left behind at the Lake House.
But with the progression of the summer, the Edwards family become both more of a family, and even more aware of the ticking clock amongst them.
I read Morgan Matson's Since You've Been Gone last summer, and I actually wasn't as impressed as I had hoped to be; I didn't think it quite lived up to the hype surrounding it. This made me a little reluctant to go into Second Chance Summer as I didn't really want it to do the same.
Ahh but I was wrong!
I absolutely loved every single page of this book. I couldn't have been more impressed and surprised, as despite my initially low expectations, I grew to love each and every one of the characters.
The 'back-stories' revealed in Second Chance Summer were touching and heart-breaking in the best ways possible. Finding out about Taylor's life before the 'present-day' was really interesting and I loved finding out how much she had changed since then. I completely adore books that show a great deal of character development, but these are generally spread over a longer series, so it was enlightening to discover a standalone novel with as much character development as some series. It was really heart-warming!
I also loved the character development in the other characters, such as Henry and Lucy, since everyone really came a long way from how they acted at the start of the novel, which was touching to see.
I especially loved reading about Taylor's brother, Warren, and his difficulties and awkwardness with his girlfriend - he was hilarious!
There has actually been quite a bit of criticism around Matson's books saying that her characters are "boringly ordinary" and "unimaginative", but if I'm completely honest, that's why I love them. I'll admit, I adore reading about fierce, strong-willed, adventurous characters in novels as it inspires me to have their traits, however, I enjoy reading about "ordinary" characters in books as it shows the reader that they don't have to be supernatural to be the hero or heroine of their own story. All of Matson's characters do have their quirks and flaws, but so does everybody and this is why they're all so relatable. You can't help but relate yourself to those characters and put yourself in their positions, which is why they are just so lovable.
Despite me giving Second Chance Summer a full 5 stars, that does not mean that I thought it was completely perfect. For me, this book wasn't flawed in many ways at all, but one thing that I did notice, which I had also noticed while reading Since You've Been Gone, was the character descriptions, or lack of thereof. Of course, there were character descriptions in there, but I didn't really notice many of them, which made it quite difficult for me to visualise each character. I feel that the character descriptions were only at the start of the novel, but these were not reinforced throughout the novel. So, while the mental states of the characters were described really well, I thought there was a slight lack of the physical descriptions.
However, I do feel that this was the only issue I had with Second Chance Summer. I absolutely loved Matson's style of writing throughout the course of the novel. It made for quite an easy and really enjoyable read, which I loved! There were a few surprises and twists and turns in the plot of the novel, some of which I found to be a little predictable, but I loved the direction this book took; it was a really rewarding read and gave off so many cute and summery vibes!
Second Chance Summer surprised me in many, many ways, but the most surprising aspect to me was how sad it was. When I went into this book, I was expecting a cute, summer romancey book that would make me happy for the time I was reading it but that wouldn't particularly leave a lasting impression on me. I was not expecting to be sobbing my heart out as quietly as possible in the middle of the night.
Hundreds have books have made me cry - it doesn't really take much to get the tears flowing - but there aren't all that many books that have had me properly sobbing, and by sobbing, I mean the disgusting type where there are millions of tears and your nose starts running and you're hiccoughing and you can't breathe or even tell the difference between your tears and your, erm, 'nose fluids'. But that was the reaction I had to Second Chance Summer! It was not my most glamorous moment, I must say!
I would honestly be amazed if anyone was able to read this book and not cry. If you have read this book and did not cry, I can only assume that you are a robot!!
So if you haven't yet read this book and are thinking about giving it a go, I do warn you, be prepared for many emotions!!
Second Chance Summer was a novel that left me satisfied in so many ways.
I loved the progression of the story and how it evolved from cute and summery to deep, meaningful and moving. I loved each and every one of the characters and how they helped the story itself to progress, and I loved how realistic and relatable everything was.
It was just a lovely, refreshing novel and I would highly recommend it! In terms of suitability, Second Chance Summer would probably be an appropriate read for anyone over the age of 13, since it is a young adult novel, but still does deal with some more mature themes that require a slightly older audience. Nevertheless, I think pretty much everybody would be able to read this book and relate or be able to take something away from it, so I don't think the Young Adult genre should prevent it from being enjoyed by an older audience too.
As for me, Second Chance Summer restored my faith in both original and heart-warming romances, and Morgan Matson's story-telling! After this book, I went on to read and adore Matson's new book, The Unexpected Everything, and I can say that I will definitely be reading any future books that are published. I also think I need to read Matson's debut novel, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, as if it's anything similar to Second Chance Summer I'm sure that I will love it!
I hope you have enjoyed this review and I will be back with another one soon!
Have you read Second Chance Summer? I'd love to know your thoughts on it!