Title: Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
*This was a buddy read with my lovely friend Kelly! 💙*
Lately, rather than reviewing every book individually, I’ve been writing mini-reviews for all the books I’ve finished during that month in my wrap-ups. However, I loved this one so much and I just needed to gush about it, so here’s my full review of it!
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.
Morgan Matson is officially one of my all-time favorite YA contemporary authors ever. I honestly thought I couldn’t enjoy any of her books more than I enjoyed Since You’ve Been Gone, but I loved this one just as much.
One thing that I wanted to mention was that this novel takes place in the Poconos. This personally meant a lot to me because, like the MC, Taylor, I spent many of my summers growing up in the Poconos in a very similar community. I could picture the setting, right down to the family’s house, so vividly. I’ve never read another book that mentioned the Poconos, let alone that is set there. Taylor even pointed out that most people have never heard of the Poconos (unless you’re from PA, NJ, NY, or maybe CT) which is so true and made me laugh, and I also apologize if that is the case for you and you have no clue what I’m talking about, haha. I promise though that this book was spectacular in general and I would have loved it just as much if it had taken place in another location, but I wanted to mention how special that was to me.
There’s something about Morgan’s writing that I love so much. In most cases, I wouldn’t like reading about characters living a normal life day after day. But there’s something about the way that Morgan writes that makes everything that happens to her characters feel so important. Her stories are so entertaining and hold my attention from start to finish.
I loved that this story focuses on Taylor and her family. I especially enjoyed reading her interactions with her dad. The family dynamics overall were so well-written and their relationships were so complex that this didn’t take away from the story for me at all, but sometimes reading about Taylor’s interactions with her family frustrated me. They lacked communication and almost never showed affection, and there were times when I just wanted to sit them down and force them to connect more, haha. One thing that really bothered me was how openly Taylor’s mother favored her younger sister. Taylor mentioned a few times that she felt as though she had put up barriers between her and her mom, but I definitely felt that her mom built those barriers through her favoritism.
While I appreciated that the focus of the story is family, I do wish I got to know just a bit more about Henry, the love interest. I can’t help but compare him to Frank Porter from SYBG, and while I thought Henry was sweet and likable and I really wanted him and Taylor to get together, I just felt like I knew so much more about Frank’s personality.
I honestly didn’t love Taylor’s best friend, Lucy, but this didn’t take away from the story for me either. She definitely had her moments of being a good friend, and it was clear how much Taylor loved her. I just thought that she was a bit shallow and personally couldn’t see myself being friends with her.
I thought the plot was amazing and that the pacing was absolutely perfect. I liked that we would occasionally have chapters about previous summers spent at Lake Phoenix, and felt that this built a lot of suspense towards finding out what happened between Taylor and her friends so many years ago. Also, as awful as it was to read, hearing about Taylor’s father’s health deteriorating made me feel the sense of grief and dread that Taylor was experiencing. As sad as this was, it shows how incredibly powerful Morgan’s writing is.
As for the ending, definitely don’t read it in public. I did and I ugly cried like a baby in Barnes & Noble, haha. People probably thought I was crazy, but boy did that ending break my heart. I thought it was so beautifully written and I couldn’t have asked for a more well-written conclusion to this wonderful story.
Overall, this book was just amazing. It’s cute and sad all at once, and beautifully written throughout. I would highly recommend it, especially if you love a good tear-jerker.
Have you read any of Morgan Matson’s books? What’s the last book that made you cry?