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Second Chance Summer Hardcover – May 8, 2012
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*"Matson has blended romance, humor, teen angst, boring summer jobs, and a truly tragic event into a wonderfully readable story, told in a manner that trusts teens’ intelligence. Jenny Han’s and Sarah Dessen’s fans will gobble this up."--SLJ, starred review
"Warning: tissues recommended."--The Boston Globe
“The exploration of the father-daughter relationship is warm, sensitive, and heartbreaking, with Taylor realizing how much she counts on the man she’s going to lose. Between the dreamy romance and the four-hankie family story, this is a satisfyingly emotional summer tale.” --BCCB
*"Matson writes subtly about complex family dynamics, grief, and the impending loss of a parent in a way that is both beautiful and true...Readers who love the work of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han will feel intensely for this cast of vulnerable characters who demonstrate integrity, personality, and perseverance as they work to bridge the distances between them."
--Publishers Weekly, starred review
"[Second Chance Summer] is a sweet, well written coming-of-age book that pulls at the reader’s heartstrings...This is a compelling story that reads fast and grips readers until the very end."
*"This is a bittersweet, powerful tale of family devotion, the sustainability of true friendship, and the silent courage of loving someone enough to stay and watch them die."
---Booklist, starred review
About the Author
Morgan Matson received her MFA in Writing for Children from the New School. She was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start author for her first book, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. Amy & Roger was also recognized as an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults in 2011. She currently lives in Los Angeles. Visit her at morganmatson.com.
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This Young Adult book by Morgan Matson is one that will put you through the ringer. I had to get up and give my Dad a hug & tell him I love him after this.
SCS is a summer set story revolving around a family that is taking their summer up to an old family lake house that they used to visit each year until about 5 years ago. But it all has a hidden, sad reason behind it. The dad wants the whole family to spend that summer up there because it is possibly his last summer at all. Of course, Taylor, our main character, is a little apprehensive to return since she didn't exactly leave on good terms. She also has a strong habit of running away from her problems. She is a poor public speaker and has a tendancy that reminds me of Emma Swan, running when things get too real or confrontational.
So as you can probably guess, this summer is going to be all about Second Chances for Taylor as well as a huge growing summer for her entire family. Throw in some part time jobs, some puntastic shops, and a great host of side characters including Matson's dog Murphy, and you have a heartwarming story that will make you laugh, smile, and cry all within a few pages of each other.
I absolutely loved every moment of this story. It's something that will touch your heart with something warm. IT will also make you want to call up your Dad and tell him you love him. Which is not a bad thing.
From the first page, I knew Second Chance Summer would be a book that I loved. Matson's writing style is so poetic, so beautiful. I would read 50 pages and make myself stop, trying to make the book last longer. Finally after doing that a few times I gave up, reading for hours, thankful that the book was nearly 500 pages long.
Taylor is back at her beach house after not being there for several years in a row. Her father has cancer and wants them to spend a summer there like they used to do. When she arrives, we learn that the last summer she was here, things didn't exactly go smoothly.
As Taylor tries to piece together what she left at the beach when she was 12, she is also trying to deal with her family and the drastic changes that will be happening. Instead of feeling pity for the characters, I was enveloped in how real it all felt, rooting for them to find peace and resolution.
I don't often cry while reading, and the end of this book hit me very hard, hard enough that I couldn't read through my tears. This is a direct attestation to how well Morgan Matson built up the story and how well developed her characters were.
Now I begin my two year wait for her next book.
When I saw she'd come out with Second Chance Summer I immediately clicked "buy," *barely* checking the price (but of course I did) and yeah, loved it. Continue to love the author's imagination, her research, her thorough fleshing out of characters, her writing style, how clever she clearly is.
I am a nitpicker (almost) nonpareil, and I am one of those who gets really ticked off by errors in books, and in my reviews I am never shy about calling an author out for it. If I am expected to spend time and money on a book then I expect the author to do likewise.
Well, how much I loved Second Chance Summer is that the few errors I found didn't even tick me off! For me that's saying something. That's saying how marvelous the story is, how much I wanted to stay in the story, inside Taylor's head and her summer.
Taylor is our protagonist, a newly-minted seventeen year-old who, along with her older brother, Warren (shortly off to Penn for his freshman year), and younger sister, Gelsey (yes, after Gelsey Kirkland), learn on Taylor's birthday that their father has Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Kinda sucks all around. Their father wants them to spend his last summer at their lake house in the Poconos; they used to spend every summer there, but as the children got older and their interests both focused and diverged, the family stopped making the summer pilgrimage five years earlier.
That was a pivotal summer for Taylor: she was twelve, had her first boyfriend and her first kiss (same person, Henry), and lost her best friend, Lucy, in something deeply embarrassing to Taylor.
Taylor is a middle child and suffers from middle child syndrome, feeling invisible, not as special, as interesting, etc. But dealing with her father's terminal illness and returning to "the scene of the crime" (so to speak) make her come to terms with her demons as well as face growing up.
Because most of the residents of this wee lakeside town are summer residents, when they return each summer they pick up where they left off. The friends, Henry and Lucy, wronged by Taylor have neither forgotten nor forgiven her. She is embarrassed and wants to practice her fine-tuned m.o. of running away. But given that the town is so small, that Henry is her next-door neighbor and works in the town bakery and that Lucy is her colleague in the beach snack shop, Taylor can't escape them. They don't go out of their way to torture her or anything, but the fact that they know the truth about her is its own form of torture.
I was so proud of both Taylor and how she matures and also of the author and how she so realistically paints Taylor: her "flaws" make perfect sense (but not tied up in a neat little bow), Taylor makes perfect sense.
Taylor's interactions with everyone in her life, from Henry and Lucy to her siblings (who also felt complete) to their parents, all made sense. I was never once thrown out of the story thinking "what just happened?" Well, that's not true: in the first chapter when the author mentions Amy Curry and alludes to Roger (by his Colorado College sweatshirt) -- and these are the titular Amy and Roger of Amy & Roger's -- I was thrown. Because Amy and Roger have NOTHING to do with Taylor or her story, but whatever.
Taylor gets to know herself, her siblings, her parents and her family dynamic that summer. She knows she is saying goodbye to her father and hello to herself, hopefully to a more accepting, open self. Like real life, even when you know a death is coming and coming shortly, even when you've said what you need to say, the event itself still knocks the wind right out of you. So too when Taylor's father succumbs. Your heart breaks for Taylor and her family, for what was and what will not. I teared up profusely and one of my children came over to give me a cuddle.
However, you're left feeling hopeful for Taylor. Her father was "her" parent, meaning of the two, she was closer to him than her mother. But we get to see that Taylor and her mother do see each other and do connect, different from the connection she had with her daddy, but just as real and just as valuable. Taylor does learn how to forgive herself and ask for forgiveness in others. She grows and we care for her all the more.
Just a wonderful story, wonderfully written.
Most recent customer reviews
Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars
Morgan Matson is probably the queen of summer books.Read more