Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 8th, 2012
Pages: 468
Song I Played While Reading: Somebody Else by The 1975
Rating: 3.5 stars

Sandwiched between two exceptional siblings, Taylor Edwards never felt like she stood out- except for her history of running away when things get too complicated. Then her dad receives unexpected, terrible news, and the family makes the last-minute decision to spend the summer together in the cramped quarters at their old lake house.
Taylor hasn't been to the summer house since she was twelve, and she definitely never planned on going back. Up at the lake she is confronted with people she thought she left behind, like her former best friend Lucy, and Henry Crosby, her first crush, who's all grown up... and a lot cuter. Suddenly Taylor is surrounded by memories she'd rather leave in the past- but she can't run away this time.
As the days lying on the beach pass into nights gazing at the stars, Taylor realizes she has a second chance- with friends, with family, maybe even with love. But she knows that once the summer ends, there is no way to recapture what she stands to lose. 

I had a love/hate relationship with this book, mostly because of Taylor. I've only read one other book by Matson, Since You've Been Gone, and noticed some similarities between the main characters. Both started off quiet and shy, but progressively opened up more and became more confident as the book went on. I didn't mind it in Since You've Been Gone, because Emily had a goofy family and she could be super funny at some points. But I really struggled with Taylor. The first half of this book dragged. Taylor didn't speak up for herself and was a complete pushover, ran away from all of her problems instead of owning up to them, and could be super serious. I get her family was struggling with horrific news, but I swear she didn't smile for the first 100 pages. It was just so... blah. And what was worse was that her family was equally as boring. Beside her dad, who definitely had his moments in the beginning, none of them stood out as one of those secondary characters that steals the spotlight or lightens the mood or even just makes the book easier to read.
It wasn't until Taylor started owning up to her mistakes and coming out of her shell that the book became more enjoyable for me, which was similar to Emily in SYBG. She irritated the crap out of me in the beginning, but by the end of the book became someone that I really admired. After that point, this book became both a joy and a burden to read. That may sound weird, but if you've read it, you'll understand. I was excited for the ending but also dreading it so much because I could feel the pain. And let me tell you, MATSON DELIVERED THE PAIN. SHE DELIVERED IT HORRIFICALLY. I haven't hysterically cried that hard in a long time. Like full on ugly tears and sobs where I had to put the book down because I couldn't see or breathe. Her father gets diagnosed with terminal cancer and I seriously can't even think about it without tearing up. My dad and I are currently in this weird limbo, since I'm in California and he's back in Chicago, and I'm not exactly sure what's going on on his end, but we aren't talking right now. So this hit me hard, since, besides this current moment, we've had a fantastic relationship my whole life. Unintentionally putting myself in Taylor's situation had me crying so many times throughout Second Chance Summer. Not finishing this would've been a crime, since it felt like I owed it to Taylor and her dad to see it through to the end, no matter how horrible it was.
Now, onto a more happier topic: Henry and Lucy. I loved seeing the relationship dynamics, and thought the flashbacks were so adorable (though I thought the falling out with Lucy was so damn stupid), and just seeing them all making up, and Taylor getting her second chance, was so cute and heartwarming. I'm a sucker for a beach house story, and while this was near a Lake and not as fancy as an actual beach, it still had that lazy summer vibe that I adore. The writing was simplistic and beautiful, and Morgan wrapped everything up perfectly, even if did also knock me off my feet and force me into the fetal position in hysterics. Thank god no one was home to witness that! (Seriously. My mom would've probably sent me to a therapist if she'd witnessed it.)

"I knew that soon, the moment would be over- my mother and Warren and Gelsey would return home, brining with them noise and news and bustle. But for now, there was my father and me, and a moment I didn't try to preserve, but just let happen, as I sat next to him, listening to the song, as the record spun and the music played on."

"Looking at it, I got, for the first time, why people would bring flowers to sick people, stuck inside the hospital with no way to get outside. It was like bringing them a little bit of the world that was going on without them."

"But you have a heart that is big and beautiful and strong, and deserves to be shared with someone worthy. You get some perspective when you know you’re not going to get to flip a new month on the calendar. And I’ve realized that the Beatles got it wrong. Love isn’t all we need—love is all there is."

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