REVIEW #136: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Title: Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Pages: 468, Hardcover
Source: Library

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.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

There are so many things going on in this book. The last time Taylor was at her lake house in the Poconos was when she was 12. But given her bad habit of running away when things got hard, she left the two people she cared for most behind and hurt, suddenly and with no explanation. She never expected to go back and have to deal with the consequences of her choices. And she has almost succeeded in forgetting abotu them. But 5 years later, the Edwards family has returned and this time Taylor can't run away. And they come back into her life by storm.

Henry and Lucy are less than thrilled to see Taylor and she struggles to give them the apology they deserve. She's more cowardly than she cares to admit. But once she works up the courage to say what needs to be said, she starts on the long road to mending the two friendships that meant so much to her five summers ago. And with Henry, she rekindles a romance that never really escaped her. 

I really enjoyed Henry and Lucy as secondary characters. They weren't given too much of their own story but their connection with Taylor was palpable. Both relationships were sweet and comforting and enduring. 

But the real heart and soul of this book lies in the story of Taylor's father. 

Taylor's father has been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and only has a few months to live. Taylor doesn't know how to cope with losing her father or the dramatic changes she sees in him as his illness progresses. And since her family has grown apart over the years, she doesn't know where or how to find comfort. She feels more alone and lost than ever. 

But slowly her family comes together and learns to lean on each other for support. And Taylor makes the most of the time she has left with her father, appreciating the moments they share. The moments she once took advantage of.

Her father has such a strong presence in this book. I loved everything about their relationship and the final summer they spent together (well obviously except for the ending). I could feel how previous these moments were to them and I cherished reading them. I easily cried when the end came. Oh, and I loveed the pun jokes that they shared. It was such a joyful addition to the story.

But Taylor is conflicted because she feels like she should be focusing on her father and her family, not galivanting about with Henry and Lucy, worrying over matters that are trivial in comparrison to his illness. She struggles to let anyone close and to trust in herself and her heart.
We see so much change in Taylor over the course of this book. At the start she is timid and guarded, but by the end she is braver and more open. I really admired her personal growth. But I didn't connect with her that strongly. I didn't see myself in her and I don't believe that I myself would make some of the same decisions she did. That is ultimately the reason why I gave this book 4.5 and not 5 stars.

The writing is just so beautiful. Everything about this story felt so honest and real and personal. I think everyone can connect to it on some level.

Second Chance Summer is a heartwarming and heartbreaking journey. 



  1. OMG, this book sounds like such a tear jerker. I know I would bawl my eyes out, there is no question. So basically what I'm saying is that your review was great and when I feel like I need a good cry I'll pick this one up!

    1. YAYAY I know you'll love it! I think everybody has!

  2. i loved this book, too. it was beautifully written & i agree that i really didn't connect with Taylor, i liked understanding where she was coming from. i cried, too, at the end. i lost both my aunts to pancreatic cancer, but i think it was more about the relationship she had with her father and the heartbreaking idea of having to watch someone die. ~daphne

    1. Agreed. Losing anyone you love is hard. Especially knowing its coming. It broke my heart. But the relationship she had with her father, especially in the end was beautiful. So many things about this book were beautiful.

  3. This book sounds like it will make me cry. But since you say it is beautifully written and focuses on family and friendship I think I'll have to read it. You seem to be reading a lot of emotional reads lately. That was just an observation that I'm not sure why I pointed out.

    1. Hahaha It's funny you say that Kay because I was also just thinking that I've been reading a lot of heavy contemporary. I never usually read this much contemporary, especially back to back. I think it's the summer? Or Timing? idk.

      But yes, if you want an emotional read, this is a good choice!

  4. This book had me sobbing towards the last few chapters! Matson's ability to weave a beautiful story like this is just truly WONDERFUL, and this book absolutely cemented my love for her.

    1. I really need to read Amy and Roger's Epic Detour! I can tell Matson has a knack for writing so I'm excited to keep reading her work.

  5. It sounds like a beautiful story. I'm so happy I read your review because I haven't heard of this before. Thanks for your honest thoughts!

    1. Yay then I am glad to have helped you discover it! I hope you read it and love it!


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