Book: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson, Audible, Inc, 2013
Book Info: Audible purchase, Running time: 10 hrs, 37 minutes. Performed by: Brittany Pressley. Also available in paperback or e-book, 480 pages from Simon & Schuster
So, this book. I loved Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and bought myself a copy of Morgan Matson’s next book Second Chance Summer upon its release in 2012. SCS came out actually just a few weeks before I lost my mom, so you may understand why I wasn’t in the mood to read a book about a dying parent right away. Though the cover and title are pretty, romantic and summery, looks can be deceiving because in fact the subject matter is mostly about coming to terms with death. I finally bit the bullet when I saw the audiobook on sale, and dare I say enjoyed this lovely Sarah Dessen-esque summer-themed story. Yes, it gets heavy at times and my stomach was all twisted in knots at the end, but ultimately I found this story very touching and not as scary as I expected it would be.
Taylor finds out on her 17th birthday that her dad has prostate cancer and only months to live. Her parents want the whole family to spend their (last) summer together in their house in the Pocono Mountains to bond and reconnect. They haven’t stayed in their summer home for five years, and Taylor left behind her first love, and her best friend, in not the best of circumstances. Now she has a second chance with her lost friends, and to get reacquainted with her family, and make peace with her father’s grim prognosis.
The book does have a summer feeling to it, with a very strong setting that makes you feel like you’re sitting on the dock with the characters. There’s barbeques, fireworks, movies on the beach, summer jobs, friends, romance, and lazy days. This is the kind of book you want to relax with on a hammock or poolside to get lost in.
SCS is told from Taylor’s POV, and she’s a middle child. Her dad calls her kid, and they bond over meals at the diner, black licorice, ice cream, puns, stray dogs, and movies. One of my favorite parts of the book is their time at the diner where Taylor uses the questions on the paper placemats as a prompt to get to know her dad a little better, and ask him everything she always wanted to know. They have a special relationship and this last summer is bittersweet.
I also liked seeing Taylor’s personal growth throughout the book. She starts out as someone who runs away at the first sign of trouble, and gradually becomes stronger, braver, and more mature as the book progresses.
Taylor’s romance with the boy next door is messy but sweet and enjoyable, though I would not really go into this book expecting a big epic romance. I liked reading the flashbacks to five years ago to put together the pieces of the puzzle of Taylor’s friendship with Lucy and Henry.
I listened to the audiobook of SCS, performed by Brittany Pressley. I liked her performance in Katie McGarry’s Dare You To, and think I liked her in this book even more. Pressley sounds age appropriate for this YA book, and gives each character his/her own voice without overdoing it. She reads at a good pace and gives a consistent performance. For a 480-page book, this almost 11-hour audiobook reads very quickly.
One thing I love about reading is that books like this exist so that someone who is going through this situation may find solace through the characters on the printed page. And I didn’t even cry, though I suspect that’s an atypical experience with this book. SCS is engaging and readable and an emotional read for contemporary fans. Can’t wait to read Matson’s next book, Since You’ve Been Gone. Oh, and Amy & Roger fans, look out for a blink or you’ll miss it cameo in chapter one of SCS!
I don’t have an audio sample to share, but here’s Morgan Matson talking about Second Chance Summer: