Taylor is unremarkable. Her older brother, Warren, got a perfect score on the SATs and is already preparing for a career as a lawyer while her younger sister, Gelsey, is on her way to becoming a child prodigy in ballet. Partly due to their busy schedules, Taylor’s family has become distant. But when her father is diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, they pack up for one last family summer at the lake house. If Taylor’s willing to stop running away from her problems, this summer could be full of second chances.
Get ready for the feels, guys. Because this book has lots of feels. I really, really loved this book. It’s the second book that I’ve read by Morgan Matson (the first being Since You’ve Been Gone). Matson does a great job of writing summery books. Since You’ve Been Gone also had the distinct summer feel, but the thing that I loved about Second Chance Summer is that there was more depth to it. You could really see the relationships between Taylor and the rest of her family members grow as the book goes on. I loved, loved, LOVED, seeing the developing relationship between her and her dad. In some ways, I feel I can really relate. Growing up, my family wasn’t very close either. Like Taylor’s family, we weren’t big on showing or expressing affection towards each other. It was kind of just something that was known, but not said. So as I was reading this book, I could really put myself in Taylor’s shoes. I could understand why she had a hard time talking with her family about her father’s illness and I for sure understood her hesitation to tell her father that she loved him.
This book doesn’t have much of a plot, but I didn’t find that I minded. I think anything else going on beyond what was included in the book would have been too much. Even though Taylor is the narrator, I feel that the focus isn’t really on her. Instead, Matson is focusing on relationships and how they can change. This book doesn’t NEED a driving plot because this book isn’t about what happens, but rather how it happens, why it happens, and how the characters will choose to react to what happens.
Speaking of characters…what a cast! Taylor is relatable. She’s unsure of herself–especially being sandwiched between two exceptional siblings–but not to the point where she’s annoying about it. Warren and Gelsey are both quirky and act like you’d think siblings would act. I thought Henry was a little too perfect, but I was okay with it. Like I said earlier, any additional conflict would have been too much for the story. So I understand why Henry didn’t really have any flaws. I really liked the feel of the family as a whole. They’re far from perfect. They’re just this imperfect family dealing with this really hard situation. Their reactions and emotions feel real and legitimate. There were times when the book just felt so raw. I couldn’t help but wonder how it would feel to be put in Taylor’s position or her mom’s position.
This book is great. Make sure you have a box of tissues handy, though. The last scene between Taylor and her dad was so perfect and beautifully written. I get teary-eyed just thinking about it… Read this book, guys. READ IT.
Overall Rating: 5
Sexual Content: Mild