Last month Lyn picked Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson, and together with Kara and Maryam, reviewed this sweet summer read. We had some delays, but we finally made it!
(Also, please remember that discussions sometimes lead to spoilers. While we try very hard to stay away from them, it still happens from time to time. If you haven’t read this book, be aware of potential spoilers during the discussion posts. You can’t say we didn’t warn you!)
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
on May 8th, 2012
Genres: contemporary, young adult
Buy on Amazon
From the Flying Start author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, a powerful novel about hope in the face of heartbreak.
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.
Lyn: So, was this a good pick for everyone this time around?
Kara: Yeah. I really, really loved this book to pieces. I was afraid it was going to be a difficult read for me due to the subject matter, and it was, but I still really enjoyed it. Even though I ended up crying in the fetal position, it was worth it and a very cathartic cry.
Maryam: I loooove it! And yes, I bawled horribly too.
Lyn: Fun note, I was at Kara’s house when I finished this, and I was sitting on the couch, trying my best not to cry. My chin shook and I had tears and everything. That ending was just a heart killer!
Kara: You should have just cried! No one would judge you here. I cry all the time when I finish books. Dan always looks over at me oddly but he is pretty trained by now. 😉
Maryam: HAHAHAH yes. OH this book was really heartbreaking, let me assure y’all. Everyone should just buy loads of tissues when they’re reading this book! And the part about family. AH, everything about family always tears me up emotionally.
Kara: Oh gosh. I didn’t even think about how hard this must be for you to read right now, Maryam. How insensitive of me! CHRIST. But you made it. I really hope it was cathartic for you too, maybe.
Lyn: I just now connected the dots. I really can’t even put myself in your place right now, Maryam.
Maryam: No no, don’t feel bad! It actually helped me, to read this book. Because like, it showed me that I wasn’t the only person to go through this thing, and like, it’s okay to sometimes pretend like everything is going to be okay! SO, IT’S FINE. I love this book hehe.
Kara: That’s true. It’s really difficult to deal with, but daily life has to go on even though it maybe feels like it shouldn’t? So it helps maybe to make someone feel like they are not being so selfish for just living when something like this is affecting your family. My grandma had cancer twice, and it was such a tough thing because we took care of her but you have to live and eat too.
Lyn: I hope that this doesn’t come across as privileged or tone deaf, but what made this book great was the realism. One of the things that pissed me off about The Fault in Our Stars is that it glorified cancer and made it seem like some magical experience. This book really showed the chain effect of what is does to the person who is living with it, and everyone around them. To me, it was a better tribute to those who fought cancer than TFioS. Maybe it is my age and my cynicism, but I was thankful for the realistic approach.
Maryam: Ooh, I never really thought about that, but yeah, I definitely agree. It showed us the effects that such an illness can have on other family members. And what I loved about this book was how connected this book was with its title. Second Chance Summer. It wasn’t just about romance. It was about getting a second chance at everything. Second chance at being a family. Second chance at making new friends, and second chance at having a life where one doesn’t need to run away often.
Kara: I haven’t read TFioS and I don’t plan to, but this is by far the best book about cancer that I have read. I agree with both of you. I do feel it was realistic, and it really worked for me because all the characters felt real, and the life issues felt real. This was my first Morgan Matson book, and it certainly won’t be my last. I have two other of her books sitting here, and I’m going to try to read them sometime soon.
Lyn: Certain, if she keeps giving us contemporaries that I actually enjoy. And while I am on the subject, I have to say that this book struck something inside of me. I was in awe that an author wrote about a girl like me. I saw a lot of myself in Taylor. I am horrible at conflict. I have a spine of Jell-O. And when I read about a girl who couldn’t face conflict and tough choices, it was uplifting to see a girl evolve and make it through her own battles. This really hit so close to home for me. I finally was able to read about a girl who wasn’t spunky and tough and could face down the world. I read about a girl who turned and ran. Just like me. And she made it through. It gave me a little bit of hope for myself, you know? Like I wasn’t the only weakling out there. That there is hope for me.
Maryam: This is a little bit personal, but what broke my heart the most in this book was that the author didn’t give up on Taylor. Taylor loves to run away. Like Lyn said, she could never face conflict and was always running away when things get hard. But the most important part was that she came back eventually. She didn’t run away permanently. Even during times when her dad’s condition got really bad, she could’ve left. She could’ve just deemed herself to be not strong enough to face it and walked away, but she didn’t. She stayed by her family’s side, and that resonated with me so badly that I probably cried non-stop.
Kara: Yeah, I completely understand why it would. Basically, I started tearing up at page ten and it got progressively worse all the way until the end. I loved how vivid some of the scenes were. The scenes when they were watching movies as a family. The scene at the end with the meteor shower. A lot of them just really stick out in my mind and it was just a very memorable and relatable book, especially for anyone that has ever had cancer touch their family. I wouldn’t recommend reading it until you are READY, however because it will make you emotional if you have any inkling of humanity.
Lyn: Even the author said not to read it if you had a recent loss! Also, side note here: Morgan Matson is a freaking sweetheart. I think it says a lot when an author is in touch with reality and is honest about her work. I gained a lot of respect for her after meeting her. And, like Kara said, the meteor scene. That was my breaking point.
Maryam: I hope to meet Morgan Matson one day, she sounds really amazing! And yes, I agree with Kara when she said that the scenes were quite vivid.
Kara: Morgan was awesome. Her and Brie Spangler were my most memorable author meetings at ALA. They were both super sweet. And yes, I just really loved Morgan’s writing. It’s well-balanced. Emotional, decent descriptions, without being bloated and overwritten. This is the kind of writing I like the most.
Maryam: Let me slot in here awhile, hehe. I just wanted to say that my favorite, most memorable quote in this book was this — “A thousand memories that I had just taken for granted-mostly because I had assumed there would be a thousand more.” When I read that line, I just thought that it was something that EVERYONE could relate to, because we do take advantage of memories, of people, thinking that we have all the time in the world. So, I think this book should be for everyone – those dealing with pain, and those who aren’t. Because we all sometimes need a reminder to treasure people more.
Kara: I loved that quote. It was one of the moments that made me break down. I do think everyone can relate to that in some way. But now as my parents are aging, as I am getting older myself, it resonated with me a lot because I need to continue NOT taking my memories and special moments for granted.
Lyn: Ratings? I gave it a 4 – I was a little put off by the romance, but the girl/girl friendship, the sweetness of a family knitting together, and the realism, no-holding-back writing made this book one of the best I have read. Also – PERFECT SUMMER READ!
Maryam: FIVE STARS FIVE STARS I love every single part of this book <3 I actually read it in one sitting, mainly from 8pm to 11pm, and I was just AHHHHH crying so bad that I went to sleep feeling tired xD
Kara: I gave it a 4.5. There were a couple of lines of dialogue that felt forced and the pacing was off in a couple places. I contemplated giving it a 5 because it affected me so emotionally, but I still have to rated it based on technical merit too.
Okay, I think we are done here. Join us next month for World War Z!!
Forgotten Friday Pick for July: World War Z by Max Brooks