Thursday, May 17, 2012

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson Review

Second Chance SummerSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads: Taylor’s family might not be the closest-knit – everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled – but for the most part, they get along fine. Then they get news that changes everything: Her father has pancreatic cancer, and it’s stage four – meaning that there is basically nothing to be done. Her parents decide that the family will spend his last months together at their old summerhouse 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 summer best friend is suddenly around, as is her first boyfriend. . . and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses, the Edwards become more of a family, and closer than they’ve ever been before. But all of them very aware 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.

My thoughts: I'm really struggling between giving this book 4 or 5 stars. Really, the only thing that stops me from giving it a full-on 5 star rating is the juvenile grudge. That said, it's been a long time since I was 12 years old and nearly as long since I was 17. The story hints about some long ago situation where Taylor did something that hurt both Henry and Lucy. What she did was definitely relevant to the story. How she handled it at the age of 17 was relevant to the story. How Henry and Lucy handled it, the first time seeing her since it happened, developed their characters. The actual event is anti-climactic and is not revealed until far into the book. However, more background is also revealed of what Henry's 12th summer included which clearly exacerbated his reaction.

Confused? Bored with my analysis? Okay, I'll spice it up a bit. What I loved about the story is my own visceral reaction to it. I rarely cry over a book or movie. I surprised myself by watching a tear plop on my bedspread. What I've described is the basic teenage angst. I know. Been there. Done that. But as the book description indicates, the summer in the mountains is the last one for the family as a whole unit. The father, Rob, is dying of pancreatic cancer. Ironically, my own first boyfriend, the one I met on vacation and continued to meet every summer on vacation, grew up to a successful lawyer, married the proverbial girl next door, had four children and then was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The author chose a cancer that has a nearly zero survival rate. The reader is duly warned by the kind of cancer and the stage. (view spoiler)[I wasn't surprised by the outcome but surprised by the description of the stages of dying. It takes only a few pages and is not THE central part of the book, but the accuracy of it really hurt my heart. Taylor's father's death is relevant and necessary to complete Taylor's story and for her to face her own demons. It is one of the best young adult books I've read on grieving, death and loss. (hide spoiler)]

This is the second book I have read by this author. The first one had me giggling in pleasure and glee. It was so fun, upbeat, and such an enjoyable journey that I was surprised she could write another book so vastly different yet with amazing skill. The scenes are well orchestrated, characters quickly developed, relationships understood then change with natural transitions. Very, very well written.

*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

1 comment:

Kim said...

This one sounds like one I could get into, even though I don't like to cry with a book, either.

With the diagnosis, it's a foregone conclusion about dad - but I'd be interested in how the friends and family re-connect for their final summer together.