Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

11071466Taylor 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.   (From: Goodreads)

***Actual rating: 5/5 Hopeful Stars***

Henry just stared at me, and I looked back into his green eyes, feeling the sudden urge to break into hysterical laughter, because it was beginning to seem like I couldn’t turn around in Lake Phoenix without running into him.

Second Chance Summer is a book that’ll give you the courage you need when trying to stand up after falling; it’ll give you the strength you need when defeated by the God of Life; it’ll also give you the permission you need when following your heart.

Second Chance Summer is a story about starting over, moving on, giving and given second chances. It’s a book that’s going to worth your time reading and staying with you eventually.

Taylor and Henry were childhood-friends-turned-couples when they were 12, but their puppy love ended abruptly since Taylor had a habit of running away whenever things got too thorny and too complicated. The next time they met was 5 years later, at the same place, on the same dock. The difference was that this time, the girl knew her dad had numbered days on Earth and the guy learned how to let her know he’d always be there when she needed him.

And I’d gone to my closet, and returned with the stuffed penguin, settling him next to me on the pillow.

Taylor and Henry’s love story wasn’t typically romantic; it was filled with ups and downs in the respective lives, but what I absolutely admired and loved was how both of them–Taylor in particular–became more mature after all these years. The story was told in her perspective and I found myself almost the mirror of her. What I’m saying is that at many points in the story, I had the sudden recognition of my-younger-self because what she was feeling and dealing with were totally understandable for me. As if I was seeing my past through her eyes and then with the author’s words, I grew up with her somehow in the process.

For example, there are several times(too many to count, I must admit) when we might feel extremely embarrassed doing something awkward in front of someone we had a crush on long time ago, or in front of the entire class of 200 people, or out there in public where every waiting passenger could see, and then at that exact moment, all we want to do is curl into a ball and wish you could be invisible. Well, truth is, nobody really cares! People won’t specifically remember what you look like, what color your skirt is or what you just did. In contrast, it’s all because we pay too much attention to other’s feelings about us, what they think about us.

I busied myself straightening the cups, but it didn’t seem like the customers even noticed me–never mind remembered me as the girl who thoroughly messed up the movie’s introduction.

There are also times when we’re too scared to apologize for fear that others won’t give us a second chance or accept our apologies and grant us forgiveness. Again, truth is, how would you know that if you don’t even give it a try? The story taught me that no matter what other people would react when we say sorry or blurt out something without thinking twice, it was possible (and mostly true) that the outcome turned out to be a whole lot better than we initially expected.

It made me ashamed for thinking so little of Henry–feeling like he wouldn’t be willing to forgive me, just because that’s how I would have acted.

Last but definitely not least, I admit that I didn’t even expect this book would make me wail like a big baby because I literally thought it was just about Taylor coping with her own problems with friends and family. Sadly, I was so wrong. So, so wrong. The author didn’t fail to activate my long-numbed emotional functions in me (considering I just finished reading a super duper boring book) by the end of the story and I was both grateful and regretful. I’m grateful to have read this heartwarming story and been able to learn something in the meanwhile. On the contrary, I’m regretful for reading this because it totally WRECKED me EMOTIONALLY. Now I have serious puffy eyes that can barely open. Great.

Anyway, as the story came close to an end, and so did Robin’s(Tay’s dad) life. I personally liked how beautifully the author put that scene into descriptions and even though my tears were already streaming down my face before I read that specific part, I was not entirely sad about it. I mean, it was such a brilliant way to maneuver we readers’ emotion and feels.

But I noticed that as my grandfather went up, his posture so straight in his uniform, he put into the casket the figure he’d been whittling all week–a tiny carved robin, taking flight.

As a result, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book to everyone who enjoys reading contemporary fiction. Morgan Matson once again caught my undivided attention with her terrific skills of storytelling. So, let’s allow ourselves to be carried away by her magical words, shall we?


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