Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Having gone several years without spending the summer at their lake house, Taylor’s family has slowly drifted apart after getting caught up in the everyday grind. Now with her father facing an aggressive cancer diagnosis, its his wish to return to their summer home once more. While Taylor clearly understands her father’s reasoning behind this decision it is something she is not looking forward to.
5 years earlier, Taylor left the lake on bad terms with the only friends she had there. She tries not to think about the poor decisions she made, but upon arrival is immediately confronted with all of her awful memories. While trying to patch things up with the people she has wronged and getting the hang of working her first summer job, Taylor constantly has her dad’s condition resting in the back of her mind.
Second Chance Summer is a story of redemption and making up for lost time, that constantly had me reaching for a new tissue. While Taylor’s time with her friends is important within the story, it is the familial interactions that had me coming back for more. I think this is my favorite depiction of family that I have read in a YA novel so far. The balance in the sweetness of watching Taylor’s family reconnect after so long mixed with the reality of the entire family watching their family patriarch’s declining health is utterly heartbreaking. I feel like most YA I read picks up after the tragedy has already struck and it is about the protagonist moving through grief and healing. Matson’s novel however, dives right into the gritty reality of sickness and packs a punch to readers’ emotions.