There’s nothing quite like finding the perfect summer read. When I’m curled up on the sofa on holiday after a long day of sightseeing and beach walks all I want is to get lost in a good book. Based on the cover Second Chance Summer seemed like the perfect choice and I was not disappointed one bit. This beautiful contemporary novel isn’t the light and fluffy kind but it is engrossing and poignant and one of the most moving stories I have ever read.
Morgan Matson has a straightforward and heartfelt writing style that makes it incredibly easy to connect with the story and with the characters. There is humour to be found amidst the more emotional, dramatic moments but the prevailing tone is far more bittersweet than some of her other works. It gave me ALL OF THE FEELS! This is reflected in just how deeply you find yourself caring about her characters. Taylor was an interesting protagonist; I connected with her and felt like I understood her need to run away from her problems, even if it was more of a hindrance than a help in practice. And I very much enjoyed reading about her journey as she learned to face things head on, open up and share her feelings with those around her.
I was surprised by the fact that for a YA contemporary this novel wasn’t romance heavy. It was more a story of family and therefore had much more of an impact on me, with the ending in particular leaving me reflecting on my relationships with my own parents long after I had finished reading it. What romance was there was well executed and I was rooting for Taylor and Henry to end up together. Their relationship progressed naturally, as did the friendship between Taylor and Lucy. The slow and steady build-up of trust between the two girls as they reconnected seemed very realistic. The flashbacks too really benefitted the story, serving to highlight how they had matured over the years.
One (very minor) qualm I had while reading was the need for the author to make a mystery out of the circumstances surrounding Taylor, Lucy and Henry’s falling out. The ‘big reveal’ wasn’t a surprise to me so I don’t understand why it was shrouded in secrecy for as long as it was.
I also feel that it is important to mention that this story dealt with some very heavy topics such as cancer and the death of a family member and, as you might expect, it did not have a happy ending. Hopeful, but not happy. Even though you know from the start that Taylor’s father is terminally ill in some chapters this could be incredibly tough to read about and I can imagine that it would be even worse for someone who is sensitive to such topics or, God forbid, has gone through anything like it themselves. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that this novel will send you through the emotional wringer, so be prepared for what you’re letting yourself in for because there will be tears galore.
Second Chance Summer was a truly incredible novel. I don’t usually find contemporaries make it into my favourites very often, yet now and again one will really stand out to me. This is definitely a five star book that I would certainly recommend to anyone who loves a good romance. But go careful because this is also a real tearjerker and could hit a bit close to home for some people. A future re-read I think!