Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Before I get started with my SECOND CHANCE SUMMER review, I would like to wish a very Happy Book Birthday to the fabulous Cristin Terrill! ALL OUR YESTERDAYS hits the shelves today and I've heard so much amazing buzz about this book! I can't wait to read it! 

And now for my YA Book Club review of SECOND CHANCE SUMMER. Here's the amazon blurb…

Sandwiched between two exceptional siblings, Taylor Edwards never felt like she stood out—except for her history of running away when things get too complicated. Then her dad receives unexpected, terrible news, and the family makes the last-minute decision to spend the summer together in the cramped quarters at their old lake house.

Taylor hasn’t been to the summer house since she was twelve, and she definitely never planned on going back. Up at the lake she is confronted with people she thought she left behind, like her former best friend, Lucy, and Henry Crosby, her first crush, who’s all grown up…and a lot cuter. Suddenly Taylor is surrounded by memories she’d rather leave in the past—but she can’t run away this time.

As the days lying on the beach pass into nights gazing at the stars, Taylor realizes she has a second chance—with friends, with family, maybe even with love. But she knows that once the summer ends, there is no way to recapture what she stands to lose.

Don't you want to read it just based on that?!
I finished this story a few weeks ago, and this is what I initially had to say about it: And just when I didn't think my summer reading could get any better, I read SECOND CHANCE SUMMER (Morgan Matson). It's part of the YA Buccaneers Reading Mutiny this month and it’s also the YA Book Club read for August. I'll post a review on September 3 for YA Book Club and thank goodness because right now my review would probably look like this

Guys, if I could give this book 20 out of 5 goodreads stars, I would. BEST book I read all year.

I figured I needed a bit of distance from the book so that my review today would be a little calmer and not so exclamation pointy. Here goes…
Yeah. No chance of that. Here's what I LOVED about SECOND CHANCE SUMMER

1) A completely relatable and likeable main character. I connected with Taylor immediately (who hasn't felt like they wanted to run away from it all?!) and was definitely hooked when her father enters the scene a couple pages in. Their relationship is one of the best parts of the book, and I just loved and rooted hard for them from the first chapter.
2) Family dynamics. This family's not a close one. Older brother Warren's invested in his pre-law, younger sister Gelsey in her ballet. Taylor's trapped in the middle of these two extraordinaries—she's more laid back, more down-to-earth. More ordinary. Not so driven and focused. But because of a horrible situation, they are drawn together for one last trip to a place they last vacationed five years ago. And just like the blurb says, they grow closer because of it. I loved watching and experiencing every page of it.

3) Characters you get to know WELL, and everyone from Warren to the couple next door to Leland—even characters that enter mid-script or in the last hundred pages—they are so incredibly developed and have their own individual arcs and I just loved all of them.
4) So much emotion and feeling in every scene. Every page. I laughed. I got angry. I was embarrassed for Taylor when she made her first movie introduction. I think I may have clapped when she and Lucy make up. And yes—I cried. Just so you know—I  don't cry much with books. Movies, yes; books, not so much. And with this story, I teared up a lot. Swear, the swag for this book should have been KLEENEX.
5) The nuances—Warren's obsession with facts, Dad and Taylor's punny joke banter, the classic movies and records. The orange-and-white-scarfed stuffed penguin. EVERYTHING.
6) Well-placed flashbacks revealing what really went down with Taylor and Henry and Lucy that add so much to Taylor's compulsion to run away from things and to the story as a whole.
7) The setting: while the Poconos are a very real place, Matson's Phoenix Lake is not. Doesn't matter, because I felt like I was THERE. From Doggone It! to Borrowed Thyme to Devil's Dip to the beach, Matson's descriptions had me walking through woods and shivering in a concession stand and riding my bike up and down hills. Having grown up in Pennsylvania, I vacationed in the Poconos a few times—during the summer actually. And while I don't remember staying at a lake (we always took rides on the ski lifts and went down waterslides), it was a also a very welcome trip down memory lane.
8) Murphy. I can't discuss this book without talking about the mangy dog that greets the Edwards when they first arrive at their summer house and how effectively he played into the story. How Warren who, initially is as skittish around dogs as they are around him, grows attached to Murphy for um…well, you'll have to read to see why. How Murphy ties into Henry's back story. And how he attaches himself to Taylor's dad. LOVEABLE character (almost my favorite) and an incredible add to the story.
9) Henry—I think . . . nope, I've definitely fallen in love with stories about the good boy next door.
10) Romance? This story delivers. It’s more sweet than it is steamy, but oh so hot.

11) Finally, the story's awesome. It's extremely well-written with characters I loved and a story that touched my heart, and for all those reasons this book does sit atop with my other great reads this year, but what sets this one apart is that it touched my heart in a way no other book could. Thirteen years ago, I could very much identify with Taylor. Our Murphy was Pepper and while my father didn't have stage four pancreatic cancer, he did have old age disease. And I did grow very close to him that summer. To quote Matson and Dickens, it truly was the best of times and the worst of times.
Reading this book,  I cried. A LOT. Cathartic might be a bit of an understatement. But that just serves as testament to Publisher's Weekly's review of SECOND CHANCE SUMMER: "Beautiful and true."

Yes. Yes, it is.

If you read it, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you haven't read it, please do. And then pop around to all the other YA Book-clubbers to check out their reviews!


  1. I loved Murphy, too! The setting was so rich and real, I almost can't believe that Lake Phoenix isn't a real place. This was such a good read.

  2. This was pretty much everything I loved about this book too. Such a great book! I forgot to mention Murphy in my review, but I loved that little guy so much. Morgan Matson perfectly balanced the sad moments with sweet, making this pretty much the best book I've read all summer, maybe longer. So glad we all read it together! :-)

  3. Ooh I have been wanting to check this book out for a while. I love that it has relatable characters and a great romance. This looks like it will be right up my alley

    Thanks for the great review!

    Michelle @ Book Briefs

  4. I'm glad you loved it so much. Sadly, I didn't connect as well to with Taylor. I liked how well developed all the other characters were and I really liked her dad, siblings, Henry, and all the other side characters. I just didn't really like Taylor as a person. If I knew her in real life, she'd piss me off most of the time. So even though the story was well written and beautifully done, I had a harder time connecting. Maybe it's because running away is the opposite of my instinct in crisis. For whatever reason, Taylor's need to flee and lie to the people closest to her made me slightly less sympathetic. I did LOVE the dad though.

  5. I can't believe I forgot to mention Murphey in my review! I loved that little dog, and I thought it was so clever how Morgan Matson used him as a way to start tying Taylor's family back together.

    So, your write-up is pretty much my write-up. Everything you loved, I loved too. The nuances, especially stuck with me, as did the incredible dynamic between Taylor and her father. And I, too, had no problem relating to Taylor. Her personality flaws are so similar to mine -- I totally got why she did the things she did, even when I didn't agree with them.

    So, yes, brilliant review, Alison!

  6. Ah, Leland! I totally loved him, just from the few times he popped up. He was a nice dose of humor.

    And Murphy. I was seriously angry at the imaginary people who abandoned him. I actually went off about it to my husband :)

    The setting was fantastic, too. Pennsylvania is close enough to me that I felt like I was at home, in my own small town and trees.

  7. Amazing review. I'm adding this to my wish list right now.

  8. Can I just say ditto to every single thing you listed? Yes, the nuances. And the family! I'm happy you mentioned her brother because his story was so well crafted, too. I mean the change in him from the start of the summer to the end was awesome, and the relationship between him and Taylor? Awwww.

    Yes, Murphy. God I love that dog.

  9. Like Tracey, I just want to put ditto on your entire list. I've read this story last year and it's still on my mind! :)

  10. I have nothing to add. Nothing at all. Everything you said=perfect. Oh, this book!


Yay! I LOVE comments!