Jennifer Pickrell

YA Writer

YA Book Club: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

14 Comments

Book Club Buttonsecond chance summer cover(description from Goodreads)(join the book discussion on Tracey’s blog)

Taylor 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.

I’ve read books before where characters are grieving a lost loved one or where they are dealing with a devastating illness themselves, but I can’t think of many that explore the pain of watching someone you love – your big, strong father, no less – dying and knowing there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

In all the medical dramas I’d ever seen, there was always some solution, some last-minute, miraculously undiscovered remedy. Nobody ever just gave up on a patient. But it seemed like in real life, they did. (24)

This could have been a complete downer of a book, but the characters were so well rounded that I was just as caught up in what was going on with Taylor’s brother and sister as I was with her. I felt like I knew them, with all their little quirks and irritating habits. I wanted them to have one last, perfect summer.

I smiled at that, and we sat there as it got darker and darker outside, me and my father, listening to the music he’d loved when he was my age. I knew that soon, the moment would be over – my mother and Warren and Gelsey would return home, bringing with them noise and news and bustle. But for now, there was my father and me, and a moment that I didn’t try to preserve, but just let happen, as I sat next to him, listening to the song, as the record spun and the music played on. (375)

Oh, and the way Taylor and Lucy separated their Skittles by color when they were younger? My childhood BFF and I used to do that, too.

This book wasn’t just about dying and grief and second chances, it was also a girl discovering that her parents are just people, as vulnerable and fallible as everyone else.

This, frankly, was a lot more frightening than the yelling. Seeing my mother sad, vulnerable, scared – it was too much for me…(381)

That realization is something that I, even in my 30s, have a hard time accepting. I want to believe that my mom and dad are indestructible superheroes who will live to be a million years old (and please don’t ever tell me otherwise).

Even days later, I still have a hollow spot in my chest from this book because this family was so…I don’t want to say “ordinary,” but they were like people we all know, making bad puns, dancing around with sparklers in the yard, and walking the dog. Their realness made the story all the more impactful.

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Author: Jennifer Pickrell

I write YA contemporary filled w/ romance, angst & family drama. Currently in the query trenches. My faves include: cats, snacks & green tea.

14 thoughts on “YA Book Club: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

  1. The Edwardeses were such a real family, and I miss them, now that I finished the book. I loved how the changes they made over the course of the summer were small and realistic–and all the more meaningful. (And I loved the Skittles detail, too)

  2. Agreed! To everything about this! Especially this: “I felt like I knew them, with all their little quirks and irritating habits.” I think that’s one of the things that made this book so real to me. All the layers. SUCH A GOOD BOOK!!! Glad you liked it too! And great review!

  3. “Their realness made the story all the more impactful.” You are so right about this and everything else you’ve said about the book. All of the little details you mention and so many more make them feel like a family who could be living next door. I’ve been thinking a lot about this story since finishing it last week, and I suspect a lot of that has to do with how genuine they felt (feel) to me.

  4. I loved the family relationships in this book and agree that stories about watching a loved one die are rare and this one was definitely powerful. The small snippets you pulled out portray the emotion of the story really well.

  5. I love the quotes you included, Jen. They’re perfect examples of why this book and its characters felt so real to me. Nobody is perfect, and there are no easy answers, and even though that’s really hard, it’s also life. I also loved the “little” things about this story, like the Skittles, that gave such a clear picture of who the Taylor and her friends and family were. This one was everything I love about character-driven contemporary YA.

  6. I love the excerpts you posted. Totally makes me want to read this one! Thank you.

  7. What a perfect review. I expected the book to be a downer, hesitated on it for so long because of that, so I was surprised at how uplifting it felt at the same time. And I too felt like the entire cast of characters had their own stories in this one book. Yes, it was Taylor’s story, but the transformations in her family members, her friends, was so wonderful.

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