Seeing it was a book about death and summer and a ton of people loved it... I definitely wanted to read it. It was one of my WoW a while back, too!
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 liked this book, but it wasn’t my favourite for numerous reasons. I failed to connect with any of the characters despite some lovely manipulated prose that made me very teary at parts, and I never really liked our protagonist, Taylor (ugh, that's harsh). Throughout the first half of the book, she hints at this “big thing” she did when she was twelve that made people hate her, and honestly, when the big reveal came around, it was hugely underwhelming. It was annoying, I don’t like it when things are built up to be nothing.
Also, there are numerous sideplots but I felt they all ran their course fairly early on, especially regarding Warren and Gelsey (their problems felt solved within the first half of the novel). The inevitable romance was boring and not swoony at all, and very predictable. Personally, I felt it lacked the spark and I never got what was so great about the boy, only that he needed more development.
I wish the novel focused more on the family dynamics as opposed to the plethora of subplots, while I enjoyed the different storylines, I felt that the pacing in Second Chance Summer suffered. Clocking in at 480 pages according to goodreads, much of that could have been trimmed. I remember there was a “seven years ago” chapter that was just reiterating what had already been said before, and was pointless and self-indulgent. The pacing dragged with the subplots and got muddled in the middle (for example, a few weeks would pass in the span of two pages).
I did really enjoy the last 40 pages or so, I felt that the characters were finally becoming more fleshed out and enjoying some much needed character growth. Matson’s writing is engaging, and I felt she depicted the beach and cabin setting extremely well, definitely using it to her advantage. Many scenes benefited from the lush environmental setting.
Second Chance Summer felt like a longer version of a Sarah Dessen book, if your’e looking for a comparison. An okay sophomore novel that I’m sure will be a hit with the majority of readers, just not me.
Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable
Recommended for: well, fans of Sarah Dessen
7.5/10 – because I’m looking back to my review of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and I realize that I had the same problem—I never connected with the characters. I saw what Matson was trying to do with the personal journeys but they just didn’t get to me. I found there were too many subplots and the ‘big reveal’ was a disappointment. Ultimately, I did like Second Chance Summer but I felt kind of cheated because it felt too generic, too predictable, and the characters didn't feel real enough to pull off an emotional story like this one.
source: S&S Pulse It Browse Inside program
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