Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on 05 May 2012
Genres: Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Social Issues, Young Adult
Also by this author: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, Since You've Been Gone, The Unexpected Everything
I came late to the realisation of how awesome a storyteller Morgan Matson was by listening to her debut, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, about a year after it was released. I fell hard for that book and really wish that I could experience it again for the first time. There was just something so magical about the story and it stayed with me longer after I finished it. I knew, with that book that Matson was an author worthy of being on my radar. When Second Chance Summer was released I was both elated at a new Matson book but also so very wary. What if this sophomore book didn’t have the same magic? What if I didn’t like it and maybe Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour was just a fluke. So while I obtained a copy pretty fast after release it just sat on my shelf keeping company with all my hopes and fears for the story.
Then the other day I was looking for a new book to move onto and with the help of a Twitter friend the choice became Second Chance Summer. Fate had led me to a moment where I had to face my fears of what this novel could be and I couldn’t run away. Which is a funny thought that filled my brain as I began this book. I say funny as running away is a bit of a theme with the main character Taylor. She isn’t so good with the confrontation of heavy things and does her best to avoid them. But there comes a time when you have to square your shoulders and face what may come as best you can.And Taylor has some serious things to face.
There is the tragedy that her family is dealing with, the same tragedy that leads them to abandon their busy over scheduled lives to spend the summer at their old lake house. And then there is this secondary story line of events that happened five years previously that caused Taylor to run away from the lake house in the first place in the hopes that she’d never return. So you can image that Taylor doesn’t have a very easy summer ahead of her. But sometimes that which you think will be the most difficult really isn’t that hard after all. That the thoughts you place in your mind are far more scary than the actual walking across the coals.
Taylor isn’t always an easy character to like. She can be selfish and self-centered but she isn’t a bad person. She doesn’t always make the right choices but she does learn from her mistakes. She’s a girl that everyone can learn something from because everyone has their flaws. Its how you choose to deal with them that helps to define you as a person. That’s also how others will see you and treat you. How Taylor acts around the secondary characters in this book really help to shape the story. Yes, Second Chance Summer, is told from Taylor’s POV but through her eyes you really do see where the minor characters are coming from. How they act and what they say is so very real and vivid.
As with her debut, Matson weaves a beautiful story and once I picked it up I wasn’t able to put it down. I fell into this world and lived and breathed these characters for the hours it took to read this book. I could close my eyes and clearly visualize them all and I when it came down to the last few chapters I found that I put the book aside. That I came up with things to do other than read because I didn’t want the story to end. I wasn’t ready to let go.
There is much to love in this book. There were times when I laughed and others when I cried. Its a story that will stay with me and pretty much assures Matson a place on my autobuy list. I also don’t think that there will be much waiting to read her next book once its available either. Maston has proven herself to be a master storyteller in my eyes and I don’t think she’ll ever write a disappointing story. Second Chance Summer is no Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour its not a book that is better or worse than Matson’s debut. Its a story that stands all on its own and its one that is worth reading.