Monday, July 2, 2012

Book Rant: Second Chance Summer

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.

This is Morgan Matson's second novel (her first being the famous AMY AND ROGER'S EPIC DETOUR) and I'm afraid it suffers a little from second novel syndrome. While overall, I enjoyed the novel, I think it was mainly redeemed by the ending, which was well written. The middle on the other hand, dragged significantly. It took me A LONG time to get through this book. I started it probably several weeks ago and in the meantime, finished quite a few novels.

The thing I liked about the novel is still what I enjoy about Matson's writing in general. She has a very conversationalist, easy-going voice, and it's pleasant to read. Yet she has a much more polished style than a lot of authors I've read who do sugary-sweet summer romance YA contemporary. That much, at least, has not changed from DETOUR.

Unfortunately, SECOND CHANCE SUMMER doesn't have the rest of the charm of the first. I think one major problem is while the first novel was a roadtrip and therefore had a built-in structure to keep the plot tight and move it along, the second novel lacks that. As a result, it sort of meanders through a variety of storylines, some of which are, frankly, not engaging. Like DETOUR, this novel too employs the use of flashbacks to deliver back story, except the story is unnecessarily coy with why Taylor's former best friend/childhood boyfriend hate her, and then when the reason is unveiled, it's pretty dumb.

Henry, the love interest, is not particularly interesting either. He was cookie-cutter and bland, and by the end, appeared to be there when he was needed and conveniently not there when he was pushed away. I don't know, he just seemed like a prop rather than a person. (I shouldn't compare too much, but Roger was way better. I realize Roger was also perfect, tan, super nice, and a history major to boot, but at least he had goals.) I'm getting bored and impatient with the deluge of boys in fiction who have perfect tans/bods and no interests other than being shy and in love with the main character who is not described to be anything other than normal-looking. Like, I know great boys exist, but seriously.

On a positive note, the family interactions were good and a definite redeeming quality. The premise of the book is so tragic but is nonetheless carefully and movingly developed. I wish the book had stayed more with the family-bonding aspect than the summer romance aspect, but whatever. I'm not the writer. When she wants to, Matson can still write the hell out of a gut-wrenching scene. I would still recommend this book despite its flaws as a solid -- but not incredible -- read. Probably won't leave you with any lasting impressions, but it's not terrible.


  1. Sounds like a good one to pick up for the "beach book" box. Thank you for sharing your thoughts :-)

    1. Good beach book for sure. Bring tissues!

  2. I just read this book this weekend - I read it in 2 days because my TBR pile is ridiculous and it was time to PUT MY FOOT DOWN. I agree with many of your thoughts (re: Henry and Lucy), but I loved the family dynamics and thought the ending was great. Gut wrenching is just the word for several of those scenes.

    1. Yup, the ending was phenomenal. I got choked up and that rarely happens to me. I just wish some of the subplots got trimmed; with them, the book is somewhat bloated.