Second Chance Summer

First Lines: I eased open my bedroom door to check that the hallway was empty.  When I was sure that it was, I shouldered my purse and closed the door behind me quietly, then took the stairs down to the kitchen two at a time.  It was nine a.m., we were leaving for the lake house in three hours, and I was running away.

Morgan Matson, I swear, is going to take Sarah Dessen’s place in the YA realm of realistic fiction.  Not that Dessen isn’t also amazing, but Matson…well, we’ll get to that.

Taylor Edwards’s summer gets turned upside down when her family finds out her dad has stage four, incurable cancer…on her birthday.  With only four months to live, his wish is that they all head to the lake where they used to spend so many summers together.  But that’s really the last place Taylor wants to be, since she’s pretty sure she burned a few bridges five years ago when she left.  For her dad, though, she’ll go.  Can Taylor fix what was broken and spend time with her dad, before it’s all too late?

I really liked the story.  I really related to a lot of the characters.  I saw myself in Taylor’s little sister Gelsey, who was a dancer and kind of shy.  I saw myself in Taylor’s older brother Warren, though I wasn’t really proud of that one.  Warren’s a bit annoying with his random factoids that he simply cannot stop spewing.  I’m hoping I’m not quite like that…  And Taylor herself I could relate to.  Not at first so much, but once I got to know her more, I saw a whole lot of me there.  I just didn’t recognize it at first.  I think that’s a pretty incredible accomplishment, that I could relate to so many people because it’s normally really hard to relate to siblings in books.  Well, an accomplishment on Matson’s part.

The story is quite heartbreaking in more than one way.  The most obvious of which involves Taylor’s dad.  My relationship with my dad is a lot like hers and her dad’s, so that made everything more heartbreaking.  I cried a lot in this book.

I liked how multifaceted the story was.  ($10 word, right?)  There were more plot lines than just those revolving around Taylor.  We got glimpses into Warren’s life through Taylor, but still.  Same with Gelsey and Henry and Lucy and like, everyone.  It felt more like life than a planned out story if you get my meaning.

Matson, I think, is going to be equal or overtake Dessen at some point because of how real her writing is.  Not that Dessen doesn’t do the same, but I never have this strong a reaction to a Dessen book.  I like Dessen, but hers feel more calculated.  Keep Matson on your watch list.

While I really liked it, the necessary flashbacks to what happened five years ago seriously slowed down the pacing of the story.  I dreaded the flashbacks because it took us out of the rest of the story.  They told us what we needed to know, but I felt that there could have maybe been a better way of doing it or something.  Still, it was a terrific read.

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