Second Chance Summer

Second Chance Summer

Three weeks ago, on the day of her birthday, Taylor got the most horrible birthday present of all.  That was the day she found out her father had cancer.  Worse still, he had perhaps three months left.  So to make the most of it, the Edwards family will carve out their last summer together, not apart at different camps or working in the law firm.  This time, family comes first.

The last thing Taylor wanted was to pack up with her family and stay the summer in their lake house on the Poconos.  Her older brother Warren has only university classes on the brain, and her much younger sister Gelsey will be doing barre exercises and continuing to practice her ballet.  Besides not connecting with her siblings, there is something else that makes Taylor truly not want to go....something awful she did the last time she was there.

Summers at Lake Phoenix were not always so terrible.  Taylor remembers her best friend Lucy and all the conversations they shared, the sleepovers they had, and how she idolized her.  She also remembers Henry.  He was her first boyfriend, the guy she first held hands with, and the one who gave her that first kiss.  Now, she dreads facing them again and what will happen if they ever bump into each other.  

Once there, Taylor feels like she's stepped back in time.  The lake house was the same as it was five years ago - nothing has changed.  Even the town itself hasn't changed a lot.  The cafe is still there along with the PocoMart and the signs in front of everyone's home.  A few things have changed though, like new neighbors and the fact that Henry's house is now occupied by someone else.

As they get settled in to a new routine of summer living and her father's failing health, Taylor's memories flood back and soon she finds herself face-to-face with her first kiss and her used-to-be best friend.  And the summer begins of being lost then found...

Matson delivers again and an emotionally charged and beautifully written book.  She is able to combine the most basic emotions a person carries and interprets them through her characters, especially that of Taylor.  While other YA books may put parents in a secondary role, Matson brings them to the forefront as the catalyst in all of the character's lives.  Her allusions are striking as well and readers should be able to pick up on these while reading or through hindsight.  There is a word of caution with the book though.  Don't read this in public, at school, or near little children.  Why?  It's not because of content but....well, I dare anyone who hasn't read this not to cry when you do, and it won't be the quiet crying thing either.  It's the deep sobs and the tears that won't stop.  Really....And that is a sign of authentic writing by an author who can really touch a reader's hidden emotional side. Think Sparks' The Last Song or Green's Fault in Our Stars - Matson's book definitely has that pull.  Recommended (along with tissues and a caution to remove contact lenses!)

Recommended by:  Naomi Bates, Librarian, Texas USA

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Okay, Sarah Dessen fans, here's another author to add to your must-read list. Second Chance Summer has all the romance, heart-break, and angst that you find in a good Dessen novel.

Sixteen-year-old Taylor hasn't spent the summer at their lake house since she was twelve, but this year her entire family is going back for one last time. But this time, everything will be different - Her once best friend isn't speaking to Taylor, and it's all Taylor's fault. Her first boyfriend is avoiding her. There is an old smelly dog hanging around who thinks the lake house is his house, too.

And most upsetting of all, this may be Taylor's father's last visit to the lake house because he has cancer.

I liked the author's style of writing so much, I immediately ordered Matson's first book, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour. I would recommend this to mature eighth-grade girls because of some brief (not at all graphic) sexual content.  480 pages  978-1416990673  13 and up

Recommended by: Faith Miller, Librarian USA


The day is Taylor's seventeenth birthday.  Taylor, her brother Warren and her sister Gelsey are waiting for their parents to come home from the doctor so they can have the party. But when their parents share that their dad is in stage-four pancreatic cancer Taylor’s life will never be the same again.

It has been five years since they spent a summer at the Poconos in their cabin. Dad’s wish is that they all pack up and spend one last summer together before he dies. 

As Taylor remembers her last summer in the Poconos, five years ago she remembers her friends and how much she hurt them and then just took off. Can she possibly return and face those memories at the same time she is trying to deal with her dad’s illness? To make things worse when she arrives, she finds out that her old boyfriend and her best friend are still there and the wounds are still raw. Taylor’s family may not be a normal functioning one in many ways but as the summer progresses they see their love for each other and that love can overcome many things.

And just maybe she will have enough time to mend some fences and get a second chance with family, friends, and with love.

Recommended by: Joleen Waltman, Librarian, Idaho USA

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