Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson | Book Review (Errr A Letter To Morgan Matson)

Second Chance Summer Morgan MatsonBook Title/Author: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Publisher/Year
: Simon & Schuster 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour

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I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

 

 

Taylor and her family are heading up to their summer house in the mountains for their last summer together as a family. Her dad has been diagnosed with cancer and only has months to live. Taylor doesn’t want to confront this reality nor does she want to go back and confront the mess she left here at the lake house 5 years ago – including her former best friend, Lucy, and Henry, her first love. She spends the summer confronting her past, her new reality and trying to make up for the moments lost and not pass up those second chances.

 

 

This isn’t going to be my typical review. I tried to write a review for this but I couldn’t so I’m going to instead write a letter to Morgan Matson. It’s not spoilery but I hope it will give you some insight into just how special this book is. Honestly, it’s incredible. I will give my “Final Thought” at the end still so you can get a general idea of what I thought.

Dear Morgan,

You know I’m a big fan of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour but Second Chance Summer is undoubtedly one of the most special books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Sometimes you read a book that hits so close to home and it’s SO hard but worth it. Even if I had not gone through what I had gone through I know, without a doubt, I’d still be raving about this book and telling everyone how special it is. Second Chance Summer is just such a complete book — it’s about so much more than a girl watching her father die. So often books that touch on this toe the line of just screaming HEY THIS CANCER IS A PLOT DEVICE. Second Chance Summer did not do that. It felt like a genuine piece of someone’s life – a really, really tough time in ones life but not at all the whole story. It’s about honest to goodness life. Ups and downs in all its glory.

I’ve never cried so hard while reading a book and really it was the last chunk of the book that did me in. I teared up a few times throughout but that last chunk felt like I was reliving my own life. My story? My mom was diagnosed with brain cancer in December 2004 when I was a senior in college and passed away in July 2006. Those years of watching her slowly lose the fight KILLED me to watch and I’ll never get some of these images out of my head.

Most of the books I’ve read with teens who lose parents is the “After” where the grief is really dealt with but this was the most beautiful, perfect story of the “finding out” you parent has cancer and the process of losing them. Of watching them die, to put it bluntly, which draws that grieving process out. It’s in the details where this book was so perfect. It was perfect, beautiful and painted one of the truest pictures of what this really looks like. The story may be different for everyone but that bare bones experience is so similar. What I liked about it that it was so representative of life. The whole summer was not all about the cancer because real life is not like that. I’d have days where my mom’s cancer didn’t loom so low over my head, days that felt almost normal. I’d deal with normal teen problems, that I knew were trivial in light of things, but these were still my days…my life.  Then there were days that were hard – the days where significant change happened or moments when my mom had to give a little more freedom over. I appreciated this.

Second Chance Summer really got those details almost down to the T from the protective dog that wouldn’t leave my mom’s side, to the day when work told her she couldn’t work anymore (she was MUCH like Taylor’s dad in her workaholic ways), to the days when all she would do is sleep, to the arrival of our grandmother to hold and take care of her daughter in her final weeks or to the moment you walk in the room and see your parent lying there with no more breaths left to breathe.  The tears that litter the pages of my book are a testament to the heart and soul you created within these pages; as well as a reminder of what I’ve gone through. It gives me refuge in some ways. I AM NOT ALONE. I HAVE GOTTEN THROUGH THIS. I CAN GET THROUGH OTHER THINGS I’M GOING THROUGH.

I really want to THANK you for Second Chance Summer. For a character I could relate to. I felt a lot of guilt for living my life while my mom got worse and worse just like Taylor did. I closed myself off a lot. I RAN and still RUN from things a lot. I know I shouldn’t but I do. I want to do great things every day. Like Taylor, I never thought there would be that moment when my mom would never be there. I reflected on this in my Mother’s Day post. Most of all, I love how STRONG Taylor truly was. So often the strong heroines are the ones fighting dragons and bad guys but, after going through this, I view strength in a whole different way — the strength to get through something like this, the strength of family and the strength of the person who is looking cancer (or any adversity) right in its ugly face.

I want to thank you for a beautiful story about watching someone you love die because it was one of the hardest most defining moments in my life. I wish I would have had this years ago to read. I want to thank you for doing it with care. I don’t know YOUR story but what I do know is I felt like you saw what I went through. I want to thank you for not just making this a story about a girl who is losing her dad but about life and love and family and friendship that still happens during that process. I genuinely loved Taylor and her family. I loved Henry and Lucy. And Murphy. And really all of the characters to be honest. Everyone seemed real and important.

So thank you. Thanks for writing amazing books. Thanks for writing characters I can truly relate to. Thank you for making me smile, for swooning, for making reflect and for making me remember to keep living. Thank you for not simplifying it but keeping the story and the dynamics of a sick parent as complex as they really are. Thank you for showing great strength in a way that isn’t of the ass kicking variety. Thank you for not having a romance be the only thing to get Taylor through this and showing the importance of family and friends. Thank you for one of my favorite father/daughter stories ever. I truly loved watching their relationship grow. I called my dad immediately upon finishing. Thank you. This book was perfect in every way.

Love,

Jamie

 

Second Chance Summer is one of the best books I’ve read. Period. It’s hard for me to keep my emotions out of my recommendation but I promise you that you will become absolutely absorbed in Taylor’s story. I PROMISE you this story is not all sad, despite my very emotional letter above. It’s a beautiful and moving story, set at at a summer lake house, that’s about love, friendship, family and second chances — not just about a girl whose dad is sick. Matson simplifies nothing.  It’s equal bits sweet, funny and heartbreaking but this story just felt so COMPLETE. It’s perfect and balanced and JUST READ IT PLEASE. Morgan Matson solidified herself as an auto-buy author for me and she is the cream of the crop when it comes to well written, relatable contemporary YA books with lovely romances and complex, moving stories.

 

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson book review

You May Also Like: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler, The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think? Did anyone else bawl there eyes out??

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 28 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating gelato, listening to music with oversized headphones and teaching her niece how to be as awesome as she is.

Comments

  1. Bernadette says:

    I borrowed this book from the library on the weekend, now I really can’t wait to read it! I’ve lost close friends and family members to cancer, not as close as a parent, but this disease is so insidious and it affects everyone in some way or another. I’m looking forward to reading this, especially since, from what I’ve heard, it’s not just a big PSA on cancer – I hate that…

    Also, on an unrelated note to my excitement for this book, the Goodreads link above is for Ashes on the Wave by Mary Lindsay, not Second Chance Summer :)

  2. Beautiful review, uhhhh, letter Jamie. It brought me to tears, must have been very emotional for you to put on paper as a reader. I’m off to one click this <3

  3. Hey Jamie – what a great review/letter. I can absolutely relate – my Dad passed away from Colon Cancer in 2010 and watching him slip away was one of the most raw and real..and awful times of my life. I haven’t really been able to read anything even about it since then – but after this book review I TOTALLY want to read this – I agree with you that showing the raw and real and scary emotions is an amazing way to write and I remember how as you said some days are normal and some are – unreal. My Dad was in the hospital for 2 weeks before he passed away and the moment where you describe seeing a parent in a room with no breaths left brought me right back to that room – I also have more images than I ever want of him suffering and me feeling helpless at times..
    Anyway – sorry about that rant, but this just made me really remember that, and not just the bad, but the good – the overwhelming feeling that left me with to want to “really live” my life, to get out there an experience everything my Dad may have not been able to – to not wait or push things off because you never know. Thanks for this review – 1. I will absolutely read this a soon as I can get my hands on it and 2. Thanks for sharing so much of your personal life – it feels awesome to know other people out there have felt the way you to.
    Thanks again,
    Kelley

  4. That review was AMAZING! As a person that watched someone close to them die from Pancreatic Cancer I completely understand everything you just said and I agree 100%! The book was EVERYTHING you said it was and more.

    Bravo!

  5. This is like everything I wanted to say about this book when I read it. I related so much, to the illness, the parent dying and all of that, and cried. A lot. I read it in one afternoon, curled up in bed unable to put it down because it was the first book I had read that properly explored the suituation in that way and felt familiar and was just so real. I adored it. And this letter is so perfect. Thank you Jamie for yet again putting my feeling into words! I’m so glad you read this book. xxxx

  6. JAMIE, I WANT TO HUG YOU AFTER THIS REVIEW!!! You’ve captured the book PERFECTLY and made me want to re-read it yet AGAIN except I don’t think I’ve quite recovered from my sobfest yet. I love the sentence you wrote about strong heroines because it’s so true. I really related to Taylor on RUNNING AWAY from her problems too. I’m fortunate enough that I’ve never had to watch a loved one die but the grief in the book and your review is palpable. I really felt how much this book resonated with you and again, I just want to hug you. Such a beautiful and heartbreaking review. Thank you for sharing.

    Lots of love to you and Morgan and Second Chance Summer xoxoxoxo

  7. Okay so I cried reading your review/letter and I have a feeling that I am only going to cry harder once I actually get this book and read it. It’s been on my TBR for a while and now I know I HAVE to read it.It just sounds amazing.

  8. HUGS. Yeah, this one was really tough for me. I didn’t cry, but because I tried SO HARD to emotionally detach myself — I knew I couldn’t handle it otherwise. The REALNESS of it all…so spot-on, so tough, so bittersweet and perfectly handled. xo

  9. I love how you wrote a letter to Morgan Matson instead of just a general review for this book. I feel like it really allowed you to express how much you truly love this book. I haven’t read it yet, but now I know that I’m going to need a full box of tissues with me when I do! I also want to hug you, because I feel like your poured your heart and soul into this post! so.. *hugs!!!!* <3

  10. I’m adding this one to my wish list. Sounds like a powerful read. Great review!

  11. If your letter is any indication of how much I’ll cry when I read Second Chance Summer, then I’m pretty sure I’ll be bawling when I finally get around to it. That was the most beautiful review ever. And while I haven’t lost a parent, I can relate to how hard it is to lose someone you love to cancer. Geez, I’m crying already! Wonder how I’ll be when I read this? I don’t think it’ll be pretty. Anyway, GREAT review, Jamie! It was so heartfelt and authentic and touching. Thank YOU for convincing me to read this book. I’m sold already.

  12. This is one of the few books that I can call perfect. I really think it is.

    So glad it touched you and that you felt so strongly about it. I’ve been thinking about rereading this a lot this summer, and I hope I get the chance.

    xo

  13. I’ve heard so many good things about this one. I really can’t wait to read it and am so glad you liked it!

  14. I just added this book to my to read list. I cant wait to read it.

  15. Oh Jamie. This made me tear up some. I can’t even imagine what your experience was like. For me, losing two grandparents to cancer was….nightmarish. My grandma went very quickly, but we knew with my grandpa and had some time, so I experienced some of those moments with him – when he had to stop farming, when we’d come see him and the pain was so bad he was sleeping and didn’t know we were there. Then there were the good days, when we sat around talking and sharing.

    I…have this book. But I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to read it. I know I want to, and I think I NEED to. But I’m still not over The Fault in Our Stars, and I’m not sure I ever will be. *sigh*

    Beautiful letter, Jamie. Just beautiful. :)

  16. I just bought this like last week or the week before. I want to read it soon and hope I’ll be able to. This is a beautiful blog post, Jamie. xo

  17. Sometimes I shy away from books that I know will be emotional. I don’t know why, I think because they drain me emotionally and then I get nervous to read them. But your post was amazing and seeing how much you loved it makes me want to, too! If that makes sense. I will definitely read soon!

  18. Basically, what you said in your letter + final thought is lovely. I enjoyed Second Chance Summer too, as it managed to make me FEEL so many different emotions as I read it! Matson certainly knows how to write a story, and I’m so, so glad that you were able to enjoy the book.

  19. YES! I’m so glad you loved this book. This is THE book that made me fall in love with Morgan Matson. It made me swoon, it made me laugh, and it made me BAWL into the wee hours of the night. Seriously, such a good read!

  20. That so much for your heartfelt review – sharing personal and painful details about your life can be hard but it makes for a much more meaningful post. I adored Amy and Roger’s Epic detour so I’m glad to hear that this author is keeping up the good work – can’t wait to check this one out.

  21. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    Though our experiences were truly different (time wise), I still felt a connection to this story too. I wonder how it would have been if I had a summer, or a fall, or even just longer than weeks with my mother from the time she was diagnosed to her final passing. It all happened in such a whirlwind that there wasn’t time for “life” in between. I often think I would have felt similar as you though.. guilty for living when someone else was dying.

    This book is special to me, too. Morgan wrote such a brave story and I have a lot of respect for her because of it. I’m glad you finally got around to reading this one Jamie. I love you! xoxo

  22. I’ve been wanting to read this one just for the simple fact that I heard it takes place in Pa, in a lake rental community. I live in one.. (omg I hate the tourists) So I’m really curious to see how right on she is with the setting.

    I will definitely have to get it now, I’m so glad you loved it. I’ve been waiting for someone to post a great review so I could go ahead and buy it. :)

Trackbacks

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  5. […] of my favorite contemporary YA authors (seriously go read Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer) — and I figured, “why not share the love for one of my 2014 most anticipated novels […]

  6. […] of Morgan’s books (Since You’ve Been Gone, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, & Second Chance Summer — all books I have personally LOVED and […]

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