Friday, September 14, 2012

Book Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

It's the summer before senior year, and the last place Taylor Edwards wants to be is in a car with her parents, annoyingly superior older brother Warren and dance-obssessed little sister Gelsey heading to their lake summerhouse in the Pennsylvania mountains.  Sandwiched between two extraordinary siblings (Warren is a genius, Gelsey a talented ballet dancer), the only thing Taylor is extraordinarily good at is running away.  Exhibit A: She hasn't been back to the lake house since the summer she was twelve - the summer everything fell apart with best friend Lucy and first crush Henry Crosby.  The summer she screwed everything up, and, unable to face the mess of it all, the summer she's refused to deal with for five years.

Taylor's family wasn't planning on heading to the summerhouse this year either - until, three weeks ago, her dad received devastating news.  Now, everything's packed, and there's no running away from the lake, the memories of all her mistakes, or from what's going to happen to her dad, and her family.

When they first arrive in Lake Phoenix, Taylor figures she'll just hang out around the house with her dad all summer.  If she stays home, there's no way she'll run into Lucy, Henry, and any other memories.  Besides, it looks like Henry's family has moved - the sign in front of their house that read Camp Crosby now reads Maryanne's Happy Hour, and Taylor has no idea who Maryanne is.  Which is why it's such a shock when Henry turns up at the end of Taylor's dock with a kayak, all grown up and gorgeous.  And not at all pleased to see Taylor.  Even worse, he tells Taylor his family did, indeed, move - next door.

When her dad tells Taylor she's driving him crazy hovering around the house, and him, and suggests she get a job, Taylor reluctantly agrees.  Only to discover on her first day working at the beach snack bar that her new co-worker is none other than her ex-best friend Lucy.  Awkward.  Add that to the fact that Taylor keeps running into Henry, and she decides that she should probably figure out how to make things right - with Lucy and with Henry.

As June rolls into July, Taylor finds herself relaxing into summer, and Lake Phoenix.  Bike rides, walks in the woods, summer nights on the beach, late nights on the dock, outdoor movies, fireworks and picnics.  But underneath it all is the real reason Taylor and her family are spending the summer at the lake.  Even as she's facing her past, Taylor has to find a way to face the future - and to figure out how to make second chances happen when there's only a summer left.

You may have to grab a sweatshirt from the lost and found, but take this to the beach with you and soak up the last few rays of summer sun with this novel about second, and sometimes third, chances.  Funny, sweet, hearbreaking and full of hope, Morgan Matson is an author to add to your list of must-reads along with Deb Caletti, Sarah Dessen, and Susane Colasanti.

(who feels like this coming Tuesday is Christmas - The Diviners by Libba Bray and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater?!!  I kind of want to take the day off!)

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