Book Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

This is my third Morgan Matson read and this one gave me alotta emotions. I don’t deal with emotional books very well. I was literally bawling my eyes out. I was warned. 

Second Chance Summer is about seventeen year old Taylor Edwards, whose family isn’t particularly close because everyone is so busy but then one day she and her family received devastating news that her dad has cancer. So her parents decide to spend one last summer together at their lake house. Taylor hasn’t been back to the lake house in the last five years. She never wanted to come back because she has bad memories and last time she was there, things did not end well. 

Taylor is a coward and she admits it. She often runs away when things gets a bit tough. She is not perfect but definitely felt like a realistic character She has a lot of flaws, which is okay because it’s nice to see flaws in a character. Unfortunately, Taylor was just a bit of a flat character. I felt like I didn’t know her well. I didn’t know what some of her interests are, whether she has any aspirations at all and doesn’t seem to have much of a personality. However the more I read, she did grow on me. She knows that she’s a coward and gradually begins to stop running away from her problems and starts bravely facing up to it, which is very admirable – something I enjoy seeing in a flawed character. 

There are snippet chapters of the past tense, which tells us what happened between Taylor, Henry and Lucy five years ago at the lake house. In the beginning, we don’t know what Taylor did that was so awful. Henry and Lucy were quite cold towards Taylor because what she did was just mean and a very ‘shitty thing to do.’ It's the main reason and understandable why they held a five-year grudge. Their lost friendship does get rekindled, eventually which is rather nice to see. 

One thing I loved about this book was Murphy, the dog. Morgan Matson’s dog is actually called Murphy as well. Coincidence? I think not. So I was just imagining the author’s dog throughout this entirety of the book! It was just such a cute addition to the book. I recently read The Unexpected Everything, which was filled with dogs and I was very happy to see that this book included a dog as well. 

I really liked Warren, who is Taylor’s brother. He’s a nerd and just loves to talk about how things are invented. It was just so funny, when he starts deliberately torturing the dog, like purposely dropping ketchup on him, so that he could bring him to Doggit Gone! just to see Wendy, which is cute. Another point – it was so nice to see Taylor and her family actually bonding and getting on well. 

I have been warned that this is a tearjerker. Towards the ending of the book, things got really emotional. I liked that the author didn’t sugar-coat the cancer aspect of the plot. It was written and handled very well in a realistic way. It was so sad and I just had too many emotions.

The negative thing I have to say is that the length is just a bit too long, as I don't think a huge amount happens in this book. Saying that, I have noticed that most of Morgan Matson’s books are long anyway because she takes the time to develop the characters and the story.

Published by Thuong Le


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