Book Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

11071466Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


From the Flying Start author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, a powerful novel about hope in the face of heartbreak.

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.


I guess all good things must come to an end, much like my streak of well-loved books by Morgan Matson. It started with the utterly delectable Since You’ve Been Gone, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and continued with the stupendous The Unexpected Everything, which gave me an out-of-body experience because of how amazing it was. But my experience with Second Chance Summer did not have the same results as the former two; this time, I was quite annoyed, frustrated, and frowning while reading this story. I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise, considering that’s my usual response when reading contemporaries in general, but I really didn’t expect it from a book by this author – especially since many people adored this one just as much as the others.

The root of my problems stem from my frustration with the main character, whose name is so forgettable that I can’t even recall the first letter. I’m also too lazy to search it up while typing this review, and no doubt will keep it like this even after editing it before scheduling it because I honestly don’t care. Okay okay, I admit that she does go through some nice character development. I love the friendship she had with Lucy. I also adored the relationship she had with her dad, and her eccentric family. I did not like her. A problem with me for contemporaries is that if I do not like the main character and narrator, I find myself looking for faults. Things that affect this are if I can empathize with their situation, and if I think we could be good friends. (Yes I’m very subjective when reading/rating contemporaries. Do I care much? No.) So the main character and I wouldn’t be the best of friends. She doesn’t really have a stable friend circle, and is a bit shy. She’s a runner – she likes to run from her problems. We see her doing it all throughout the book. Erm, I guess she was a bit caring but it didn’t really matter because she still tried to run away from her problems. Did I mention she’s a runner? Not like, professionally. But in an attempt to escape emotional backlash. Definitely likes to run away.

So you can probably tell I am not a big fan of this main character (still can’t recall her name). I found myself rather apathetic to her character development simply because she never endeared herself to me. Sometimes I wanted to reach into the book and smack her and go like, “Dude I’m not sure how you got this far in life if you’ve been running away from everything.” But whatever. Maybe she’s like that because she’s the supposedly “unskilled middle child,” in between a talented younger sister and genius older brother. I found her family very fun to read about, and their antics absolutely adorable. They’re not the most touchy-feely emotional fam, but they do grow closer in this summer at Lake Phoenix. Something happens in the beginning of the book that called for them to go to their summer house after several years of neglect. The book is titled Second Chance Summer because of all the second chances the main character gets – with her family and friends. (Omg! Her name is literally on the tip of my tongue. Is it bad that I recall every other character’s names except hers?)

There’s this big fallout that happened the last time she was there, which caused a rift between her best friend Lucy and first boyfriend Henry. Henry is – surprise, surprise – super cute now and she keeps bumping into him for some reason. She also ends up working with Lucy at a summer job. It took maybe a bit more than half the book for them to make up. A SIMPLE APOLOGY. And it took the same length for the readers to figure out what happened that caused the whole break-up. This reader was having none of it. Way to emphasize your first world problems, main character.

I can’t argue that there isn’t a perfect blend of friendship, family relationship, and self-discovery in this book, but I just didn’t like the characters well enough to really care. There is a bit of a bittersweet ending in regards to the family matter that did touch my heart a bit, but it was really quite fleeting. (Which makes me sound heartless but yo I got to sort out my fictional literature priorities, and the events in this book certainly isn’t one.) Lucy was a real supportive, awesome friend. I really liked how their friendship developed after getting over that silly summer when they were 12 years old. Honestly, I would have loved more scenes with her rather than Henry. If I created a Twitter account for a YA Contemporary Hero (like the Dystopian Hero one. Or is it Brooding YA Hero?), Henry would epitomize it. He has cute looks (not sure what he really looks like except for having freckles and brown hair, but super cute), a charming personality, is a bit nerdy (because wildlife!!), and understanding. So are a dozen other love interests out there. Not gonna lie, while reading his interactions with the main character, I started imagining him as a life-sized white cardboard cutout of a vaguely human shape. Which, in fact, perfectly reflects my thoughts about his character.

Aw man, but the main character’s dad was really the star of a show. I’m a total sucker for dad-daughter relationships (it’s a close thing to my heart), so reading about theirs was really nice. Those were the times that I almost – justttt almostt – started liking the main character. Alas, there weren’t too many of those scenes because next thing you know, BOOM Henry’s just around the corner, looking as cute as ever with his broad shoulders.

And on the topic of writing: jeez, the dialogue in the beginning made me want to slip into the book (again) and either smack the character or continue the conversation for them. It was very stilted. Kind of… Like, if I typed. Like this. Sorta. Sentences were short. And I recall in a previous English class that people find shorter sentences more realistic, but not when they’re like, four lines of dialogue! One encounter between two characters will be five paragraphs of thinking from the main character, and two lines from each character. (Which may be an exaggeration, but certainly felt like it!) I actually tried acting the scene out in my head without all those thought processes and HELLO, meet most awkward conversation ever. Again, it’s totally a me thing though. Maybe I just like to talk and couldn’t handle the short responses. (Since I like to squeeze answers out of other people too).

In my review of The Unexpected Everything, I likened it to sherbet ice cream on a sunny day. Continuing on with that comparison, Second Chance Summer is like the vanilla ice cream all the way in the back of the fridge that’s probably expired, but no one really knows because we really don’t touch it and it probably has legit ice in it because it’s been there, in the freezer, for so long. Half-eaten. And in the wrong brand, too. (Be glad it’s not as bad as oyster ice cream guys, which was my first choice). It had all the components of a great contemporary, but my personal problems with the main character (it’s honestly not that hard to just open the book and glimpse her name but again, my apathy knows no bounds) and the plot made it lackluster for me. Maybe next time.


My thought process while trying to recall the main character’s name:

I’m pretty sure it starts with a T. Tori? Tobie? Dude, that’s a guy’s name. Well, maybe it could be unisexual. *inserts Tori in dialogue* No… Okay so there’s Gelsey and Warren (her siblings), so it would be a rather unique name. Morgan! Amy? No, that was the other book omg. Mercy. Mary. Not even close. Lexi??? I still think it starts with a T.



29 thoughts on “Book Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

  1. Marie @ drizzleandhurricanebooks says:

    Hahahaha, I actually really liked this book, but all the while I was reading this review, I COULDN’T EVEN REMEMBER THE NAME of the character either. I still can’t?! I am so confused right now, haha. It’s too bad you couldn’t like the main character and the others so, so much 😦 I really liked her interactions with her dad though, and I agree, I wanted more, more and more of that 🙂 Great review! 🙂

    • Aila @ One Way Or An Author says:

      Woot woot, I’m glad you still liked it Marie! My favorite part would be the family interactions, especially with the dad. I just thought that in this particular book the romance and friendship angst was particularly unnecessary.

      And well, Taylor IS a pretty forgettable name, isn’t it? 😉

  2. Louise / geniereads says:

    Great review! I personally liked this book, but I could totally understand why you didn’t liked it. I agree with the character of Henry, he was like the typical love interest with no significant personality. And gosh, you had me laughing when you were trying to figure out Taylor’s name! 😂😂

    • Aila @ One Way Or An Author says:

      I’m so glad you liked this book at least :’) Give it the love I couldn’t, hehe.

      Yeahh so Henry was like cardboard! Definitely not swoon-worthy like Frank or Clark (from Matson’s other books.)

      I feel so bad because her name was in the blurb but I didn’t want to cheat and look it up 😛 until the end… OOPS.

  3. Tasya says:

    Ooh this is the first meh review I actually read about this book. I’m sorry this one didn’t work for you! I meant to read this book, but now I’ll reconsider. I just… if I can’t enjoy the MC, then the book is ruined for me. And Taylor (her name was right there in the synopsis Aila XD) doesn’t seem like someone I’d like… I mean her running away from her problems surely would create tons of unecessary drama throughout this book-_- I hope your next read would be better!

    • Aila @ One Way Or An Author says:

      Yeah I didn’t want to cheat though Tasya! Looking up her name in the description would have been an admit to defeat 😀 I’m a terrible reader, truly.

      I just feel like the friendship and romance angst was so overblown and we could have spent more time on the truly enjoyable things… like the family situation haha. 😛 To each their own! I’m glad I could offer some additional perspective on this book though!

  4. Liam @ Hey Ashers! says:

    I’ve heard so many rave reviews about this author’s books, it’s actually kind of nice to see a meh review. But I’m sorry it disappointed you so much; that’s always awful, when a book by a trusted author lets you down. Great review! 🙂

  5. The Book Wench says:

    Great review! I have actually never read anything by this author but I’m inclined to read the other two books you mentioned.

    And aw, I would have loved to like this book, being a Taylor myself. xD
    Again, great review!!

    • Aila @ One Way Or An Author says:

      Lol Taylor I still think you might like this one! All my other friends highly enjoyed it; guess I was just the black sheep this time. 😛

      And YESS, I hope you pick up the previous two I mentioned by this author! They were both spectacular in every way.

  6. Jess I. says:

    Yikes, I haven’t read any Matson books yet but I think I’ll pass on this one. A frustrating main character is definitely the worst since they, you know, drive the plot and are so HUGE in the story. Sorry you didn’t like this one but I hope your next read is better!

  7. Faith Young says:

    That ice cream comparison omg
    I’m not a huge contemporary reader (at all, pretty much at any point of the year) but I really need to pick up Matson’s books.
    It’s too bad you didn’t like this one (everyone seems to love it?!)
    I probably won’t prioritize this one, since apparently all her other books are filled with fabulous amazingness.
    Great review, Aila!

    • Aila @ One Way Or An Author says:

      Yeah Faith, I’m quite surprised everyone loved it! Guess I’m content being the black sheep, this time around. 😛

      OMG THOUGH, you HAVE to pick up The Unexpected Everything if you ever get the chance. It’s simply stupendous and I don’t think you’ll regret it, contemporary reader or not.

      (And yaas who says no to an ice cream metaphor? 😉 )

  8. Tamara @ Tamaraniac says:

    I have enjoyed the rest of Morgan Matson’s books, but I’ve heard that this one is super sad and I’m super wary of contemporary books that are known to “make people cry” so I haven’t read this one. And frankly… I might never pick it up. I’m just not that interested.

    • Aila @ One Way Or An Author says:

      For me, I couldn’t connect with the characters enough to really experience the tear-jerking moments. I really wish we got more from the family aspect!

      LOL that was frank, to be sure. 😀 I wouldn’t recommend it even without the tears! Save your time on happier books.

  9. Tika says:

    ” Tori, Tobie ” and it was Taylor, * slowly dies from laughter * I got this for my birthday but surprise, surprise I haven’t read it yet. My fave by her, well the only book that I’ve ever read was Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. Omg it was so freaking good! I really liked Amy as a character, but I mostly liked Roger and the fact that in every state they crossed, they always stopped at popular landmarks, taking pictures, collecting receipts, etc, which are shown in the book! I’ll be reading The Unexpected Everything one of these days, I’m hoping it’s deserving of all the hype it’s been getting.

    #teamblacksheepstrikesagain #blacksheepsquad

    • Aila @ One Way Or An Author says:

      Oh man, I really need to pick up Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour! Then I can safely say I have all of Matson’s books read. 😛 Man, if you pick it up I hope you enjoy it more than I did. :\

      Yaas, the black sheep squad strikes again. 😀

      BUT I LOVED THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING! The beginning was soooo slowww, but once it picks up I experienced all the feels, so worth it.

  10. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence says:

    HAHAHHA oh Aila I loved your thoughts about the main character’s name throughout the review! Then wham bam you remembered the best friend and the cute guy instead of her lol. It was refreshing seeing your point of view especially seeing as Jenna loved it! Definitely connecting with the MC is important in enjoying a book and she just seems so…blah.

    • Aila @ One Way Or An Author says:


      I just… couldn’t care enough. And I feel bad since everyone loved it but *shrugs* what can I do. The drama over friendships and love interest could have really been set aside for the familial dynamics.

  11. Rashika says:

    You cracked me up, Aila! I was laughing so much because you couldn’t remember what’s her face’s name and didn’t care to which basically says everything you need to about this book. I’ve actually never read Matson’s books even though I have a bunch (including this one) on my tbr. But I am so genuinely amused that this character keeps running from her problems. Like how is she ever going to figure out LIFE??? How does character development even occur if she keeps running away?? 😛

    Fantastic review!!! 🙂

    • Aila @ One Way Or An Author says:

      Right right Rashika?! I literally waited for the majority of the book for her to STOP RUNNING AWAY. She did it like four times and I was like “but what are you doing??” I really think the end showed too little, too late for her character development. Call me cynical, but I’m gonna need a lot more than a character running away from her problems.

      Thus, my total apathy with her name. 😛

  12. Divya @ Endless Pages says:

    Great review, Aila! I haven’t picked up any of Matson’s books yet, but I definitely won’t be starting with this one. The main character world drive me crazy!

    I’m a new follower 🙂 Your blog is the prettiest thing I’ve seen today! ❤

    • Aila @ One Way Or An Author says:

      Oh my goodness, that is so sweet of you! ❤ Thank you for making MY day 🙂

      And yeah, if you start with Matson I really recommend a more recent book like Since You've Been Gone or The Unexpected Everything. Although it's a bit thicker than this one, I enjoyed it way more!

  13. Peach @ Rebelle Reads says:

    Omgggg heartbreaking a bad Morgan Matson book?! Never thought I’d see the day. I didnt like TUE too much either tbh. I feel like all of Morgan’s love interests are nerdy to some extent and I hope she finally brings us a bad boy scientist or something. Fab review, Aila! 😀

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