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Backshelf Book Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Second Chance Summer is an emotional roller coaster!

Backshelf Book Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

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second chance summer morgan matson book review

Title & Author: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary

Release Date: May 8, 2012

Series: Standalone

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

How I Got the Book: Gifted


“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.”

My Second Morgan Matson Book

Morgan Matson, we meet again. Our first encounter was with Since You’ve Been Gone. I ADORED this book. It’s a darling contemporary with so much heart and fun and romance.

Second Chance Summer is one of Matson’s earlier novels, and while there is romance, it’s certainly on the more serious side.

It’s interesting because the book pairs a very serious family matter – a family member only having 4 months to live – with some regular ole growing pains. I think these opposities paired very well together, showing the beautiful and painful moments in both situations.

Taylor is a girl who runs away from things. The “growing pains” that she endures focus on an event when she was 12 that really impacted her life. You don’t find out the exact details of what happened until about a third of the way into the story, which of course built the suspense of it.

When its finally revealed, I had a sense of “….wait, that’s it?” But after thinking about it more, I realized that little decisions that feel big at the time really can shape you in ways you can’t imagine. Especially when you’re young.

While I appreciated all the second chances Taylor, her family, Lucy and Henry experience, I struggled to stay interested in this book for the first half.

I felt like I knew where the story was going and nothing happened to disprove my predictions, so I was just waiting for it to happen…without too much excitement or intrigue.

For the most part, I felt fairly detached from Second Chance Summer, which really surprised me. I’ve determined its mainly because I didn’t connect with Taylor. While her struggles and relationships were interesting, I kept reading wanting to “see” more of her. Taylor is shy and is self-described as non-emotional, which came across in the writing and her personality.

If I’m honest, it’s also because some of the subject matter played into my own insecurities and fears – like Taylor’s broken friendships and lost time with her family. It’s hard to read book when it touches so closely to the things you’d rather not think about.

While this story is definitely sad in a lot of ways, don’t let that put you off of it. There are so many warm moments and times when you internally scream “YES! FINALLY!” It’s very rewarding that way.

I love that there are second and third chances – that message was clear and strong.


This story tackles loss and growing up and facing past mistakes. It’s written with true insight but at times with emotion that I felt distant from at times because of the timid main character. Second Chance Summer achieves a balance of sweet and sorrow, and I recommend it for contemporary fans.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Classy_Girl

    I read this one a long time ago and liked it a lot. The 4th of July party/date was adorable, and I really enjoyed Taylor’s relationship with her Dad. It made me tear up a little, but not bawl.