Taylor has a habit of running away from her problems. As the middle child in a family with a genius for an older brother and a dance prodigy for a younger sister, Taylor is pretty ordinary. When her dad is diagnosed with cancer and given a few months to live, Taylor is forced to come to terms with a lot of things in her life and in herself. I enjoyed watching her learn things about herself and her family, and discovering it’s never too late for a second chance.
While I had trouble connecting with most of the characters, I found them likeable. I particularly liked Warren, and thought his fact-spewing and awkwardness were hilarious. I also liked Taylor’s dad, and how he had a distinct personality for a secondary character. The interactions between him and Taylor were funny, sweet, and touching.
As much as I liked this book, I didn’t love it the way I loved Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. I know it’s not fair to compare the two, but I’m finding it hard since Amy & Roger is one of my favourite books. Second Chance Summer was lacking that special something that made me love it. I connected with every single character in Amy & Roger, even the secondary characters that we just met briefly. I didn’t get that with Second Chance Summer. I also thought it was a bit too long, and the pacing was kind of slow at times.
On a personal note: as with my review for Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, I’d like to take a minute to talk about how this book affected me on a personal level. After reading the synopsis for this book, I can tell you that if it had been written by any other author, I probably wouldn’t have read it. A father dying of cancer - way too close to home. And while that may sound ridiculous since I wrotea book about cancer, I tend to avoid reading them. We know from the beginning that Taylor’s dad is going to die, but I cried my eyes out when it happened. I was only ten when my dad died, and even though he had been sick for two years, he was getting better, so we didn’t know he was going to die the way Taylor’s family knew. I cried so hard in their last scene together, and then when she got the letters from him - I’d give anything to have letters from my dad. I have a vivid memory of crying to my mum before my dad died saying how he wouldn’t be at my grade eight, high school, and college graduations, or at my wedding or any of the other huge life milestones, so this particular part hit me hard. I felt like Matson handled the whole illness and death thing well, and the emotions rang true.
Overall, Second Chance Summer was a good, emotional story about family, love, and taking advantage of second chances. I’d recommend it to those who enjoy contemporary young adult with a bit of emotional depth.