Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my GR profile
My rating: 2/5
A thousand moments that I had just taken for granted- mostly because I had assumed that there would be a thousand more.
I'm not too sure where my dislike for this book stemmed from. With a 4.13 GR average and over 15,000 four/five star ratings , a family feel to the plot, and a summer romance, Second Chance Summer should have been right up my alley.
Maybe I'd set my expectations too high. Maybe I didn't "get it" or maybe it's because it didn't follow the plot we were given. Either way, in the blurb we're told this:
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
"They" are Taylor's family. After being diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer, Taylor's father's last wish is to spend the summer at their lake house in Pocono Mountains. However, I didn't see much of this "getting to know each other again" business. Apart from three breakfast trips with her dad, Taylor spends the majority of her time being miserable about the boy she left behind when she was twelve...
I found myself staring into space at work, and starting to think about Henry, something inside my head would snap to attention and remind me of what really mattered.
That particular excerpt is 67% into the book. By then, Taylor has made out/stalked/thought consistently only about Henry, her childhood boyfriend and how perfect he is and how amazing he is. Never once has she thought about her dying father.
Surely that's what this book is meant to be about? Making the most of the short time you have to spend with your loved ones? Making the most out of a shitty situation?
The major problem I had with Second Chance is Taylor herself. She's selfish, self-centred and when people call her out on it, she even gets mad.
"No," she [mom] interrupted me, moving another pot off a burner and slamming it down. "You didn't think. Because that would have involved thinking about someone else, wouldn't it? Someone other than yourself?"
I felt tears prick my eyes, and suddenly wanted nothing more than to go back to five minutes before, when I'd been riding my bike and everything had still been fine.
Her instinct is to run. She isn't responsible or mature enough to face up to the facts, to stare at them in the face and battle the problems. Instead, she runs away and never thinks about her family.
She never thinks about her father, who is suffering, who is dying, who doesn't have more than a few months left. Taylor doesn't care. As long as her lips are glued to Henry's, nothing else matters. As long as her social life is intact, she will be fine.
Only right at the end, when Robin (her father) has a less than a week left to live does she begin to think about her family. But it's too late by then. He's not there, he's very confused, he's in a lot of pain. Taylor blew her chance of spending time with her father because of hormones.
Don't get me wrong, I cried like a baby at the end of the book. My father isn't very well, he has a severe heart condition, and when he had a major heart attack last year, it landed him in hospital for almost a month. For a month, I didn't leave his bedside, because I was terrified that every breath would be his last. Even now, when he gets angry, or he's in pain, I freak out, because my father is my best friend, he's the man that taught me how to live and I cannot imagine my life without him.
So when Taylor made it all about her, it angered me. When she ran away instead of facing up to her problems or being there for her family (especially her younger sister), it made me so mad. When all she could think about was Henry and Lucy and life when she was twelve, I had to quietly close the book and read something else.
I couldn't quite wrap my head around the fact that Taylor's main problem was that a boy she left behind when she was twelve was mad at her, whilst her father is dying of pancreatic cancer. It was the sort of selfish, self-centred attitude that really grated on my nerves.
Unfortunately, that was a deal breaker.