One moment Taylor’s dad is a perfectly healthy man with a back ache; the next moment he has been given four months to live because the back ache is really advanced pancreatic cancer. Life has become a matter of waiting for the inevitable while friends and neighbors cast pitying looks. As Taylor says, “it made the condolences odd – as if people were saying how sorry they were that my house had burned down when it was still intact but with an ember smoking nearby, waiting.” (p. 10)
Taylor’s dad has asked for the family to spend their last summer together at their lake house in the Poconos, a place they hadn’t visited in five years. Taylor isn’t eager to go – on their last summer there she lost both her boyfriend and her best friend because of her own actions and she’s not eager to face them again. She has always tended to run away from her problems, but now she will have to face them. As she encounters Henry (her former boyfriend) and Lucy (her former best friend) she has to figure out how to make peace with the past. She also has to figure out how to say goodbye to her dad. This is a summer full of second chances, and it is up to Taylor to make sure she doesn’t waste them.
Every once in a while, there is a book that I love so much that I find myself hiding in my office to finish it. Not only did I hide in my office this week, I sat at my desk crying through the last pages. I picked Second Chance Summer out at the public library on a whim and I couldn’t put it down. Not only is it a compelling story, but Matson is a beautiful writer. I cannot wait to get it for my media center and start booktalking it to my students. Highly, highly recommended!