Okay, moving on!
Second Chance Summer fits somewhere in between. While degrading it to Jodi Picoult standard would be downright insulting for the author whose writing I admire and whose characters were quite well-constructed and thoughtful, I don’t think the ‘cancer’ issue was handled well enough for the significant role it played in this book (although I get that this novel was also about mending relationships), and it would’ve been better if we’d understood Taylor’s father better, as all I got was separate quirks that didn’t quite make up a whole person. Case in point:
- He likes bad puns, and he’s always cracking them. Taylor’s the only one who plays along.
- He doesn’t like oatmeal raisin cookies, but he loves licorice, particularly the black type.
- He’s a workaholic who gets all sorts of stuff FedExed to him while on holiday.
- The only way Taylor describes his pain and gradual deterioration is by abusing the adjective ‘winced’, sometimes more than four times in the same chapter. *winces*
These things in themselves make him interesting. But put them together and you don’t get a character in the same way that, say, Gus from The Fault in our Stars is. And while I really wanted to get attached to him, to cry for him in the same way that I cried for other cancer-struck characters, I really couldn’t. Because he never felt like a person. He never broke through the boundaries of the page.
And the love interest, Henry? The one who was supposed to be all hot and exciting? The one who readers were supposed to swoon over, along with Taylor?
I didn’t even like him. The romance happened so fast it felt forced and match-made, and reading about him kissing Taylor every five seconds was just, quite frankly, annoying and boring. It never felt real. For a newlywed couple, maybe this frantic love would’ve worked. But for two teenagers who were young and slightly awkward, who hadn’t seen each other in years, who didn’t really have SPARKS flying out of them?
It just didn’t feel right.
I have to say, however, that the author handles the many plotlines in this story remarkably well as a whole, and despite the ending and the relationships at the end of the story being fairly predictable, I really enjoyed the ride. There aren’t many YA books where the main character can balance having a best friend and a boyfriend at the same time, but Taylor can, and I loved how she was such a caring and sympathetic person.
At the end of the day, Second Chance Summer wasn’t anything groundbreaking, and it didn’t make me very weepy. I thought the father-daughter relationship should’ve been far stronger, and the author failed to make me connect to the love interest, who was an essential part of the story. While it was a nice contemporary read that really brought me back to the midst of summer (right now, Australia is cold) and I really did enjoy it, it’s not a book to immediately whizz up to the top of your TBR pile. Four stars–it was sweet and cute, and good for you Americans who are probably soaking up the summer sun (no, those definitely aren’t jealousy vibes you’re getting from this beach-loving girl).