This is an entirely predictable, paint-by-numbers, rip-your-heart-out-and-stomp-on-it coming of age YA cancer book—the very kind that Hazel sneered at in The Fault in Our Stars. It’s full of emotionally manipulative scenarios, teenagers making remarkably bad decisions with remarkably flawed logic (as teenagers are wont to do), and more typos than I could easily forgive, but ye gods! It hurts so good!
Second Chance Summer doesn’t offer anything new to the cancer book subgenre, but it does not come to the table empty-handed. The picture Matson paints of a distant, not very affectionate family pulling together in the face of impending tragedy and fumbling their way through getting to know each other is so vivid it’s painful. I felt the awkwardness, the frustration, the insecurity and uncertainty of a teenage girl who wants desperately to stop running from her problems and make connections with her loved ones but doesn’t know how. I felt like throwing my Kindle against a wall when the main character let chance after chance pass by without saying what she needed to in order to mend her broken friendships. I felt so much that I could keep on churning out these terrible run-on sentences until words no longer make sense and my husband has to stage a keyboard intervention.
Yes, it’s a typical cancer book. You know exactly what you’re getting going in (a solid kick in the feels), and that’s a good thing. It’s the kind of emotional rollercoaster you need to be able to brace yourself for. I think I need to read a book like this every once in a while just to reassure myself that I’m not some sort of sociopath and can actually feel deep empathy for well-written, relatable characters.
So thanks, book I don’t remember buying by author I’ve never heard of. Sometimes I wonder.