It’s the middle of July, it’s been 100 degrees every day for the past week, and I am pretty much done with summer.
But still, I couldn’t resist reviewing this irresistibly summery book from the quintessential summer contemporary author, because even, if I can’t have a summery summer at least I can read about one.
Genre: YA, contemporary, romance
Rating: 4/5 stars
Favorite quote: “You can always find your way out, no matter how lost you are.”
First lines: “I eased open my bedroom door to check that the hallway was empty. When I was sure that it was, I shouldered my purse and closed the door behind me quietly, then took the stairs down to the kitchen two at a time. It was nine a.m., we were leaving for the lake house in two hours, and I was running away.”
Taylor Edwards’ life is turned upside down when her father is diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Since he only has 3 months to live, give or take some, Taylor’s family decides to spend their last summer together at their old lake vacation home in the Pennsylvania mountains.
Taylor hasn’t been to Lake Pocono since she was 12, and spending the summer there means reuniting with her childhood friends Henry and Lucy, who, after their falling-out, haven’t spoken to her for five years.
Struggling to cope with her father’s situation, her distant relationships with her siblings, and her rekindled crush on Henry, Taylor knows she can’t run from her problems this time. Maybe this summer will give her a second chance to make things right.
This book was pretty good, but definitely not 5-stars.
Taylor was a fairly boring character; though her defining trait is her tendency to run away from problems instead of facing them, there isn’t much else particularly memorable about her. We learn that she is terrible at public speaking, and is basically just a classic middle child.
But still, her emotional development was definitely a huge part of the plot.
I appreciated Taylor’s siblings, though her older brother Warren was a very stereotypical depiction of the “socially awkward genius”: he constantly spouts random facts, reads law school books all day, and can’t talk to girls.
You can’t get any more cliched than that, but still, I liked his character.
And I LOVED Taylor’s dad. Which made the whole book 10 times sadder. He had a superbly fleshed-out personality, and he was just so nice.
A prominent aspect of the story was the the growth of Taylor’s relationships with the rest of her family, and how they were affected by their limited time together… okay, that sounds extremely depressing but it was really sweet.
“Now that I knew that the time we had together was limited, I was holding on to it, trying to stretch it out, all the while wishing I’d appreciated what I’d had earlier.”
Wow, maybe I should spend less time in my room.
I also really enjoyed, as I mentioned earlier, the whole summery vibe of this book. The setting of the lake house, the mountains, and the whole community of Lake Pocono was wonderfully described, and it really felt like something I would write to embody the feeling of summer.
I didn’t think this book quite lived up to its potential, though.
When Taylor returns to Lake Pocono and sees Lucy and Henry after five years of separation, they are unbelievably cold and aggressive towards her. It’s revealed that this stems from a huge fight the three of them had years ago, and my curiosity was piqued wanting to find out what could have happened to make them so upset with her.
But when the big reveal finally came, it was disappointingly underwhelming. The “huge” falling-out turned out to be an extremely stupid and minuscule conflict… something that no one should still be that mad about FIVE YEARS later.
Yet Henry and Lucy unapologetically hated Taylor for this ridiculously petty conflict. And they’re supposed to be 17?
There was also a fair amount of stagnant filler towards the middle of the novel, but the writing was still entertaining.
I also liked how Matson included flashbacks to events that happened 5 years before the story, when Taylor, Henry and Lucy were 12. Before we found out the reason for their fight, these flashbacks generated a lot of suspense.
The ending was also great; very tearjerker-y, but I didn’t cry because, well, I just wasn’t in that mood.
Especially near the end, there was some completely gorgeous writing and truly heart-felt quotes… the ending was definitely the best part of the novel.
“A thousand moments that I had just taken for granted- mostly because I had assumed that there would be a thousand more.”
Needless to say, this is a really, really sad book.
Overall, I enjoyed my third read from Morgan Matson! I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a bittersweet summer contemporary.