Taylor’s family might not be the closest-knit – everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled – but for the most part, they get along fine. Then they get news that changes everything: Her father has pancreatic cancer, and it’s stage four – meaning that there is basically nothing to be done. Her parents decide that the family will spend his last months together at their old summerhouse in the Pocono Mountains.
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 summer best friend is suddenly around, as is her first boyfriend. . . and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.
As the summer progresses, the Edwards become more of a family, and closer than they’ve ever been before. But all of them very aware that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance – with family, with friends, and with love.
I’m reprinting my review from Common Sense Media, where I gave it five stars:
Morgan Matson’s debut novel, “Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour,” was one of the best young adult books of 2010, so expectations were high for her sophomore release. The author doesn’t disappoint with this beautifully written exploration of how one fateful summer changes so much in a 17-year-old girl’s life. Matson manages to keep Taylor’s emotions running high — how could they not when she’s about to lose a parent? — while also sprinkling the sadness of anticipatory grief with moments of genuine humor and even romance.
Matson creates a protagonist who’s achingly real. Taylor is occasionally insecure (a classic middle child, she has a genius older brother and a ballet prodigy younger sister) and slightly clueless about how to handle her initial spark of attraction to Henry. While the romance is intense (Henry is quite the swoon-worthy love interest), it’s not all about stolen kisses in the rain. This is a story about the love between fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters, and lifelong friends. The plot will resonate deeply with any reader who has lost a parent. Kids, you should get to know — really know — your parents, the author is saying, because you carry them with you always, whether you know it or not.
Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing a review copy of the book.
“I looked back for a second into the living room and was struck by how small my dad looked into my grandfather’s arms. Probably almost like he had a long time ago, when he’d been Gelsey’s age, and younger, just a little boy himself. I eased the door behind me, giving my grandfather a moment alone with his son.”
“It hadn’t been simple, finding our way back to being together, especially with my loss so raw. But one thing I was learning about what happened when you stuck around — it usually seemed that other people were willing to stick by you as well.”
“I didn’t care if Paul saw me crying. It didn’t matter in the least. I had told my father what I needed to. I squeezed his hand, gently, and I felt him squeeze it back, so faintly, before he drifted off to sleep once again, as above us, the stars continued to fall.”
“There was a spark between us that I’d never felt with any of the other (four) guys that I’d kissed. When we were making out, it was almost impossible for me to keep my hands off of him, and kissing him could stop time and cause me to forget where I was.”