There Will Come a Time – book review

There Will Come a Time

There Will Come a Time is a touching and bittersweet novel, written by Carrie Arcos.

Mark knows grief. Ever since the accident that killed his twin sister, Grace, the only time he feels at peace is when he visits the bridge on which she died. Comfort is fleeting, but he feels like it’s almost within reach when he’s standing on the wrong side of the railing. Almost.

Grace’s best friend, Hanna, says she understands what he’s going through. But she doesn’t. She can’t. As her twin, Mark should have known Grace as well as he knows himself. Yet when he reads her journal, it’s as if he didn’t know her at all.

As a way to remember Grace, Hannah convinces Mark to complete Grace’s bucket list from her journal. Mark’s sadness, anger, and growing feelings for Hanna threaten to overwhelm him, but Mark can’t back out. He’s made a promise to honour Grace, and this is his one chance to set things right.

*

There Will Come a Time was another one of those books about grief and death, but not one that should be overlooked. This book is ultimately about what makes us the person we are, and that was really interesting to read about. This book poses the question: if you lose your twin, do you lose yourself? I liked seeing the journey the characters went on to try and figure out their place in the world again when someone close to them has gone. I think the fact that the main character is a twin and his twin tragically died was the real hook in this book. I’ve read a lot of books similar to this one now and without that, it would have felt slightly repetitive and unoriginal.

I liked how strong this book started off. It told me everything I wanted to know and sometimes and there was no mystery behind the events, which meant that it was easy to dive right into this novel and not be questioning things. I felt as though I was immediately a part of Mark’s world and I was enveloped in his feelings and thoughts. And while that was engrossing, it wasn’t always enjoyable. Let me explain. Being in the mind of someone like Mark – someone so broken by their loss – is a difficult thing to experience. We see first hand how he is feeling and what he is thinking, and that’s very confronting at times. His pain and agony felt incredibly real, but I’m grateful that this book was so raw and realistic.

There was a particular aspect of this book that reminded me of Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, but definitely a lot more sad. Of course. Have you not read any books by Morgan Matson? You’re practically bound to read them with a smile on your face. So what I mean when I say it reminded me of that particular Morgan Matson book is that Mark discovers Grace’s journal and a list of things that she wanted to do that year. Then, of course, Mark and some of his close friends decide to do the things on Grace’s list in her honour. That was genuinely beautiful and I loved seeing how Mark wasn’t completely on board with the idea at first but he finally embraced the list and decided to live for Grace as well as himself.

Even though we didn’t know Grace at all during the novel, I felt as though I knew her by the end. Her little ‘to-do’s gave us insights into her mind and her notebooks filled with memories and raw thoughts made Grace feel as though she was still there and her voice was so present, even though she was not. But she was present in other ways and stayed alive in Mark’s memories and in the fun and scary adventures he went on in search of finding a way out of his anger and heal his heart. These adventures were the most enjoyable parts to read about because each time, I could see that Mark was starting to heal more and more and realise that him living wasn’t betraying Grace in any way and he couldn’t blame himself for her death.

Another thing I absolutely loved was the inclusion of an online group that was called ‘Twinless Twins’. They were all people who had lost their twins and they were reaching out to people in the same situation. I liked seeing Mark get to know these people more and eventually even meeting them in real life. They offered sage advice and really played a big part in Mark learning to move on from his past while still remembering and honouring Grace. And that’s one of the most important messages in this book – that your pain and suffering may not really end, but you have to hope that there will come a time when it lessens to a degree that you can live with.

There was so much about this book to love, even the tiniest of details. For example, I loved how unique Mark’s school was and how it was prominent in the storyline. Mark went to a performing arts high school, which was always alive and buzzing with energy. I loved seeing what went on there because I always wished I could have gone to one of those schools, and so it was like I was experiencing it through this book. And while this book is about death and grieving, it is just as much about life and learning to love it as the sad stuff. In my opinion, you can’t have either the good or the bad without each other and while the good stuff doesn’t necessarily soften the bad things, the bad things don’t ruin the good things or make them unimportant. Oops, I think I just quoted Doctor Who there. But I think that’s an important thing to remember and it’s something that Mark learns throughout the novel.

As well as getting to know Mark, I also really enjoyed meeting Hanna and Lily and Pete and Jenny and Sebastian and I felt like they all added something to the novel, as well as providing Mark with support and friends he could learn to trust again after shutting himself off from the world. While death is cruel and unfair, it is a part of life that we all have to learn to cope with and understand that we can and will make it through. All we can do is hope that given time, those painful memories will turn to warm ones, giving us nostalgic feelings which we accompany with a smile, not tears. But missing someone isn’t a bad thing. The love we have for that person is never gone from our hearts, we just learn to deal with the pain better. I’d give There Will Come a Time by Carrie Arcos a score of 9 out of 10. If you’re in the mood for a deep and touching book, I recommend giving this one a go!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!

Second Chance Summer – book review

Second Chance Summer

Second Chance Summer is a beautiful and heart-wrenching book, written by Morgan Matson.

Taylor Edward’s family isn’t the closest-knit – everyone is a little too busy and over-scheduled – but for the most part, they all get along. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

When crammed into a much smaller place which is 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 best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend… and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

The family grows closer as the summer progresses and they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second change – with family, with friends, and with love.

*

Second Chance Summer is one of those books that you just don’t want to end. It was so good that I would be happy to keep living in that world forever. If you’ve read some of my other reviews, you’ll know that I’m the biggest Morgan Matson fan ever. I’m in love with Since You’ve Been Gone, Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour and now Second Chance Summer as well. I absolutely love the way Morgan writes and how she is able to weave such compelling and intriguing stories. She can make me laugh and she can make me cry like a little baby. Both of those things happened when I read this book, just to be clear.

I think my favourite thing about this book would be how Taylor, our main character, is affected by her father’s terminal illness. Basically, her family moves back to their lake house for the summer – their last summer all together – and Taylor has to fix broken friendships, face challenges at her new job while also dealing with the fact that her father won’t see the beginning of autumn. I enjoyed reading about how all of these issues intertwined and how Taylor learned to deal with all of the things going on in her life without just running away from her problems. I especially loved one of the messages this book contains – just because you run away from a problem, it doesn’t mean it no longer exists. Running away isn’t the answer. We have to face our issues head-on and stand strong and brave in the face of challenge and you’ll come out stronger in the end.

Another thing I felt was really well written in this book was Morgan Matson’s handling of a terminal illness. Taylor’s dad has a cancer that will slowly seep away his life over the summer, which was devastating to read about. This book, for the most part, wasn’t devastating though. I still had a lot of laughs and Taylor’s dad was funny and always looked on the bright side. But even though there were a lot of happy and sunny moments in this novel, her father’s illness was always looming overhead, like a dark cloud. It pulled at my heart with every laugh, reminding me that the ending of this book might require some Kleenex.

Let’s talk a bit more about that before I get any further, because I definitely don’t want to end this review on a sad note. This was a happy book, just the ending was heart-wrenching. I’m pretty sure you can all guess how this book ends. It’s obvious. It’s meant to be guessed; there’s no mystery to it. But that doesn’t mean I was in any way prepared for what it was going to be like. I was up at midnight, determined to finish the rest of this book. I didn’t want to end with a couple of chapters to go, waking up in the morning to what tragedies I knew lay ahead. So I pressed on. Oh my god, it’s literally making me cry just thinking about this. I’m actually crying as I’m writing this. Deep breath, Sarah.

So the ending of this book had me bawling my eyes out at about one in the morning. Let me paint you a picture. Oh crap, if a picture is worth a thousand words, does that mean I have to explain this in a thousand words? Soooo not doing that. I’ll spare you the pain. But basically, I was lying in my bed with only my bedside lamp creating a glow in my room. It was pitch black outside and I could hear the wind rustling the leaves on the trees and making my wind chimes ding. Unsuspecting and unaware, I hit the point in the novel from which there would be no return. When the first tear fell, I knew there was no going back. Tears continued to fall faster and faster until I was reduced to a blubbering mess. I’m not a pretty cryer. And then when I read the part about the stars… oh man. I had to put down the book and hold my head in my hands, trying not to cry to loud so that I didn’t wake the entire house. The ending wasn’t all sad, though. It was beautiful and touching and hopeful. It reminded me that people dying is a normal part of the life cycle. Everything has its time and everything must die. But sometimes it’s not fair that the most wonderful and beautiful people are snatched away from us too soon. All we can do is be happy that we were able to spend time with these magnificent people and let them live on in our memories.

Wow, was that too sad? Are you okay there? I think it’s time to move on to a positive note. Summer! Who doesn’t love summer? I sure do. And there’s nothing I love more about books set in summer, like all of Morgan Matson’s books. Okay, I don’t love Australian summers where it’s 40 degrees celsius or 104 degrees fahrenheit everyday. With that type of heat, it’s even too hot to go to the beach. So I prefer to sit inside and read about the perfect summer. It’s even better if I read these books in winter, because for a while I get to escape the cold and imagine eating ice-cream with all of the characters. I loved going to the beach, eating ice-cream, seeing fireworks and staying out all night, all without leaving my bedroom. Morgan’s writing feels so incredible real, and that’s one of the things I love most about her books.

As I touched on a little before in regards to facing your problems, Taylor undergoes a massive transformation throughout the novel, one that we particularly notice towards the end. I loved seeing her develop from a fearful, somewhat shy girl into one of the bravest people I’ve ever read about. It takes immense inner strength to live through such a tough time like she had to endure and to admit that you’ve done wrong and lay out your feelings to other people. I was so so proud of Taylor in the end and I loved getting to know her.

One character that I had mixed feelings on was Henry, Taylor’s ex-boyfriend. Something that I found hilarious about him was that he seemed to show up wherever Taylor was. Their initial interactions were so cringe-worthy that I found myself wincing every time he seemingly appeared out of nowhere. And then he seemed to not play much of a part in the novel until towards the end. And then, I felt like he was too forgiving sometimes and that some of his reactions were a little unrealistic. However, I absolutely loved his presence and how he meant so much to Taylor. Their love was beautiful to watch bloom.

All of the other characters in this novel were all intricately woven and were complex and in no way one-dimensional. Except maybe Taylor’s boss. All he wanted to do was go fishing. I’m kidding. So I loved reading about everyone from Taylor’s socially awkward brother to her talented little sister, to Taylor’s best friend Lucy and the other people she worked with. Each character was interesting and enjoyable to read about. And I felt like something that made me fall in love with the characters just that much more was how this book included flashbacks from summers gone by. It helped me to get a better understanding of each character, not only Taylor but also Lucy and Henry. Because of this, it was so evident to see character development and how the characters had changed. There was also a little bit of mystery surrounding why exactly Taylor had lost her friends and had broken up with Henry. Pieces of the past were revealed throughout the course of the novel and because of that, it kept me hooked the whole time.

Phew, this review is a long one! Sorry guys! Just about done now. So basically, this is a fun summer read with a tinge of sadness that deals with issues such as loss, love and life. This is a book I won’t be forgetting anytime soon and I will definitely reread this book in the summer. I urge all of you to read this beautiful book, as well as Since You’ve Been Gone and Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour if you haven’t already. I’d give Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson a score of 9.5 out of 10. Have you read this book or are you considering reading it? What do you think of Morgan Matson’s other books? Give me yo’ thoughts XD

A huge thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!

Since You’ve Been Gone – book review

Since You've Been Gone

Since You’ve Been Gone is the stunning and enthralling book by Morgan Matson.

Sloane was the one who pulled Emily out of her shell and made her life an interesting one. But right before what should have been the most epic summer of them all, Sloane disappears without a word. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

One the list are thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily wouldn’t normally dare to try. But what if doing all of these things meant bringing her best friend back? Who knows what she’ll find in the end?

*

I absolutely loved reading Since You’ve Been Gone. This is definitely one of my favourite YA contemporary books I’ve ever read. I loved every second of reading it. I think one of the things I loved so much about this book was just that it was a really easy, cutesty read. I wasn’t worrying constantly about whether certain characters would make it to the end of the book alive, which was relaxing. I was hooked from the very beginning and I could hardly bare to put this book down. It was absolutely stunning.

The characters in this book were all dazzling and unique. I loved spending time with all of them. Emily really grew as a person in this book. At the start, she would be constantly thinking of what Sloane would do. She wasn’t very confident and all she wanted to do was to complete the list, which she was hoping would lead her to Sloane. But during the novel, Emily became a braver person who was confident to talk to new people, make friends, and do things she never thought she’d do before. I loved watching her grow and confront her fears. By the end of the book, she was such an independent, outgoing person and I wouldn’t be able to recognise the old Emily if I hadn’t watched her become this new person before my very eyes. I like how she didn’t feel as though she needed to be with Sloane the whole time in the end and how she started to live as her own person. This journey I went on with Emily is definitely a journey I’ll remember for a long time.

I also loved the little time I spent with Sloane. There were some scenes in this book written from the past. I enjoyed reading them and seeing how Emily and Sloane got along. Sloane had such a vibrant, bubbly personality. She was so confident and she would push Emily to do things outside her comfort zone. I cannot explain how much I loved all the characters in this book. Frank, Dawn, Collins, Emily’s brother, Benji… They were all amazing people to spend time with. There were some really funny parts in this book, and also some extremely cute parts. I laughed, I cried… Everything about this book was perfect.

Another thing that I loved about this book was the plot. I liked seeing how some things that were mentioned early in the book were brought back into it later. People we met before often came back into the story. The things Emily had to do for the list was really amusing to read about. I really had fun doing these things beside her.

I only found one bad thing about reading this book, but I guess it’s not even a bad thing. But… this book made me crave summer. Really badly. Where I am right now, it’s winter. In this book, the characters were on summer holidays. They ate ice-creams, went to the beach, went to parties, and did so many other fun things that people do in the summer. I found myself wishing it was the end of the year so summer would finally be happening in the part of the world I live in. I even started writing a list of things I’m going to do over the summer. Nothing like Emily’s list from Sloane, but a list nonetheless. Minus the bit about kissing a stranger. And minus the bit about skinny dipping. I’m craving the warmth. I could almost feel the heat seeping through the pages of the book. I could almost taste the sweet summer breeze. I could almost feel the heat of the asphalt seeping into my feet. The descriptions in this book were utterly breathtaking.

Overall, this book is one of my favourite books I’ve ever read. I can’t even find a proper fault in this book, that’s how amazing it is. It’s absolutely beautifully written, the characters are stunning and I completely loved the plot. I’m going to have to give Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson a score of 10 out of 10. I definitely recommend this book to everyone who loves a cutesy contemporary!

A huge thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!