Thursday 19 January 2017

Book ~ "Second Chances" (2012) Brenda Chapman

From Goodreads ~ It's the summer of 1971 and fifteen-year-old Darlene travels with her mother to cottage country. This year her wild cousin, Elizabeth, is staying with them in the hopes that time away from Toronto will straighten her out - but Elizabeth has other plans. It’s her summer mission to torment Darlene by manipulating her friends and seducing every eligible male in her path. 

Meanwhile Darlene is captivated by the mysterious strangers who rent the cottage down the road, particularly free-spirited Candy, who tells stories of traipsing across the United States with rock stars. 

Darlene is also friends with a reclusive journalist who will stop at nothing to pen the ultimate anti-war story. She, too, secretly dreams of becoming a writer but knows that her father will never allow it. 

When the connections between the young strangers and the war start to become clear, Darlene is presented with more choices than she would like.

It's the groovy summer of 1971 and Darlene is fifteen.  She lives in Ottawa (hometown of the author) and spends the summers in Cedar Lake, where her mother runs a convenience store for the cottagers (her father works in a mill in Ottawa and just comes up on the weekends), and she hangs out with her summer friends.  This summer Elizabeth, her seventeen-year-old cousin from Toronto, is staying with them.  She'd gotten too wild and her parents hope that spending the summer in the country will settle her down.  Elizabeth amuses herself by annoying Darlene.

Candy and Johnny are Americans who are renting the Davidson's cottage this summer along with their young son.  Darlene is intrigued by Candy, who is a free spirit who claims to have been best friends with Janis Joplin and hung out with Jim Morrison.  Darlene is friends with Gideon, an older gentleman who lives in Cedar Lake year 'round, delivers the mail and writes articles for the Globe and Mail, especially focusing on protesting the Vietnam War.  Darlene would like to be a writer when she grows up but her father wants her to have more stable traditional job like a secretary.

I've read a few books by this author and I enjoyed this one.  I like her writing style.   It is written in first person perspective in Darlene's voice.  As such, I'm assuming it's considered a youth/young adult book but I didn't find it immature in actions or characters.  I think people of all ages (15+) would find it engaging.

Though I was younger than Darlene when this story takes place, I could relate to the references to the music, clothing and TV shows.  "Going to town" for everyone in Cedar Lake meant going to Campbellford, which I've driven through many times to visit my in-laws.

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