Saturday, June 14, 2008

Second Chance

Title: Second Chance
Author: Joy Collins
Publisher: iUniverse
ISBN: 978-0-45602-4
Genre: Mainstream, Contemporary
Websites: &

Second Chance is a complex story with interweaving subplots. It is about the trials and tribulations of a woman stuck in the “sandwich generation.” Sara Weber has a seemingly perfect life and marriage, at least up until the time her stepdaughter moves in, bringing with her all of her problems. Sara is now faced with the reality of not only having to deal with a college-age-party-girl stepdaughter, but also with the ex-wife who epitomizes the word “bitch,” and who could have garnered several Oscars for her drama queen moments. Add to that a spineless, non-confrontational husband who appeases his ex-wife to the detriment of his wife’s feelings, an ever increasing senile mother, and a stepmother of her own who may have kept her from her own father, and you get one fantastic novel.

Sara’s emotions run the gamut as she is condemned for her actions, whether good or bad – right or wrong. When Sara’s stepdaughter moves in to go to the nearby college, Sara doesn’t know whether to try to be a stepmother to the young lady or to emotionally keep her distance. She did not want to have to deal with the evil ex-wife and all of her machinations, but she wanted to get to know her husband’s only child. When the stepdaughter moves in and Sara sees the father/daughter relationship (however complicated it might be), she finds herself having to deal with her own complicated memories of her own father, mother and stepmother. While all the drama of the stepdaughter/husband/ex-wife is playing out under her roof in Arizona, Sara has to deal with placing her senile mother in a nursing home back East. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an attorney for Sara’s deceased father calls Sara’s sister. The attorney has information that causes a great deal of confusion, and the only person with answers is Sara’s own stepmother (a woman she hasn’t seen or spoken to in thirty years.) The answers Sara’s stepmother possesses hold the key that opens Sara’s eyes to the reality of her life. Will there be a second chance?

I liked that the novel was narrated by Sara. I actually laughed out loud at some of Sara’s unspoken witty quips. It was laugh out loud funny at moments, and poignant at others. I found it very easy to relate to Sara and the mess she found herself in, even though I have never had such experiences.

Second Chance is a well-constructed story with a solid plot and excellent subplots. All of the characters were incredibly contemporary and real, and the minor characters advanced the plot very well. There are a lot of comparisons to be made of the characters’ actions, and it is interesting to see how the choices that were made affected many lives. The author did a stellar job of weaving a tightly knit plot and bringing everything to a final resolution.

I was hooked from the first page, and I could not wait to see what twist and turn was coming next. Therefore, I highly recommend this book.


Unknown said...

An excellent review; I had read the book a few weeks ago, and this sums it up quite well. I think I would be inclined to read it after seeing this review, if I hadn't already done so.

J.Norman said...

Read this book! This is a warm and sensitive book about love the second time around. It is not predictable and you will keep the pages turning. Joy Collins is a wonderful, talented storyteller.

Anne Howe