The Second Home by Christina Clancy – review

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3.5 stars

Blurb: After a disastrous summer spent at her family summer home on Cape Cod, seventeen-year-old Ann Gordon was left with a secret that changed her life forever, and created a rift between her sister, Poppy, and their adopted brother, Michael.

Now, fifteen years later, her parents have died, leaving Ann and Poppy to decide the fate of the Wellfleet home that’s been in the Gordon family for generations. For Ann, the once-beloved house is tainted with bad memories. Poppy loves the old saltbox, but after years spent chasing waves around the world, she isn’t sure she knows how to stay in one place.

Just when the sisters decide to sell, Michael re-enters their lives with a legitimate claim to the house. But more than that, he wants to set the record straight about that long ago summer. Reunited after years apart, these very different siblings must decide if they can continue to be a family–and the house just might be the glue that holds them together.

Told through the shifting perspectives of Ann, Poppy, and Michael, this assured and affecting debut captures the ache of nostalgia for summers past and the powerful draw of the places we return to again and again. It is about second homes, second families, and second chances.

My review: The Second Home is the story of the Gordon family who travel from Wisconsin to spend their summers on Cape Cod. In the summer that Ann Gordon is entering her senior year in high school, their happy family dynamic goes awry and never recovers from the shock. Years later, after the sudden death of their parents, the Gordon siblings are forced back together to face the events of that last summer together.

I very much enjoyed Christina Clancy’s style and I look forward to reading more from her in the future. She nails the messiness of family relationships. Ann, Poppy,  and Michael are wonderfully flawed individuals that made me want them all to have a happy ending to their family discord. Another great thing about the book is the setting in Wellfleet, MA. Clancy has captured the feeling of being on the Cape and the golden days of the Gordon children’s teen years. 

I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. Where I found fault with the novel was in Ann and Michael’s interactions with the  Shaw family. Ann was understandably foolish to get swept up in her attraction to Anthony Shaw, but she was not a stupid young woman. I couldn’t suspend disbelief long enough to believe Ann and Michael would accept anything Anthony said without talking to each other first. Even after it becomes apparent that Anthony lied to each of them, they believed the worst of each other. 

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advanced copy of the novel.