Second Chance by Jane Green
Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published 2007 by Viking Adult
Purchase: [Amazon] [Book Depository]
This book is about a bunch of screwed up people who used to be friends coming together again over a mutual loss. Holly, Saffron, Olivia, Paul, and Tom used to know each other twenty years ago. They grew up together. However, as it usually goes, they grew apart over the years, and eventually lost contact with one another. But not Tom. Tom managed to keep in touch with each one of them, no matter how far apart they were. Sadly, Tom is killed in a terrorist attack.
These four friends are brought together at his memorial. Holly has “the perfect life.” Two beautiful children, a beautiful house, and a successful husband. She puts on a smile for the world, but is she really happy?
Saffron moved to LA to be an actress. She is somewhat successful, and is dating someone famous, whom she will only name as P. However, she has her own issues, and so does “P.”
Olivia is newly single after her boyfriend of seven years tells her he is no longer happy. She thought she would marry him. Now she doesn’t know what to do.
Paul and his wife Anna have been trying to have children for years with no success. They have nearly depleted their savings account on IVF treatments and to no avail. Anna doesn’t want to give up, but knows she can’t go on like this. All she wants is to be a mother, and she does not know how to deal with the fact that it’s just not in the cards for her. Paul would do anything for Anna. All he wants to do is make her happy, but he can’t give her what she wants the most. He knows she would be an amazing mother, and it kills him that she will never have the chance to be one.
Life just is not fair. Now that these friends are brought back together over this devastating loss, they will be there for each other, help one another grow, and, hopefully, each be given a second chance at happiness.
I quite liked this book. I had heard some mixed things about it—for example that the rapidly shifting points of view were somehow confusing or distracting. I didn’t find that. It wasn’t really shifts in points of view. It was just an omniscient narrator changing focus at times. I thought it worked with this story, because it wasn’t just about one person—it was about all of these people and how they grow and change over the course of the novel. You wouldn’t have been able to see how much they grew if you didn’t know what was going on in their heads or in their lives. I thought it worked, and worked well.
Not only did it work in that sense, but it also allowed the reader to make connections with the characters, and feel sympathy or empathy for what they were going through. It is hard to do that when you are not given the opportunity to connect with them. Through the omniscient narrator, I found that the characters were all believable and relatable.
What I really liked about this book was that the characters were in real life situations and were able to grow in ways that were not only completely plausible, but might also generate hope for readers in similar circumstances. The characters did not need to be thrown into new and more promising circumstances to find hope (which is generally unrealistic). But instead they learned to be happy with the cards they were dealt. They learned to accept their circumstances for what they were, and to be true to themselves in those circumstances. As Maya Angelou said, “if you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” I found that was what this book was all about. And I really enjoyed it. Thumbs up!
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.