The Second Home,
by Christina Clancy
Publication: St. Martin’s Press; June 2, 2020
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. Tender and compassionate, incisive and heartbreaking, The Second Home is the story of a family you’ll quickly fall in love with, and won’t soon forget.
Oh, my heart and soul! This book! The Second Home is the debut novel releasing in June from author Christina Clancy. If this is her debut, all I have to say is that she has a ton to live up to with her next novel. I can’t remember the last time I was so engrossed and invested in a book!
Anyway, this is about the Gordon family. There are the wonderful and quirky parents, Ed and Connie, their daughters Ann and Poppy, and Michael, whom they adopt when he is a teenager. The family always spends their summers on the Cape in Wellfleet and they all have this magical dynamic until the summer of 2000. Ann takes a job babysitting for the wealthy Shaw family. Michael takes a landscaping job with Jason, which also puts him at the Shaw’s home most of the time, and the youngest, Poppy, learns to surf and get high all of the time. But then, things suddenly go very wrong in Ann’s life, which in turn, throws Michael’s life into a total uproar. But of course, I can’t tell you what happens or I would be spoiling everything.
Fast-forward about fifteen years and Ann is preparing to sell the family home in Wisconsin, as well as, their summer home in Wellfleet in light of their parents’ death. Poppy has spent all of these years traveling, surfing, and doing yoga all over the world and her relationship with Ann is strained/barely existent. Michael is doing his own thing with his own life, yet still misses his adopted family and still harbors enormous regrets over his relationship with Ann. Although heartbreaking, it’s truly family dysfunction at its best.
The Second Home was truly a five-star read for me despite some issues I had with it overall. The writing is beautiful, the characterization is detailed, and there is plenty of family drama. My biggest problem was with Ann, who was a completely unlikable character. She started out o.k. but quickly turned into a selfish, angry, and unreasonable version of herself. Yes, she experienced trauma and a life-changing turn of events, but her anger and resentment were misplaced and turned her into a flat, cold person. Furthermore, this woman had more mood swings than I could count. Why anyone wanted any sort of relationship with her by the end of the novel, I couldn’t guess.
Speaking of the ending… The ending was not my favorite of all time. Depending on the type of novel, I can be either happy or frustrated with ambiguous endings. Two days later and I am still thinking about the ending and trying to decide how I feel about it. I think I would have liked more definitive closure. But nevertheless, I loved this novel.
The Second Home comes with my highest recommendation for women’s fiction lovers, especially those that enjoy family drama that spans decades. Like me, you may not always agree with the characters or understand their motivations, but this one that you won’t be able to put down once you start reading.
*Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.