Adult Fiction book review

The Second Home by Christina Clancy

43312830Christina Clancy’s debut novel will have readers both intrigued by and invested in the well-loved Cape Cod summer home and the members of the Gordon family who faithfully traveled there each summer long after the final pages end. Fans of J. Courtney Sullivan and Jennifer Weiner will delight in this novel, releasing June 2, 2020.

The Second Home is both a novel of family complexity and secrets as well as a novel of place. The time spent at their beloved home in Wellfleet, Cape Cod forever altered the future of three siblings.

The Gordon family lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ed and Connie are both teachers and they love spending their summers at their centuries old family home in Cape Cod. Their daughters, Ann and Poppy, are about as different as sisters can be, but they enjoyed a childhood together. Now in their teens, the dynamic between them has shifted a bit. Much of the reason for the shift is Michael Davis. Ann encouraged her family to take Michael under their wing, and he fit in so well, that he was later adopted at the age of sixteen. Michael’s past was brutal and full of unbelievable pain. His father, a boxer, was injured into a vegetative state during a boxing match, never coming back home or even saying goodbye. His mother’s new boyfriend took pleasure in beating and abusing Michael. Michael was alone with his mother, as she died from AIDS, and then truly alone after that. He never really knew love until the Gordon’s welcomed him into their orbit, and he really could hardly believe his luck.

We begin with Ann in the summer of 2000. Excited to earn some money, Ann takes a babysitting job for the wealthy Shaw family. Though she finds it hard to admit to herself, Ann loved Michael more than she should now that he is her “brother,” but she is unable to express it. Instead, she lavishes the attention from, Anthony Shaw, the wealthy father of the children she babysits, which constitutes more or less driving them all over the island in the family’s Jag. When she is with the Shaw’s, Ann feels important and respected, until the night that everything changes. Ashamed, scared, and betrayed by a horrible situation, Ann finds herself unable to ever fully cope with the pain of that fateful summer on Cape Cod.

Poppy has recently been feeling left out by all the attention that Ann receives, and she grows closer to Michael, enjoying the time they spend together, bonding with her new brother. But then she meets Kit, a local surfer, who introduces her into a whole new world of surfing, partying, drinking, and drugs. Realizing that she is made for surfing, Polly comes into her own, purposefully leaving her family behind and traveling all over the world. She becomes estranged from Ann, Michael, and her parents, only coming home once in a decade.

The remainder of the book takes place in 2015, when as adults, Ann and Poppy must converge back on the Wellfleet summer home to get it ready to sell, after the tragic death of their parents. In the process, the truth of what really happened 15 years ago comes to light. Now they just need Michael to fill in the missing piece of what is left of their family.

This story has it all – blackmail and secrets, loss and heartbreak, beautiful settings and descriptions of beaches and coves, love and romance, healing and forgiveness, hope, and the unshakable bonds of family.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the advanced review copy of this title.

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