The Second First Time follows Sage and Jonathan, authors who have the same publisher, but live on opposite sides of the country. In addition, they’ve only met face to face once, at a party, and yet they have become such good friends over social media and FaceTime, they’re considering taking a road trip together.
However, when Jonathan’s marriage breaks up, he ends up breaking Sage’s heart at the same time by pulling out of their trip at the last minute. Sage breaks off all contact with Jonathan, but when, a year later, she receives some terrible news, Jonathan is the one she turns to. They haven’t spoken in all that time, and yet the old familiarity is instantly there, and when Jonathan suggests taking that trip again, Sage finally agrees.
What follows is a journey of friendship, discovery and love. The Second First Time is a sweet novel, a feel-good ride through life and love and mistakes that I could definitely resonate with.
Throughout the novel, I felt like Sage was talking to me. I could imagine us sitting in a coffee shop and listening to her telling me the story of that trip she takes with Jonathan. I really liked that about this novel. It felt personal.
There are some beautifully crafted phrases, and as I was reading it, I highlighted a couple (no spoilers)
‘If a heart could smile – I mean physically morph its shape into that of the happy face – then mine just did. A soft one, without parting lips, or showing teeth. One of satisfaction, a faintly smoldering ember in an otherwise snuffed-out flame.’
‘Some guys get Ferrari’s when they hit mid-life. I got answers.’
(That last one is a particular favourite)
However, at times, Sage sounded very much younger than her mid-forties (which is what she is in this book). In fact, until that was revealed, I’d assumed someone in her mid-twenties, still trying to discover who she was. And this made me rather annoyed at times. I wanted to yell ‘for goodness sake woman, man up tell him what you think/how you feel’.
Jonathan, on the other hand, was very much the grown up in this friendship. If he was hurt, he told her (and why), if he was happy, he let it show. I felt that Elisa pandered to stereotypes that make guys say ‘I just don’t understand women’. No matter if someone has hurt you, in your mid-forties, you’re much more likely to call them out on it. But Elisa sends Jonathan so many mixed signals, I’m surprised he stuck around.
But these are minor irritations in a lovely, very easy read. And if that’s what you’re into, you won’t be disappointed.