#BookReview: The Second Chance Year by Melissa Wiesner

Scattered Tale Tries To Be Both RomCom And Women’s Fiction. Straight up, I’m fully aware that this is one of those reviews where many will rate this book at 5* for the exact reason I’m deducting a star here (though as you’ll see if you too peruse the reviews, at least some of my commentary will also mirror many of the existing 2* reviews as I write this review early in the morning on the US East Coast on release day for this book). Namely, the preachy hyper-focus on workplace discrimination and outright sexual harassment and even sexual assault… in what is ostensibly trying to be a romcom. If you approach this as a romcom – and perhaps that was my failing here, approaching it in such a way… these issues are far too heavy and completely drag the story down.

However, for those that approach this tale perhaps *wanting* the more Women’s Fiction side of it, where such heavy issues may be more expected, there you’ll get the heaviness the same, but also with the levity that the attempt at also being a romcom brings to the table. So the tale is still scattered, but when approached in such a manner, it likely won’t feel as off-putting. Hell, it may even feel quite a bit refreshing.

And of course my other failing here that must be mentioned is my love of The Family Man, the late 90s/ early 2000s movie with Nic Cage and Tea Leoni. It is my go-to reference for “glimpse” type tales such as this, where the main character is allowed to relive some portion of their life over. And while also a somewhat serious drama itself (with quite a bit of comedy), it was nowhere near as heavy as this book was fairly often. Also having this tale set in the end of year season – as that movie was – didn’t help me completely separate the two, but again, this is likely a failing of mine that perhaps some other readers may share.

Overall, the book actually does both of its scattered foci quite well… it simply fails in the combination, at least when one is expecting more of a “glimpse” based romcom. As mentioned previously, if approached from more of a Women’s Fiction tale, it works rather well.

For those potentially concerned that it doesn’t meet the full requirements of a “romance”… it does, actually – at least every rule I’m personally aware of. And for those concerned about spice level… this one will satisfy the “clean” crowd (while perhaps being too heavy for the “sweet” crowd, though perhaps not) in that the closest anything gets to any “action” – other than the sexual assault(s) – is heavy kissing and waking up in the same bed.

Ultimately one of those tales that will likely be at least somewhat divisive due to the dichotomies I’ve discussed here, it could also do quite well in certain circles and when approached from a certain direction. Recommended.

This review of The Second Chance Year by Melissa Wiesner was originally written on December 5, 2023.