Review: Second Nature: a love story

Why I picked it: The plot sounded interesting, different, and I was ready for a darker story.

Synopsis: A fierce and moving tale of one woman’s fight for her identity and her life when fate holds out a second chance. Sicily Coyne was just thirteen when her father was killed in a school fire that left her face disfigured. Twelve years later, a young surgeon, Eliza Cappadora, offers hope in the form of a revolutionary new surgery that may give Sicily back the grace and function she lost. Raised by a dynamic, tenacious aunt who taught her to lead a normal life, and engaged to a wonderful man who knew her long before the accident, Sicily rejects the offer: She knows who she is, and so do the people who love her. But when a secret surfaces that shatters Sicily’s carefully constructed world, she calls off the wedding and agrees to the radical procedure in order to begin a new life.

Her beauty restored virtually overnight, Sicily rushes toward life with open arms, seeking new experiences, adventures, and, most of all, love. But she soon discovers that her new face carries with it risks that no one could have imagined. Confronting a moral and medical crisis that quickly becomes a matter of life and death, Sicily is surrounded by experts and loving family, but the choice that will transform her future, for better or worse, is one she must make alone.

An intense and moving story of courage, consequence, and possibility, Second Nature showcases the acclaimed storyteller at her very best.

Type: Fiction

Quick Take: Before writing this review I read a few reviews online to read reactions to the novel.  While it's well crafted I struggled with a few things in the book.  What I'm learning, about myself, is that I need to stay away from books with fire. 

When Sicily is thirteen she loses her father in a fire and she herself is badly burned. As an adult, she has built a life for herself, filled with friends and is engaged to a wonderful man.  After learning a deep, dark secret about her fiance, she calls off the wedding and decides to go forward with a life changing surgery that turns her from burn victim to beauty. Post surgery she finds love but the isolation is overwhelming.  Her life may have been better before the surgery.

One reviewer wrote:

I challenge anyone to read Ms. Mitchard's description of that fire and NOT be affected in some way; I found myself haunted by it. Her words will mesmerize and terrify you simultaneously, and at the end of the first chapter you will not be able to put the book down.

Having lived through a fire (I was actually in my house with my nine year old son), I am still haunted by the smells, the crackle of the flames, the post events...  if you don't have first hand experience, it's hard to explain/understand how it impacts you the rest of your life. Let me get off my soapbox and back to my review...

The description of the fire wasn't emotional for me, it didn't haunt me.  That said, the fire is just one chapter and told from a young girls eye so I moved past that quickly since this novel is 'post fire'.  What bothered me was that the novel revisited events/feelings over and over and over.  

Now that I'm done reading the book, I like it more than I did while reading it.  The concept was great and I loved the ending.

I seem to be alone in my opinion as this novel is getting 5 star reviews on  I'm sure it has to do with my personal experience. 

Book'd Out and I read/chatted about this one via comments, neither of us loved it.  Click here to read her review.

Rating: 3 stars
Source: Review copy, NetGalley