Sadie is having a Very Bad Year. She has lost her job, her boyfriend, and her apartment—all because of her big mouth. Despite her lack of belief in magic, when a fortune teller offers her chance at a redo, Sadie follows the instructions and…nothing happens. Dejected, she finds solace in sharing a kiss with her brother’s best friend Jacob. When she wakes up the next morning, she finds herself in her old apartment next to her old boyfriend and late to work at her old job. It’s January 1st of the year before and Sadie has a chance to salvage the life she lost. But as she navigates her new reality, she finds herself lingering on her kiss with Jacob and wondering if her only mistake was asking for a redo.

I literally could not put this book down! This story is filled with all kinds of amazing goodness—love, laughs, loss, and lots of pastries. Sadie is an incredibly relatable character as she recounts the worst year of her life—who among us hasn’t wished for a do over once or twice? Even through her disbelief, she manages to take advantage of her second chance year, whether it’s what she expected or not.

From the moment, and I mean the literal second, Jacob was introduced, I was in love. I love me a good morally gray, shadow daddy, slightly villainous book boyfriend as much as the next girl, but there is just something so sweet about a cinnamon roll book boyfriend that steals my heart and Jacob is just that. Despite the (very skewed) lens that Sadie sees him through, his personality and feelings shine right through. When someone says “not all men,” they are absolutely right because Jacob Gray would never. Absolute top tier book boyfriend.

In addition to the god-level book boyfriend that is Jacob, Sadie also unexpectedly builds herself a found family full of big personalities and all the love and support that she never got from her parents—a reminder to readers that family is not just blood. Each character brings something different to the table and they are all dynamic enough that I wouldn’t mind reading a book that centers each of them. (Hi, Melissa, if you want to make this happen, I'll be first in line to read, thanks.)

This story plays with the sayings “be careful what you wish for” and “the grass is always greener on the other side” so well. Sadie has been given a chance we normally don’t get and she is able to fix all the “mistakes” that she made during her Very Bad Year—but she’s also able to see situations from a different angle that she wasn’t able to the first time around. It’s a bit heartbreaking at times to watch her shrink and change the powerhouse of a person she is to fit what others what her to be, but it makes it that much more satisfying when she comes back into herself at the end. Wiesner masterfully tugs at all the emotions throughout the story and I really can’t say anything but “thank you, can I have some more please?”

My only gripe about this book is that there were no recipes for any of the deliciousness that Sadie makes throughout the story! I read an advanced copy so it may be different in the finished version (and I am crossing all the things that it is!)

And, of course, content warnings for those who need it: this story includes scenes of sexual harassment (specifically in the workplace), misogyny and sexism, bullying, strained parental relationship, and abuse of power/power imbalance in the workplace.

THE SECOND CHANCE YEAR by Melissa Wiesner is available now and you absolutely need to run, not walk, to pick up a copy for yourself here.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."