Second Chance on Cypress Lane by Reese Ryan is a passionate love story about high school sweethearts finally reuniting in their small town of Holly Grove Island in South Carolina, both still harboring feelings and resentment from seventeen years ago.
This was the first book I’ve read of Reese Ryan’s but it won’t be the best. I was drawn to this book initially for a couple reasons. The first being she’s a black author. I love reading novels, short stories and other literary works by black people. Primarily, because I can connect or empathize with the story or characters on a deeper and more intimate level. Stories written by black writers tend to highlight stereotypes, themes or experiences that I or many people who like me can relate to.
Dakota, the main character in Second Chance on Cypress Lane, experienced the pressures of conforming to “European-centered concepts of beauty.” As a natural black woman seeking a career as a news anchor, it wasn’t until she “straightened” her hair upon the urgurence of her mother Madeline Jones, that she received her first on-air gig.
Why? Natural hair, particularly natural curls, afros, dreadlocks and other Afrocentric hairstyles aren’t deemed “professional.” It’s very common for black people, particularly black woman to experience discrimination or forms of bigoted or ignorant comments regarding their hair. One of the many underlying themes in the story is Dakota eventually embracing her natural curls, letting them “hang.”
“What her mother was asking has gone against everything she’d believed. That people should be accepted for who they are. That it was categorically wrong to discriminate against someone because of their race, religion, disability, how their hair grew from their heads, or the hairstyle they chose to wear. But she’d given in that day, walked into that salon, and let the woman straighten her hair – though she’d refused to have it altered chemically.” Second Chance on Cypress Lane p. 192
“Sadly, it seemed her mother was right. Within six months of changing her hair, she’d been given her first shot at doing a story on camera.” Second Chance on Cypress Lane p.192
Falling into the next reason this book sparked my interest from beginning to end. Dakota Jones studied journalism at NYU, before she began her pursuit of becoming an on air evening news anchor in New York City.
Reading Second Chance on Cypress Lane took me down memory lane, starting at the beginning of my journey to becoming a journalist. I felt like I was reading a book about my life or what my life could’ve been.
My College Journey
Early on in my college search, NYU was at the top of my list. I was dead set on living in New York City, attending one of the top journalism schools until I did more research. The cost of tuition and slim likelihood that I would be accepted, not to mention NYU’s lackluster sports program led me to the illustrious North Carolina A&T. As an aspiring sports journalist and anchor, at that time, attending a university with a strong athletics and journalism program was the ultimate priority. 4 years later, as Dakota relived her college life at NYU, I wonder how my life would have been had I stuck with my top choice.
The most important thing for me in any piece of literature is imaginary, descriptiveness. I rely on the author to illustrate through vivid descriptions the most important characters, settings and scenes of the story.
Setting of the Book
With the setting of Second Chance on Cypress Lane on Holly Grove Island, being on a small beach town in South Carolina, Reese Ryan did a phenomenal job of describing every detail. I felt like I was on the beach myself, while reading Dakota and Dexter’s journey.
A love scandal in New York City leads to Dakota Jones being plastered across Page Six and jobless, forcing her to return to her small hometown Holly Grove Island. Upon her return there are two things she’s set on avoiding, anyone in the town finding out what happened with her old job in New York, especially her dad and running into Dexter Roberts, her ex.
Shortly upon returning to Holly Grove Island, Dakota realizes that she missed her father Oliver, her best friend Sinclair, the small town she grew up in and someone she never expected, Dexter Roberts, more than she realized she would.
After learning the gravity of her father’s health from Dexter, the once high school sweethearts are finally cordial after a bitter and bumpy return. Dakota eventually decides to stay in town longer to take care of her father, while searching for job opportunities beyond the island. Her plan was to visit Holly Grove Island temporarily while she waited out the scandal in NYC and looked after her father, but plans change…
I’ve spoiled the book enough. It’s definitely worth the read. So good that it may be a book club pick.
Check it out! Let me know what you think if you read it.