Second Nature

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Published by: Random House
Release Date: September 6, 2011
Pages: 383
ISBN13: 978-1400067756


Sicily Coyne got a second chance, a dozen years after a school fire disfigured her face and cost her firefighter dad his life. After a full-face transplant, Sicily, now 25, rushes hungrily toward life and love, and encounters a life-and-death complication no one could have predicted. Booklist’s starred review said that Jacquelyn Mitchard’s new novel, Second Nature: A Love Story, should come with a warning: “Make no immediate plans. This book will take over your life.” And Publishers Weekly called this “a riveting tale.” Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, said, “Jacquelyn Mitchard is back!”


“Jacquelyn Mitchard is back with a fascinating story that only she can tell. The characters are the sort that stay with you long after the last page is turned.”
Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help

Second Nature is a love story like no other. Sicily Coyne survives an unimaginable tragedy, skillfully imagined by Jacquelyn Mitchard, and must then face seemingly insurmountable obstacles and struggle against impossible odds in her quest to find what we all want—true connection, fulfillment, and lasting love.”
Lisa Genova, author of Still Alice

“Mitchard writes with passion and artistry, weaving a vivd story that both moves and astonishes. From the very first paragraph, you know you are in the hands of a gifted writer.
Tess Gerritsen, author of Ice Cold

“Mitchard is one of my favorite writers for a reason. This is her best book yet.”
Karin Slaughter, author of Fallen


This is what I know.

My father stood in the center aisle of the Lady Chapel—that hunched, hexed little building he hated as a father and as a firefighter—under the lowering band of sooty, mean-colored smoke, and he looked right at me. He understood what had happened to me, and although he couldn’t tell me then, he was still happy. He thought I was one of the lucky ones.

I was.

This is what I remember.

There were fifty of us in the Lady Chapel that late afternoon, December 20, the shortest day of the year. Inside, in winter, it was always about as warm and bright as an igloo. Wearing our coats and mittens as we sang “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” we could see our breath. As a place of worship and a historic structure, the Lady Chapel was exempt from all the building codes and conformed to none of them, which was why Dad despised the very sight of it. The mahogany pews, each with a different intricate carving, massaged for seventy years with
layers of flammable polish, were nothing but tinder to him. Raw and reckless new structures, when they burned, were flimsy as tents. But the old chapel had stone walls a foot thick and had been reroofed so many times that Dad said that it could have withstood a phosphorus bomb.

It didn’t take anything as potent as a bomb, only a small candle in a small draft.

Read the full excerpt