Review: Save the Date by Morgan Matson
It’s during this time of year when I typically will start to gravitate towards fun, summery contemporaries and Morgan Matson is one of my favourite YA contemporary authors. So you probably could have guessed that Save the Date was one of my most anticipated books of 2018. It definitely lived up to the expectations that I had and I ended up giving it a 5 out of 5 on Goodreads.
Save the Date follows seventeen-year-old Charlie Grant who is experiencing a lot of upcoming change in her life. Her parents have sold their house, she will be going to college in September and her sister is getting married this weekend. Because this is one of the last times that the Grants will all be under one roof in this house, Charlie wants to make her sister's wedding weekend absolutely perfect. But of course, things don't go as planned and Charlie learns things about her family that she hadn't known before and learns that holding on to the past can make you miss out on the future.
This book was so cute and so fun! I've always loved wedding romcoms and this book definitely has an almost romcom movie feel to it. It feels very cinematic, but still has a great balance of movie-like scenes and Charlie's inner dialogue. Morgan Matson does also write scripts and you kind of get the feeling like she is using some of her screenwriting skills to make sure that each character's arc is fulfilled, even though the timeline of the book happens over a weekend.
Morgan Matson spoke recently on Sarah Enni's First Draft podcast about how one of the challenges when writing this book was that everything had to happen in such a short period of time. Morgan's 4 previous books had all taken place over an entire summer, so there is more time to give characters large arcs. It's difficult to create this same kind of character growth, but over 3 days rather than 3 months, especially with the number of characters in this book. I think she did this very well and made for a fast-paced, fun read.
I also loved the relationships that Charlie has with her siblings and how family was a larger theme, rather than focusing on Charlie's potential romances. Charlie is the youngest of 5 siblings and she has a very different relationship with each of her siblings. You have her favourite sibling and oldest brother, Danny, her older sister and friend, Linnie, her second-oldest and jokester brother, JJ, and her estranged youngest older brother, Mike. It was very interesting to see these relationships play out in the book and see how they change as Charlie learns more about them, as she is the only one that still lives at home and she usually doesn't get to spend a lot of time with her siblings like she did when she was much younger. We're starting to see family be focused more on in YA comtemporaries over romance and I absolutely loved the family in Save the Date and how they've all reconnected in a way over Linnie's wedding weekend. Speaking of Linnie, I loved her and Rodney's relationship. No spoilers but I loved seeing the two of them stick together when their entire wedding is almost falling apart around them. It's hard for me to pick one favourite character — I might have to go with the adorable wedding planner's assistant, Bill — but Linnie and Rodney's relationship is one of my favourite parts of this book that isn't necessarily the main focus (other than it being their wedding).
That's all for my non-spoiler-y thoughts, so if you have not read Save the Date I'll see you next time. If you have read the book, let's talk about it!
Bye people who haven't read the book!
Hi there, people who've read the book!
Let's talk about that opening! This sure was a steamy scene and it was a good introduction to one of the people that Charlie looks at with rose-coloured glasses, Jesse Foster. I don't know about you, but during this scene I found myself saying, "No Charlie, don't hype this up so much". Then as the story went on I started to think that maybe he could be her love interest. However, by the around the half way point I knew that he wouldn’t be and that he wasn't looking for anything serious. While I didn't really like that he was just looking for sex from his best friend's sister, I think Jesse as a character was a good marker for how Charlie started slowly looking at the people around her with more of a realistic lense. At first, she's absolutely obsessed with him in a high school crush type of way, but as the story goes along she's thinking of him less and less. And when she finds out her parents are getting divorced, she goes to Jesse to try and get that original feeling back, but now she can't unsee the flaws in the people who she had previously put on these pedestals, which really shows her growth as a character.
The dynamic between Mike and the mother in the story is also very interesting because Mike is the only sibling that isn't super jazzed about being a part of the family, particularly because of their mother's comic based on their family, Grant Central Station. This comic is essentially a highlight reel of their lives with all the bad things taken out or reimagined to be perfect. In terms of the reason why Mike hasn't been home for 18 months, I'm firmly on Mike's side. He had asked his mother not to put something in her comic strip and she goes and does it anyway. This is a betrayal that would be hard for a child to forget, especially since this comic was so popular and ultimately caused his girlfriend to break up with him. That being said, it was a bit cruel that he went to the press and threw everyone in his family under the bus and cut them all out for 18 months. It irked me a little bit that their mum doesn’t quite see how wrong what she did was. Because, even though she knows how successful her comic is, I don't think she fully understands how public a platform it was and that people knew these characters were based on her kids.
I was completely shocked that Charlie's parents were getting a divorce! I never gave much thought to why they were selling the house and the little subtle hints throughout that suggested a possible divorce, such as the arguments and the daybed in their bedroom being made up. I thought that they were just looking to downsize because Charlie is going off to college. The divorce is the final straw that throws Charlie completely off balance and makes her start to doubt that they will be able to still remain a family. However, as Charlie realizes towards the end, it had never really been the parents that had held them together. It was the relationships between her and her siblings that had been what had kept them all together. Now that the family ideal has been completely thrown off, Charlie starts to recognize the flaws in the siblings she has idolized and begins to see herself as an equal amongst her older siblings.
Now, I need to talk about Bill! While I loved that there wasn't really a central romance in this book, I also loved Bill and Charlie's relationship. They're not in a "relationship" (yet), but over the course of the wedding weekend and trying to save everything from being completely ruined, they develop this friendship with romantic tension that is absolutely adorable. Bill as a character as well is absolutely adorable. He's so hardworking and sweet. I enjoyed all of his scenes and how he fits in with the Grant family; I hope that in the post-book future him and Charlie get together because I think he's like another Rodney type character with how well he meshes with Grant siblings.
That's all for my thoughts on Save the Date! What did you enjoy most about this book? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time, have a lovely rest of your day and read something awesome!