I could not have been more thrilled to have been selected to participate in the Save the Date Tour, especially as this date holds special meaning to me- today is exactly one year from my wedding date! Thank you so much to Fantastic Flying Book Club for this opportunity!
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Save the Date by Morgan Matson
Also by this author: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, Second Chance Summer, The Unexpected Everything
on June 5, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Family, Young Adult
Pages: 432 •Format: E-ARC •Source: Publisher
Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.
The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.
There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.
There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.
Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.
Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.
The story’s protagonist is Charlie, a high school senior who’s thrilled to have all of her older siblings under one roof for a rare weekend as her sister is getting married at their family home. As the cover implies, what follows are a comedy of errors when basically everything that you think could go wrong at a wedding does (to the point where Matson was writing such chaotic scenes that I was getting stressed just reading them!) In addition to the seven family members, there is the groom’s family, the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, and a disgruntled beagle all staying under one room in the Grant’s charmingly eccentric house. Matson’s ability as a writer to make each character, especially all of the siblings, have their own distinct personalities amidst the chaos of the plot, was truly impressive, as is her ability to write fleshed out characters in memorable stories that readers will care about in a stand alone novel format.
Yet what really made this story of family stand out was the extremely creative element of Grant Central station, the comic strip that Charlie’s mother writes that heavily borrows on her family’s real life happenings. The strip has grown up alongside the characters, and it’s made them semi-celebrities, with the wedding also culminating in the comic’s last strip. Panels from the strip are incorporated here and there throughout the novel (and were super fun to read!) and Matson cleverly weaves together the drama and memories of the actual Grants into those that belong to the fictional, comic Grants, until it’s hard for Charlie to discern between the two. The novel touched on a lot of deeper, more profound issues about privacy, the elevated view we can have of our older siblings, how much we let ourselves be defined by those we’re related to, etc. The story had touches of depth among a LOT of humor and witty dialogue, and I caught myself laughing out loud more than once (especially when JJ was involved- seriously, can I please have a spinoff novel about his crazy antics? Or about any/all of the Grant siblings? OR a book full of Grant Central station comic strips?) However, given that there were SO many characters in this book, I do wish we had received more closure regarding some of them (especially Brooke).
There were also a lot of fun cameos by characters from The Unexpected Everything, including Andie, Clark, and Andie’s dad. It all felt very natural and Save the Date is clearly set a few years in the future, but it was really fun seeing some of Matson’s previous characters make appearances, especially in ways that were sort of related to the plot and not just casual run ins. It made me feel like Matson’s creating a contemporary universe without trying too hard and the two books just seem to flow together really well…fingers crossed that we’ll get cameos from some of the Grants in her next book!
A few bonus favorite things I have to mention:
- The alarm was one of the funniest running bits I’ve read in a contemporary in a long time
- Billiam is apparently a real name
- CAPTURE THE FLAG aka the BEST MIDDLE SCHOOL ERA OUTDOORS GAME EVER
- Walla-BYE (and giant blown up pictures of the Hemsworth brothers)
- Never trust anyone named after a fruit
- Hilarious alternative chapter titles
- Feuds with neighbors over gardening competitions
Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I realize how much I adored this book and getting to know the Grant family. My ONLY complaints are that I could have done completely without the romance element- like 110% could have done without it, since it was such a minor part of the story. Also, Charlie could be very stubborn and border on annoying, but I’m glad her BFF called her out on her behavior.
Overall: Save the Date is one of the best family-centered YA novels I’ve ever read. It’s hilarious with characters so realistic that you’ll feel like you just spent a weekend in the Grant household by the time you finish reading.
Morgan Matson was born in New York City and grew up there and in Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, but halfway through a theater degree, she started working in the children’s department of Vroman’s Bookstore and fell in love with YA literature.
Following college graduation (and the proud bearer of an incredibly useful theater/English degree) she received her M.F.A. in Writing for Children from The New school and worked as an editor for YA novels. She received a second M.F.A. (for reasons that made sense at the time) in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California.
Her novels have been translated into dozens of languages, and published all over the world.
Morgan’s first novel, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, was inspired by her love of road trips, snacks, and the quest for the perfect playlist. It was named an ALA Top Ten Best Book, a Publisher’s Weekly Flying Start book, and was shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Book Prize.
Her second novel, Second Chance Summer, was inspired by her experiences spending summers in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. It was the winner of the California Book Award (YA category) and was named to the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults List, selected for the Oklahoma Sequoya List, and selected as a School Library Journal Best Book.
Her third novel, Since You’ve Been Gone, was published in 2014, and was a Publisher’s Weekly and international bestseller. It was named to the YALSA Teens Top Ten list, and the Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award List.
Morgan’s fourth novel, The Unexpected Everything, was published May 3rd, 2016.
She currently lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Murphy.