Title: Save the Date
Author: Morgan Matson (Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, Second Chance Summer, Since You’ve Been Gone, and The Unexpected Everything)
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.
I think this book will probably go at the #2 spot on my personal Morgan Matson list – it didn’t live up to my love of her third book, Since You’ve Been Gone, but I still really enjoyed it. I saw some grumblings from other reviews about the fact that SO MUCH goes wrong in the lead-up to the main event, protagonist Charlie’s sister’s wedding, and that’s totally true, but I knew that going in and I was just entertained.
This book had less focus on romance than past Matson books, and I think I liked that. The main focus was family, which is something I really love and care about – in fact, the only complaint I would have about that is that one of the themes is that you need to have a life outside of your family. Yes, I get that, but I don’t like how sometimes things like romantic relationships are held up as so superior to familial (and platonic, of course). Just a pet peeve, but something that I didn’t care for. Family is important and wanting to focus on your family isn’t wrong.
Another minor problem I had (remember, this is four stars, so obviously I didn’t hate this book at all) was what seems to be a recurring Matson tropes: withholding a secret. We learn early on that one of Charlie’s brother has pulled away from the family for about a year and a half, but we don’t know why. For at least 150 pages, it’s referred to repeatedly, as well as general drama between that brother and their parents, but we aren’t allowed to know what it is because the drama needs to be ramped up. The problem with something like this is that the secret almost never lives up to the build-up. This was one of the few cases where it kind of lived up to the build-up, but it was still annoying and I hope Matson finally retires this trope with this book.
I had a lot in common with Charlie, for better or for worse: a love of family and a hatred of change. As a result, it’s a bit hard to connect with some of the arcs, like learning to deal with change and the idea that you absolutely should be excited for college (not necessarily what the author intended, but what I got out of it). That’s the problem when you really connect with a protagonist, including with areas where they need to grow and change.
My use of “for better or for worse” is also apt because: the mom wrote a FBOFW-esque comic strip based on her family! It’s about a big family, plenty of familial drama, and it progresses in real time. It’s also coming to an end, which adds some more drama.
There are definitely some predictable parts (come on, Charlie, how did you not see one twist coming involving your family?) and almost everything that could go wrong does (I expected something horrible to happen to the wedding dress, but it was one of the few things that survived unscathed), but this was a fun book. I don’t remember finding any other Matson books so hugely funny – Charlie’s brother, J.J., is totally my favorite and has some of the funnier lines and personality traits. This wasn’t a perfect book or my favorite Matson book, but it was a great book regardless and will look great in my growing Matson collection.