Save the Date, by Morgan Matson
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Series?: No, regrettably
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Length: 432 pages
Times Read: Once
Rating: I am so, so sad this is over
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.
What I Liked: I COULD NOT WAIT for this book, and I read all 432 pages in 24 hours. And it only took that long because my pesky job got in the way. It was so, so good. But now I am so, so sad because I just want to hang out with the Grants forever. Whoever compared it to Father of the Bride was spot on, and that was a good thing in my book.
I honestly adore this movie
♥ The Grants. There are so many good things to say about the Grants that I don’t even know where to start. I even really like all of their names and nicknames that came from them. I love reading about big families, and I knew it would be done well in Morgan Matson’s hands. It took me a few chapters to keep everyone straight, although there’s also a guide in the beginning with lists of all the names and where they belong in the story. But once I had them down, I had no problem telling who was speaking when. Charlie has three older brothers and they never blended together. Everyone in this family has a distinct personality, and I loved them all.
♥ The kissing. The first chapter has a really excellent kissing scene in it, and you know how I feel about those. If you set up your story with a good kiss, I’m going to be hooked. And I WAS! The “brother’s best friend” trope will never get old for me, and I could so sympathize with Charlie for her crush on someone that was just never going to happen. Is this because I had my own personal crush on a Jesse in high school? (Hi, Jesse!) Perhaps. Is it because it’s a universe feeling that almost everyone has known at some point? For sure.
♥ Billiam. His name is actually Bill, but if you read the book, that will be funny to you. Bill is the nephew of the Linnie’s wedding planner, and he’s working with him that weekend. In my notes, I wrote “Jesse is sexy, Bill is classy.” And that about sums up the big difference between them. Bill is a welcome calm in the craziest weekend ever, doing whatever needs to be done and handling problems before Linnie knows they exist. He and Charlie work well together to try to make her day as perfect as they can. It doesn’t always work, but they try.
♥ The setting (both place and time). I’ve always enjoyed books that take place within 24 hours, but books that take place over a 3 day weekend are my new favorite. We got so much more time to know everyone, and so much more time for people to grow. Every day of this weekend is important, and none of them are rushed or glossed over. We’re back in Stanwich again, which was to be expected, but the surprise were the cameos from Morgan’s previous novels. Morgan Matson and Sarah Dessen are the queens of having their books take place in the same town and letting characters occasionally flit back and forth, while always keeping each book very distinct. But the real MVP in the setting was the house. Because the wedding took place in the backyard, we were there for the whole weekend. Added to this is the fact that their parents are selling the house now that all the kids have grown up, so Charlie is really craving this weekend of having all her siblings back together in their place. The spot where they all grew up, where all their memories still live. The house really came alive for me, despite it’s issues with the alarm system.
♥ The disasters. So. Many. Disasters. Another thing on my list of Stuff I Don’t Like in Real Life but Love in Books is anything to do with weddings, including their planning and all the issues that arise. In yet another similarity to Father of the Bride, we see all the disasters happening behind the scenes, while everyone tries to make sure the bride doesn’t have to worry about things. Sure, having ALL of these disasters happen in one weekend at one wedding is far-fetched, but it didn’t lessen my enjoyment at all.
Might I suggest eloping in Hawaii? This worked well for me.
♥ The comics. Honestly, I didn’t find the comics that funny, but I appreciated their inclusion in the book. Charlie’s mom being the author of a comedy strip was so interesting. She created a fictionalized version of their family, so anything that happened in real life had a good chance of ending up in the strip. We were able to witness Charlie realizing that some of her memories weren’t actually hers at all, but had happened in the comic instead. It was like realizing that a memory you thought was yours really belonged to someone else, you’d just heard it a lot. Charlie had seen her family play out in the newspaper every week, and it didn’t always match up to real life.
♥ The crushing realization that everyone is just a person in the end. This happens with a lot of the people in the book, and it’s hard on Charlie. Figuring out that even if you idolize someone they’re still just a person who does things wrong and hurts others is rough. Charlie goes through this throughout the weekend, and I related so hard. Even seeing Charlie realize it about herself, that when her siblings come home she forgets about everyone else in her life.
♥ Waffles. Waffles the beagle is fantastic and if you don’t agree, I don’t want to hear it.
♥ The “I didn’t just get here”s. This is a running line throughout the book, and I liked that everyone in the family used it. “I know what you drink, I didn’t just get here.” “Of course I got you a donut, I didn’t just get here.” “I can tell my children’s voices apart, I didn’t just get here.” It’s an example of one of the things I loved most about this book–the family dynamics. It is so crazy interesting to watch another family operate, to see the little things they do that make sense only to them. It’s almost like an inside joke. The Grants have those too, but not everything is funny. Some of it is just them. It’s the way they bicker and argue, the way they laugh and call not it and play midnight CTF. It’s a family I wanted to be part of forever. I could read a separate book about each sibling, plus Rodney and Siobhan.
♥ It’s really funny! I honestly laughed the whole way through this.
What I Didn’t: There’s really nothing I didn’t like here. It’s long, but I wish it was longer. There are a lot of characters, but I know them all. I don’t come from this same kind of family, but I wish I did. But in the interest of being fair, here are the few things I can think of.
⊗ The papergirl and nosy neighbor. It’s not that I didn’t like them, I just didn’t think their story lines were necessary. But they added so much extra craziness to the weekend that I can’t wish them away entirely, either.
⊗ The not being kind to Danny’s girlfriend. No one knew Danny was bringing Brooke home with him, and the family has a hard time adjusting to it. Charlie in particular was really cold to her, because Danny is her favorite brother and she couldn’t wait to spend time with him. But in the end, we needed Brooke too. She was the catalyst to Charlie beginning to see Danny more as an equal and less as her idol. She was a reminder of how hard it is to be the one on the outside, and how a little kindness can go a long way. This part of the story reminded me of another excellent Diane Keaton movie, The Family Stone.
⊗ WTF, Mike. This isn’t a criticism as to why Mike was so mad and hadn’t been home in a year. Once I found out what had happened, I was fully on Mike’s side and a little surprised he wasn’t mad at everyone else, too. The issue was that it took so long to find out. Because we’re only seeing Charlie’s mom for so long, I couldn’t imagine her doing something that would have upset Mike so much, so Mike came off like a petulant child. BUT–even this was paramount to Charlie’s growth. She had to stop seeing her mom as someone who did no wrong, and start to see other people’s points of view as being valid. And so we saw Mike as sulky and childish because that’s how Charlie saw him. Once everything came out, I was able to start viewing it through Mike’s lense and seeing that he wasn’t necessarily the bad guy.
Favorite Quotes: “When you were asleep, you were who you were, not who you were pretending to be.”