Hi all, today is the release day for SAVE THE DATE by Morgan Matson! I’m so excited to be part of the Canadian blog tour for this wonderful book, which made me laugh, tear up, and feel all the feels.
As many of you know, I’m just a LITTLE of a Morgan Matson fan (see: entire feature week devoted to her work), so I’m delighted to say that Save the Date is another amazing – and hilarious read from one of my faves.
Read on for my review, and a huge Canadian giveaway!
Save the Date
Author: Morgan Matson
Find the author: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr
Also by this author: The Unexpected Everything, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, Second Chance Summer
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication date: June 5, 2018
Source: ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada (thank you!)
Father of the Bride meets Sixteen Candles in the latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Morgan Matson.
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.
Review: Save the Date by Morgan Matson
A true family book, Save the Date is both Morgan Matson’s funniest book, and one of her most poignant works.
Guys, I laughed out loud at every other page – and in between, I felt all the feels of a girl who is losing her family home and just wants to have one last weekend with her awesome siblings.
Nostalgic before it even starts, Save the Date is the story of three epic days in the lives of the Grant family. Charlie, the protagonist, is the youngest of five siblings, and is in her senior year of high school, trying to decide where to go to college. Before she does, though, she is devastated to learn that her parents are selling their house.
Linnie, Charlie’s sister, has always dreamed of getting married at the Grant house, so they’ve moved the wedding date up to accommodate the move. Meanwhile, Charlie’s mom, Eleanor, is an acclaimed cartoonist and is ending her long-running comic strip, Grant Central Station, the same weekend as the wedding. Charlie’s hope? That her family coming together to their house one last time will mean reliving their best moments together before it all disappears.
The great thing about the timeline to Save the Date is that those three days show us, in minute detail, the Grant family and what they’re like in moments of greatness and crisis. I fell in love with each and every member of the family, from keep-it-all-together Charlie, to badass eldest brother Danny, to the fun-loving bride and groom Linnie and Rodney, to hilarious brother J.J. Even estranged brother Mike and his complex relationship with the rest of the family had moments of hilarity and honesty that made me care.
And that’s what Morgan is counting on – because diegetic to the story is the fact that America has also fallen in love with the Grants and their antics through Eleanor’s comic strip. As readers, we get the privilege of experiencing that love both through our own discovery of the characters, through the comic strip (which exists in segments in the book), and through the eyes of other non-Grant family members in the book. It’s a fascinating experience, because we get a window into who the Grants really are, who they’ve become because of the comic, and how they are different from their fictional counterparts. There’s a real sense of “if it wasn’t written into the comic, did it really happen to us?” here.
That’s a lot of metareality, but it really works here because so much of Save the Date is about reality versus the ideal. Save the Date is about what happens when everyone is looking for that perfect moment – whether in storytelling, or in creating a wedding day, or in having one last family weekend that will recapture the magic – and how much we might miss if we hold so tightly to that vision of things.
Charlie’s vision of her perfect weekend with her family leads her to act in ways that…aren’t exactly the most palatable at the beginning of the book. In fact, I could see how some readers would find her unlikeable. But it’s Charlie’s discovery of her own romanticization that makes this book a real journey. And as much as it’s probably pretty obvious to most readers what Charlie’s issues are, you can’t help but root for her a little as she tries to pull it together for the people she loves.
That said, the sad thing about the timeline of three days is that it doesn’t lend itself to new relationships – particularly romantic ones. While Save the Date contains some of Matson’s signature romance – and some really, really adorable moments – it’s really a book about Charlie. The romance here is very light – and it’s much more about Charlie than it is about the boys involved (but darn, they are cute!)
What Charlie discovers, though, is that even when her visions come crashing down, reality isn’t all bad. In fact, it’s pretty funny. And that means that this book is easily the most hilarious summer book I’ve read in a long time. From the random inclusion of a beagle (it’s a Morgan Matson book, there had to be a dog!), to the feuding family members who make EVERY wedding a hassle to J.J.’s hilarious snarkiness (he says the word “scoff” instead of actually scoffing), to the comedy of errors that is the wedding itself (there’s a wedding suit switcharoo. And a Journey tribute band. Enough said), this book is a true comedy of errors.
Like the rest of Morgan’s books, what really pulls Save the Date together is heart and character. Yes, this book is hella funny. But it’s also just the perfect blend of nostalgia, comfort, heartbreak, and pluckiness that makes it refreshing and just JOYOUS to read. Morgan really GETS her characters, and their actions always feel right for the character and fully realized.
If I have one quibble about this book, it’s a minor one: the comedy of errors hits its reality quotient at a certain point. There was a moment where I was really asking myself whether I could believe that ALL of these crazy things were falling apart at one wedding – and it was a moment that took me out of the narrative.
But ultimately, Save the Date is classic Morgan Matson. There’s a dog. Delicious food. A family that you can love and respect. Friendships that are real. Laughter. The prettiest romantic moments. And a heroine who is on the cusp of something new who – if she lets go and takes a chance – will learn and grow so much.
Cameos: As many of you probably know, Morgan Matson’s characters and books all exist in the same world – all centered around the fictional town of Stanwich, Connecticut. Save the Date’s Grant family ends up meeting and mentioning quite a few characters from the past, and it’s such a delight to catch up with them, like a friendly wave from another lifetime. Also, if you’re a Taylor Swift fan (as Morgan is), you might notice a shout-out to her that made me laugh pretty hard.
Book Theme Song:
Today I met the boy I’m gonna marry
He’s all I wanted all my life and even more
He smiled at me and the music started playing
Here comes the bride when he walked through the door
Today I met the boy I’m gonna marry
The boy whose life and dream and love I wanna share
For on my hand a band of gold appeared before me
The band of gold I always dreamed I’d wear
When we kissed I felt a sweet sensation
This time it wasn’t just my imagination
I couldn’t resist choosing this song because it actually plays in the book, and it’s just the right amount of nostalgia for a weekend like this.
The Final Word:
Save the Date was an incredibly refreshing, laugh-out-loud read that is great for the summer, but might also be great for anyone on the cusp of a big decision in their lives. To me, no one else in the YA world is writing family dramas like Save the Date, and if they are, none of them are achieving the perfect balance of nostalgia, warmth and authenticity that Morgan is. The Grant family is that family you totally want to be part of. And even if they aren’t perfect, it was such a pleasure getting to inhabit their world for a few days.
If you’re a fan of family comedies or sitcoms like Full House (or even Fuller House!), Parenthood, or the family moments in Becky Albertalli’s books, this is definitely one you should pick up.
SAVE THE DATE by Morgan Matson is out in bookstores today! Are you picking up a copy asap? Do you like books set at weddings? How about slice-of-life family stories? Have you read Morgan’s other books? Let me know in the comments!
My wonderful friends at Simon & Schuster Canada are offering Canadian readers (or people with a Canadian mailing address) a huge giveaway. One lucky reader will get autographed copies of all of Morgan’s books, including Save the Date! Sign up below to win!