Published by HarperTeen on 6/16/15
Genres: Love & Romance, Young Adult
My content rating: YA (Characters have sex, but it's not shown)
A fun, romantic read, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti!
Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life.
But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.
And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.
Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.
In alternating then and now chapters, debut author Lauren Gibaldi crafts a charming, romantic story of first loves, lifelong friendships, uncovered secrets, and, ultimately, finding out how to be brave.
The Night We Said Yes is a sweet, fun romance with a unique spin – it’s told over the span of just two nights. The book switches back and forth between the night that Ella and Matt met and a night, a year later, when he returns after disappearing for six months. You learn about their relationship in between through Ella’s thoughts and memories on the latter night.
What I loved:
- The alternating story. I really enjoyed learning about Ella and Matt’s beginnings as it was interspersed with their current story. I thought that Gibaldi did a great job of weaving the two stories together. Most of the connection between Emmy and Oliver was built in the past, on the first day they met, but it never felt like insta-love because you knew you weren’t seeing their full relationship in that one night. You got to see how Ella and Matt got together, but you understood that the real bonds between them formed over the next six months that they dated. Seeing Ella and Matt in the present – the awkwardness mixed with hope and a bit of sadness and anger – was an interesting contrast to seeing them on that first night together when everything was so sweet and new.
- Meg and Jake. Ella’s friendship with Meg played a major role in the story – as well as the on-again-off-again romance between Meg and Jake. There was a big focus on supporting your friends, even when you don’t agree with all of their decisions, and I loved the way that played out. Meg and Jake were an interesting couple because they were very dysfunctional in a lot of ways, so it was hard to know whether or not to root for them (which was kind of Ella’s problem as well). Still, you could see that they were both trying to work through things together (and, in the case of Jake, trying to work through his own personal demons), so there was definitely a part of you that wanted them to make it!
- The night they said yes. The things that the group did on the first “night we said yes” weren’t super crazy or dangerous things, but they were the types of things that would have felt very risky to relatively non-rebellious teens. For me, this was perfect because I could relate to them (my friends and I were pretty straight-laced in high school) – it was kind of refreshing to see teens act like teens in their rebellion instead of like juvenile delinquents! The story wasn’t so much about how crazy they were, but about how these characters felt when they stretched their wings a little bit and how their relationships were affected.
- Matt’s reasoning for disappearing. So, the only thing that didn’t really work for me was Matt’s excuses for why he completely disappeared from his friends’ lives. Once the story was revealed, it was just a little underwhelming, and I couldn’t really understand or believe why he’d made the decisions he did (he blamed some of it on the fact that his parents didn’t allow him to tell people what was going on, which didn’t ring true to me for a teenage boy – most kids would totally disregard their parents’ wishes on something like this – it’s not like he didn’t have access to phones). Still, I do give him a little leeway on being uncommunicative because … well, because he was a teenage boy. They’re not known for their stellar communication skills. (And I just read that Matt’s story is coming out as a novella on August 8th, so maybe that will clear up some of his motivations.)
So, overall, I really enjoyed this story. I connected to Ella and especially loved her friendship with Meg. If you’re looking for a sweet YA romantic read, this one should hit the spot! I give it 4/5 stars.
***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About Lauren Gibaldi:
I’m an author of young adult novels and public librarian. I’ve been, among other things, a magazine editor, high school English teacher, bookseller, and circus aerialist (seriously). I have a BA in Literature and Master’s in Library and Information Studies, both from Florida State University. I currently live in Orlando, Florida with my husband, daughter, and ever-expanding collection of books. (I mean, it comes with the professions, right?)
I love dinosaurs, pasta, musicals, and cheesy jokes.