Save the Date
by Morgan Matson
“‘Nothing else,” I promised, “is going to go wrong.” Just as I said this, there was a faint pop and then the room was thrown into darkness.”
Charlie is very excited that finally all her family members will be together again as they congregate for her older sister, Linnie’s, wedding. Her family, famous from her mother’s successful 25 year running comic strip, is set to celebrate the wedding on Saturday and interview with Good Morning America on Sunday. The picture perfect family that is portrayed in the comic, and the one cemented into Charlie’s head is put through the ringer when several horrific wedding disasters happen, forcing Charlie, along with the wedding planning assistant Bill, to fix everything at the last minute. Trying to fix everything into being perfect causes Charlie to face how imperfect her family may be after all.
Morgan Matson’s contemporaries are always filled with feel-good themes and young romances, perfect for a summer beach read. Save the Date was no different in that it had the same feeling of summer antics, yet for me, fell flat in many of the ways her other books did not. Due to the setting and circumstances of the book (a wedding), there was a parade of characters all thrown in at once, adding anxiety to the reading experience as I tried to catch up with the unique personalities of each character. Something I think she did quite well with this, however, was the dynamic feeling of many of the characters. They did not feel like plot devices for the main character but characters that all had their own set of talents and struggles. The immense amount of personalities that were introduced felt like much of the first half of the book and suffered on the plot.
The main character, Charlie, did not feel like a strong character but more of a reflection of the people and events happening around her. I thought that she had some important qualities that I enjoyed Matson commenting on at the end, learning some lessons that many young individuals go through, like dealing with change and becoming and independent person from your family. Charlie seemed very ‘young’ to me, despite the fact that she was 18 based on her outbursts and reactions. I would have enjoyed seeing more of her after she had learned some of these important lessons.
Overall, I thought that Matson wrote a fun and quick contemporary that touched on some important themes but I found that the execution of the novel was done poorly. It seemed like a panic, which possibly reflected the feelings of the characters but felt rushed as a reader. Despite the problems I had with the pacing and the characters, I thought the plot was well done, if a little short and overshadowed by the character introductions. I enjoyed the wedding setting and, as usual, I enjoyed the tone of Matson’s writing.