Goodreads: Save the Date
Published: June 5, 2018
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, distractedly 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 picked up Save the Date because I saw it nominated for a bunch of end of the year book awards, and the idea of a wedding planning gone crazy sounded fun and cute. The book was light and fully entertaining as catastrophe after catastrophe comes close to ruining Charlie’s older sister’s wedding, but the book also touches on themes of family, friendship, and finding your way.
A wedding-themed book seems primed to be a romance, but Save the Date is actually mainly focused on Charlie’s relationship with her family. She’s the youngest of five siblings, and she’s the only one currently living at home (she’s just about to graduate from high school), so she’s excited to have everyone come together again for her sister’s Big Day, for everything to be just like it used to be. I loved seeing the siblings interact with each other, and I think the family dynamics were just right. Matson nails the fights that come with love and the idea that some siblings will be closer to each other than others, even though they’re all family.
The wedding-gone-wrong plot is fantastic, and it means there’s never a dull moment. It also means things can be slightly predictable, as the reader can basically predict that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, but watching how it all plays out is the fun part. (Especially because, you know, it’s not my wedding or a wedding I’m in any way responsible for that’s going all wrong.)
However, I also really enjoyed the subplot that Charlie’s mother writes a comic “loosely” based on their family, which has run for 25 years and is now coming to an end. This raises a lot of interesting questions about how much art can mimic life, whether the mother is trying to “turn her children into the people she wishes they were” in the comic, etc. I actually found I really sympathized with the brother who hates the comic and sees it as a total invasion of his privacy. Charlie gets a pass for not seeing this mainly because she notes that the comic has been ongoing for basically her entire life, and she doesn’t have any conception of what life would be without it. (She loves it, though.)
All this means there’s also a bit of glamour to the story, which is fun, too. The mother is a famous comic strip creator. The father is a respected professor. Basically all the older kids have prestigious jobs. One’s a venture capitalist, for instance. These people are definitively rich. It’s a world I’m not really familiar with, but it’s one of those things that’s fun to read about.
I really enjoyed this book, both the silly, over-the-top drama and the more serious questions it asks, and I am definitely interested in reading more from Matson.