Goodreads: Take Me Home Tonight
Published: May 4, 2021
Two girls. One night. Zero phones.
Kat and Stevie—best friends, theater kids, polar opposites—have snuck away from the suburbs to spend a night in New York City. They have it all planned out. They’ll see a play, eat at the city’s hottest restaurant, and have the best. Night. Ever. What could go wrong?
Well. Kind of a lot?
They’re barely off the train before they’re dealing with destroyed phones, family drama, and unexpected Pomeranians. Over the next few hours, they’ll have to grapple with old flames, terrible theater, and unhelpful cab drivers. But there are also cute boys to kiss, parties to crash, dry cleaning to deliver (don’t ask), and the world’s best museum to explore.
Over the course of a wild night in the city that never sleeps, both Kat and Stevie will get a wake-up call about their friendship, their choices…and finally discover what they really want for their future.
That is, assuming they can make it to Grand Central before the clock strikes midnight.
I’ve loved all of Morgan Matson’s novels since I read Save the Date and then went on to read most of her backlist, so of course I was thrilled to see she released a new book this year: this one set mostly in NYC, though the characters are still from Matson’s fictional town of Stanwich, CT. I was pleased to find another quick and fun read that features sharply drawn characters with both good features and flaws who need to navigate their relationships with each other and with themselves while, incidentally, having the time of their lives.
While most of Matson’s work blends realism with a bit of fantasy/daydream, in the sense that her characters tend to be privileged rich kids who have wild things happen to them that would be unlikely in real life, Take Me Home Tonight leans into that fantasy a bit more than her past books. The fact that the entire story takes place in only one night and there are three characters who have unexpected adventures means that A LOT happens, and of course most of it is quite absurd, ranging from runaway dogs to invitations to glamorous parties. Personally, I prefer Matson’s stories that are a bit more grounded, but going all in on the crazy adventures and ridiculous happenstances for just one novel was pretty fun. The characters certainly seem to accomplish more in one night in NYC than I ever have in one day!
Behind the adventures, there’s the framework that Kat and Stevie are best friends, and they are both in the Stanwich High theatre program, which apparently is incredibly intense and requires that you spend every day at practice and audition to be involved with every show; if you don’t, you’re cut. So the story delves into both characters’ relationship with acting and the intensive of the program, as well as into their friendship with each other and their relationships with their families. So even while the plot is going wild and bizarre thing after thing is happening to them, readers get to know Kat and Stevie, what their hopes and dreams are, what makes them tick, what makes them friends, what makes them annoyed with each other even though they are friends. And, of course, in many ways these are the truly magical parts of the book.
There’s also a completely separate narrative about what happens to their other friend Teri, who is back in CT. (Which explains the inside of the book jacket for the hardcover, which is basically designed like the jacket for a completely different novel and was very confusing to me before I figured out there was a narrative about Teri.) I have to admit I think this one jumps off the deep end a bit, though. It was entertaining, and while of course everything in the book is over-the-top this is just . . . more so. I don’t hate it, but I think the novel could have done without it.
In general, however, this is a great book. If you like Matson’s books, it’s a no brainer to pick this one up, as well. If you haven’t read any of her books yet but like contemporary novels with fast-paced plots, complex characters, great girl friendships, and family relationships, check this out.