Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

Title: The Night We Said Yes
Author: Lauren Gibaldi
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: June 16th, 2015
Source: ARC Received from Publisher in Exchange for an Honest Review

My Rating: 4/5

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. (Summary from Goodreads)

I knew as soon as I read the synopsis for this book that it was one I was going to really like. It's all about friendship and second chances and hometowns and summer, which are some of my favourite things to read about. The Night We Said Yes was a touching novel that had me recalling some of those incredible summer days.

I got committed to this book very quickly. I sat out in the sunshine (got a sunburn) and read all afternoon. The story captivated me, and the characters were stellar. Ella was a wonderful protagonist that I could totally relate to, and her best friend Meg was caring and lovable. Jake frustrated me sometimes, but he had a good heart. Matt was the kind of guy I would've crushed on in high school, and he sure won my heart in this book. I shipped Ella and Matt pretty dang quickly, even though I wasn't sure what happened between them. They just had such chemistry, it was great to read about.   

The time-hopping set up of this novel worked really well. I feel like each chapter complimented the next and kept the story moving forward. In many books with this format, I find myself committed to one timeline over the other, but that was not the case with The Night We Said Yes. I loved getting both stories and seeing what things had changed and all the things that had stayed the same. There was only one moment in the book (which I talk about later) that was off for me, but the rest worked seamlessly. 

Reading this book was really nostalgic for me. It felt like going back to the end of high school and how hopeful and scary and joyous it was. This book captured that feeling so well. On a personal level, this book reminded me so much of my friends and some of the ridiculous things we did: going to see our friends play a gig, yelling in cars about boys, going on adventures through the town we knew so well, and feeling like we were on the cusp of something new and exciting. Although I've moved on from that (and sadly, from many of those friends) reading The Night We Said Yes reminded me of all those happy times and how incredible it can feel. I got a little teary at the end because it was a bit like moving on all over again.

Matt's explanation about why he left didn't sit well with me, for some reason. Maybe it was because it was unexpected, but something about it just kind of didn't work for me. It took me out of the story for a few pages, but I quickly found myself drawn back in. Because this story, for me at least, wasn't about why Matt left but about these friends and their story and how scary and amazing it can be to take a chance.  

After I finished The Night We Said Yes, I immediately went out and pre-ordered Matt's Story, the upcoming companion e-novella. I just wasn't ready to let go of these characters. I'm still not. I'm writing this review (well, the end of it) weeks after I finished the book and I'm STILL feel nostalgic about the whole thing. I can't wait to go back and read this one all over again.

Overall, The Night We Said Yes was a heart-warming, nostalgic, and just plain great debut. I am so excited to see what other awesome books Lauren Gibaldi has in store for us.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Find This Book: Amazon | Chapters/Indigo | Goodreads | Lauren Gibaldi's Website 

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