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.
This debut novel by Lauren Gibaldi is a short and fun contemporary read. I thought it was a good debut novel that reminded me of writing by Sarah Dessen and Jennifer E. Smith. However, I thought The Night We Said Yes lacked the depth and emotional quality that Dessen and Smith incorporate into their novels. It wasn’t as sophisticated but if you’re looking for a fun and fast-paced read, I would definitely recommend this.
This book contains alternating chapters of ‘then’ and ‘now’, which I’m not always a fan of. Lauren Gibaldi did a great job at integrating the dual timelines so that it read as one story rather than two separate story lines. My problem with the alternating timelines was that some aspects of the story felt very repetitive, especially because Matt and Ella are trying to recreate a night that happened a year ago. Things that happened in the past would be alluded to or described in a ‘now’ chapter, and then described again in the following ‘then’ chapter. Because of this, I would have preferred just one single timeline, which would also allow for deeper exploration into the story and the characters.
I didn’t feel a deep connection to any of the characters. I liked Matt but wasn’t in love with him like I normally am with YA male love interests. I felt like we never got a good sense of who the characters were. I liked Ella but I didn’t always love her voice. I also felt like there could have been more character development. I felt as though all of her character development came in random bursts of sudden self-realizations. I would have definitely liked the novel more if we got to see her character gradually developing. The alternating timelines also made it difficult to see her character develop.
Overall, I enjoyed the reading experience. I finished it in one sitting and I appreciated how relatable the book was.