7 things to look forward to while reading Morgan Matson’s Save the Date


Morgan Matson’s Save the Date crams the entire Grant family into one house for a wedding, then reveals all sorts of problems they’d rather avoid.

Best known for her summer romance novels, Morgan Matson has made quite a name for herself over the past decade. From Since You’ve Been Gone to The Unexpected Everythingher young adult contemporary tales have captured the hearts of romantics and skeptics alike.

Save the DateMatson’s latest release, is no different in this regard. It does, however, take a step away from her usual romance centered stories. While there’s still plenty of crushing and kissing, the book’s primary focus is familial relationships. According to Matson:

"Save the Date really does stand out in some ways from my other books. Unlike the other books, it doesn’t take place in the summer or across a whole summer — it takes place over three days in the spring. And while there’s definitely some romance elements — including two very cute boys – the romance isn’t as central to the story as it has been in my four previous novels."

In Save the Date, readers follow Charlie Grant, the youngest of the five Grant siblings. With her parents selling her childhood home and college looming just ahead, Charlie is looking forward to spending the weekend of her sister’s wedding with her family. She’ll do whatever she can to ensure that everything goes perfectly.

But when the wedding planner skips town, she creates a domino effect resulting in a disastrous weekend that Charlie didn’t anticipate. Instead of strolling down memory lane with her siblings, Charlie spends most of the wedding cleaning up messes. She’s determined to make sure Linnie’s wedding is a smooth affair, even if it means constant stress for herself.

1. The family dynamics

Matson excels at portraying the dynamics of the Grant family throughout Save the Date. In any family, large or small, different types of relationships work in tandem to create a collective whole. This book captures the various personalities of the Grant family and demonstrates how they complement one another.

As with any family, no two relationships are alike. In that respect, the Grant siblings truly come to life. We see new sides of them, depending on who they’re interacting with, and it makes them feel more vivid as characters. The same can be said for their parents. Matson doesn’t give us caricatures; she gives us realistic and believable people.

2. Childhood nostalgia

Save the Date is full of reminiscing, most of it resulting from Charlie’s desire to return to “the way things used to be.” And as Charlie recalls her siblings’ childhood antics, you’ll likely begin to remember your own.

Part of what makes this novel so alluring is how relatable the nostalgia component of it is. After all, who doesn’t look back on silly memories with their loved ones with longing and awe? It’s easy to understand Charlie’s reluctance to embrace the shift to adulthood because most of us have been there before.

Charlie’s mom’s comic strip, which reproduces and exaggerates the experiences of the Grants, does a great job at mirroring Charlie’s illusions of the past. The strip leaves out the problematic aspects of these memories, just like Charlie so often does — and just like so many of us do in everyday life.

3. Nonstop drama

Linnie’s wedding in Save the Date is practically modeled after Murphy’s Law, the concept that anything that can go wrong will. But while Matson keeps readers on their toes, waiting for the next problem to reveal itself, her novel never delves too deeply into negative territory.

For the majority of the book, the obstacles to a successful wedding are ridiculous to the point of being comical. And the foreshadowing is so spot on that it’s easy to see what’s coming next. It’s difficult not to smile and laugh while watching it all unravel.

The lighthearted nature of these problems also provides a wonderful contrast to the more serious climax of the novel. It drives home the realization that, at the end of the day, material things aren’t what we remember about the greatest moments of our lives. The little details don’t matter because our feelings during those moments are the only things that stay with us.

4. Gripping romances

Although Save the Date isn’t centered on romantic relationships, they certainly do pop up over the course of the story. Matson doesn’t give us easy, linear subplots that result in “happily ever after.” Instead, she weaves valuable lessons into the text, teaching her characters and her readers what it means to be in healthy relationships.

The book begins with an intense moment between Charlie and her childhood crush, but their interactions over the next 400 pages teach Charlie a thing or two about love. She realizes that she’s projected her ideal traits onto someone she hardly knows, a phenomenon that’s all too common during teenage years.

Not only is it wonderful to see a character acknowledge and move past this, but the novel ends with Charlie doing her own thing. Sure, Matson hints at a potentially blooming romance. But Charlie doesn’t need to end the book in a serious relationship. She’s perfectly fine working on herself, something that’s refreshing to see at the end of a young adult contemporary book.

5. The use of time and place

Matson uses her setting skillfully throughout Save the Date, relying on the tight space and short timeline to propel her characters into action. By cramming the majority of her cast into one house, she increases the likelihood that their grudges and secrets will eventually come pouring out.

There’s also a certain urgency to the story, likely stemming from the fact that it occurs in such a short period of time. Matson herself acknowledged this, stating:

"I wanted to challenge myself to write a story that took place on a more limited time frame – three days, as opposed to a whole summer."

She attributes these constraints to helping her story in Save the Date “take shape,” and readers will likely agree that the structural decision works in her favor. It gives the book the “high-drama environment” she intended, and it provides a fun backdrop to play with.

6. Themes of change

The overarching theme of Matson’s latest story is accepting change. Charlie tends to look at her past through rose-colored lenses, even occasionally replacing her own memories with happier ones from her mother’s comic strip. This nostalgia makes it difficult for Charlie to let go of her childhood, something readers see through her insistence on holding onto family traditions.

But as the drama unfolds, Charlie slowly begins to realize that hanging onto the past doesn’t prevent the future from happening. And no matter how much she wants her life to remain the way it’s been, she can’t allow this to dictate her decisions going forward.

When asked what she most wants her readers to take away from Save the Date, Matson responded with this general sentiment. She said:

"I hope they enjoy spending time with the Grant family — they were my favorite family to write about. And I hope that maybe they learn, like Charlie does, that sometimes you have to let go of old ideas and illusions in order to move forward in life."

It certainly is a powerful and important message to send younger readers.

7. The book tour

If you do decide to pick up Save the Date, you may find yourself wanting to know more about the Grants and their world. Luckily, Matson is heading on tour once her new novel is released. Fans will be able to meet with the author and listen to her speak about her experience writing Save the Date. She’ll be traveling for the entire month of June, beginning in New York and ending in California.

On the subject of touring, Matson is just as excited to promote her book as readers are to get their hands on it:

"Touring is one of my favorite parts about being a writer — I love meeting fans, talking to them, signing books and getting to travel the country and visit some of its best bookstores. I’m particularly excited to have a stop in Canada — I haven’t been since I was a kid, and I’ve never done a book event there. I’m so looking forward to meeting fans there!"

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How can that sort of excitement not be contagious? Save the Date comes out on Tuesday, June 5. If you’re into lighthearted reads and family drama, you should make a point to pick up a copy.