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.
The Night We Said Yes is a snapshot of two people’s relationship on two different nights, one year apart.
Ella first meets Matt at a party. He’s new in town and has joined her friend Jake’s band as the new bassist. Jake also happens to be dating her best friend, Meg. When the party is busted, Matt who wants to spend more time with Ella, suggests that rather than squander the rest of the night, the four of them should take the opportunity to just say “yes” to some new adventures. It’s a dare that allows them to feel free and uninhibited. Throughout that night, Matt and Ella fall harder for each other. They date for the next few months until he abruptly leaves town without an explanation to anyone, cutting of contact with all of them.
Fast forward a year later, they’ve graduated high school and are at another party. Here she unexpectedly comes face-to-face with Matt. It’s a very uncomfortable reunion for everyone and Ella isn’t so sure she even wants to share the same breathing space with him. After a few pleas on his part, Ella decides to give in and hear him out. This doesn’t sit well with Meg who feels that Matt should not be forgiven for how badly he hurt Ella and everyone else. Despite her confusion and hurt feelings, Ella wants answers. She goes with her gut and leaves the party with Matt going against Meg’s opinion. This creates some friction between these close friends.
Gibaldi matches up the events from both nights very nicely with each chapter offering “before” and “now” details into how things unfolded. The backstory was very cute and I couldn’t help but smile as Matt and Ella flirted their way through the night. But I was more keen on their story in the present because of the changing dynamics. These were four tight friends and Matt leaving like that affected them badly. Ella was devastated, Jake was hurt that he’d lost his good friend and Meg had to help see them through the aftermath. Each of them has a different reaction to Matt’s return and whether they're willing to let him back in again. With differing opinions, they’re all forced to have it out about what they expect from each other. Now that they’re moving on to college, things are changing and with some new perspective in place, their friendships are evolving too.
The Night We Said Yes serves up nostalgia for that in between stage of graduating high school and moving on to college. You can't help but reminisce about this short time period where so much happens while you hold on to what's familiar as you put on a brave face to face the unknown. Here best friends grapple with these changes and realize that sometimes even close friends can keep things to themselves because they’re not sure how to share something so personal. And even with that discovery, it's about the friends and memories that are worth holding on to.