Book Review: ‘The Night We Said Yes’ by Lauren Gibaldi

the night we said yesBefore 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.

I think I’m oversaturated on YA contemporaries at the moment, because this felt like the same old high school schtick, and I’m looking for a little more to capture my attention these days.

The novel is told in chapters depicting alternating time periods–the evening that our MC and her love interest meet, as well as the night a year later when they meet up again after he disappears from her life with no warning. However, because on their subsequent meeting they recreate the events of the night they first met, it did become a bit confusing for me, due to the similarities.

I had a number of issues with this book. Firstly, the excuse that Matt uses for his unexplained absence and lack of communication after he moves away seems pretty flimsy. I just didn’t see how it was big or bad enough for him to justify his behavior, or the buildup of suspense, for that matter.

Secondly, I found the writing quite stilted–there were certain sentences that stood out for me with their weird construction. In addition, there’s some instalove going on, although, to be fair to the book, the L word isn’t actually used that first night, thankfully. The subsequent melodrama in the aftermath of Matt’s departure also grated on my nerves–Ella’s life is over, she’s shattered, she needs to learn to live again, etc. It’s high school. We all know high school is just a temporary stop on the way to the rest of your life. You’re seventeen. You’ll be just fine. But maybe this is just me talking as a cynical twenty-something year-old.

However, there were some good points. It was enjoyable watching Ella stand up for herself the second time around, allowing herself to think about things without rushing back into Matt’s arms. I also liked that they showed an inkling of learning how to communicate with each other properly, instead of through messages that were open to misinterpretation. Finally, I’m always a sucker for well-written female friendships, which is epitomized in the relationship between Ella and Meg.

Overall, though, I found this to be a fairly average read–but from the many reviews I’ve seen of this book, I appear to be the black sheep–so take that into consideration!

ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/10

Hannah is a twenty-something born and bred Capetonian who adores reading and reviewing books, and encouraging critical discussion on all things pop culture. Currently a politics graduate student, she spent two years working in digital marketing before deciding she missed the student life. Loves QI, travel, dark chocolate, fantasy & YA books, pilates and sarcasm.