Thursday, May 13, 2021

Young Adult Review: Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson

Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson
Published: May 4th, 2021

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult

# of pages: 416

My rating: 4 stars

Acquired this book: From the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for honest consideration

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Buy: Amazon Canada || Amazon US || Indigo

Two girls. One night. Zero phones.

Kat and Stevie—best friends, theater kids, polar opposites—have snuck away from the suburbs to spend a night in New York City. They have it all planned out. They’ll see a play, eat at the city’s hottest restaurant, and have the best. Night. Ever. What could go wrong?

Well. Kind of a lot?

They’re barely off the train before they’re dealing with destroyed phones, family drama, and unexpected Pomeranians. Over the next few hours, they’ll have to grapple with old flames, terrible theater, and unhelpful cab drivers. But there are also cute boys to kiss, parties to crash, dry cleaning to deliver (don’t ask), and the world’s best museum to explore.

Over the course of a wild night in the city that never sleeps, both Kat and Stevie will get a wake-up call about their friendship, their choices…and finally discover what they really want for their future.

That is, assuming they can make it to Grand Central before the clock strikes midnight.

I’ve been a fan of Morgan Matson’s books since I fell in love with Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour ten years ago. When you pick up one of her books, you know you’re going to get well-developed characters, realistic portrayals of friendships, lots of laughs, likely a few tears, and a sweet and swoony romance. Take Me Home Tonight had all those things, plus a fun premise and a vivid setting.

Best friends Kat and Stevie are complete opposites, but they love each other unconditionally and would do anything for each other. So when Stevie’s dad bails on her 18th birthday dinner in New York City, Kat suggests they go into the city anyway for a night of fun. Their plan is foolproof, as far as Kat’s concerned...but they weren’t counting on one disaster and mishap after another starting before they even arrived in the city. 

This book was so much fun. It started out a little slow and took me a while to warm up to Kat and Stevie, but once I did I was completely invested in their story and was cheering them on. They were well-developed and realistic, and I could relate to each of them in different ways. I was amazed and impressed with how well Matson managed to pull off so much believable character development and growth in the span of the one-night setting. There were also a lot of great side characters in this book (Brad the dog and Cary-with-six-jobs were my favourites), and I loved how New York City really came alive and felt like a character itself.

While I know I’m not the intended target audience for this book - I’m more than twice Kat and Stevie’s age - I also know many adults will read this book and think about how the girls’ phoneless adventure was how we lived every day growing up. It was amusing while also being realistic; we’re all so attached to and dependent on our phones these days for entertainment, mindless scrolling, posting endless updates, keeping in touch with everyone we know, taking pictures, etc. If Stevie and Kat had had their phones, their night would have ended up a lot different, so I loved that aspect of the story and how it forced them to be resourceful and also live in the moment.

I’m not sure if I can call this an ‘issue’, but my only *thing* with this book was how long it was. I’ve come to expect that from Matson’s books and you always inevitably get to a part where it doesn’t actually feel all that long, but 400+ pages for a contemporary set in the span of one night is a lot. Mild spoiler alert: I had mixed feelings about the side story with Teri; it was entertaining, but it was also completely unnecessary and made a really long book even longer. And while the main storyline with Kat and Stevie was wild, it was mostly believable, whereas Teri’s storyline was just so out there.

Take Me Home Tonight was a highly entertaining read. I felt like I was right there with Kat and Stevie in NYC. I felt for both of them and was rooting for them. I laughed at their mishaps and felt the pangs at the painful lessons they learned. After ten years, Morgan Matson continues to be a favourite author, and I couldn’t be happier.

Have you read Take Me Home Tonight? Who are some of your auto-buy authors?

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