Release Date: June 16, 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
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.
Initially, the summary for this book really hooked me. I love YA, and I love relationship-based stories, and I really do love the ones that take you on a quest-type adventure. So I really did think this one would be a big hit for me. Unfortunately, I just wasn't left with what I expected.
The story is told in alternating chapters between what happened back "then" and what's happening "now. Back then, Ella's friend Mae was with Jake, and Ella herself met Matt. They all formed a friendship and were paired off as couples. They had one amazing night where they all said yes to everything. Ella and Matt had a relationship until one day he just disappeared on her with no explanation to her or their friends. Now he's back.
There was a lot of potential here for some good relationship drama, considering that in the "now", Matt has returned, and Mae and Jake have been on and off again and there's a question as to whether everyone will get back together, learn, grow, and build better relationships. And I love Then and Now stories. But then...everything just started not to work for me.
The alternating chapters with their different storylines blended together and became repetitive. I didn't feel like we were actually going anywhere in the story. It seemed somewhat plotless, and I didn't feel like I really knew or at least connected with the characters. It was like, "here are Ella, Matt, Jake, and Mae... they did this back then, and now they're doing this now, and don't you love them?" I was waiting for some deeper characterization and never received it really.
I thought the author handled the altering chapters well, with good transitions that didn't confuse, but the story itself just didn't progress for me beyond repeating the past. I found myself growing bored very quickly. I struggled through it but in the end, this story just wasn't for me. I hope others are able to enjoy it more.