While a reader might select this story after reading The Night We Said Yes with the expectation of obtaining further insights into Matt’s character, tWhile a reader might select this story after reading The Night We Said Yes with the expectation of obtaining further insights into Matt’s character, the revelations provided are somewhat muted. When reading The Night We Said Yes, Matt seems a rather aloof and distant character. Through his interactions with Ella, it is apparent that he has difficulty in communicating his thoughts and feelings. “Matt’s Story” shows the reader the depth of this awkward aloofness. Again the author plays with the idea of truth or dare. Though it is a game he is willing to play, Matt is unwilling to apply it to his own life circumstances. As a result, Matt is passive throughout and willingly lets circumstances take control. In a way, this allows the reader to question the veracity of his feelings towards others.
Unfortunately, as with The Night We Said Yes, the timeline of this story affects the conflicts that occur. Matt’s external conflicts with his friends, as well as his brother are muted as a result of the various shifts in time. The reader doesn’t get to experience these important relationship developments, though we’re told they’ve occurred. Arguably, this also can negatively impact Matt’s moment of catharsis and internal self-revelation, which should have been such a momentous moment for him and for the reader.
That said, this is a short story. Through this medium, it achieves what it set out to do, namely, provide the reader with further insights into what took place during Matt’s six month disappearance, and what led him to the course of action he takes in The Night We Said Yes. ...more
The Night We Said Yes tells a story about loss and second chances, personal fears and the courage needed to face them. Essentially, the story describeThe Night We Said Yes tells a story about loss and second chances, personal fears and the courage needed to face them. Essentially, the story describes two nights—one past, one present—that are especially salient to the two main characters, Matt and Ella. Two meetings—one that’s full of shyness, hope and happiness, the other wrought with tension and strain, even though there is the potential hope of change. The author plays with the idea of “truth or dare” — a game the main characters play over the course of the novel. When faced with the truth, does one have enough courage to dare try again? In order for this to be successful, trust is needed. The story essentially attempts to chronicle the building and rebuilding of this trust between Matt and Ella.
As the story progresses, the reader can see that both are culpable for the problems that have arisen in their friendship over the year in which these meetings occur. Though it’s apparent Matt and Ella have chemistry, they’re also uncomfortable with each other. Both try to mask it, which only leads to further problems, increasing the lack of trust that exists between them.
Though I enjoyed parts of this story, I don’t feel the choice of timeframe is conducive to the weighty decision-making the characters face. While it does work for the story set in the past, Matt and Ella’s initial meeting, the present day story would have been better told over the course of a few days or weeks. There is too much happening over the course of this one night—too many revelations and emotional changes for any meaningful decision making to occur. The sudden changes in Ella’s reactions to the situations in which she’s placed make her seem somewhat flippant and immature. This feeling is only heightened by various little contradictory comments and internal musings that are made throughout the story, not just about herself, but with her relationship with Matt and her best friend as well. Unfortunately, this can detract from the optimistic feeling the reader should be able to derive from the book’s final pages. Is Ella’s final choice solely based upon a new dare rather than one based upon an understanding of truth and trust? ...more
When I first learned Ms. Fitzpatrick was penning a sequel to My Life Next Door written from the point of view of Tim Mason, I was truly excited. My LiWhen I first learned Ms. Fitzpatrick was penning a sequel to My Life Next Door written from the point of view of Tim Mason, I was truly excited. My Life Next Door ends with many themes that could be further explored: Tim’s sobriety, his relationship with his troubled sister, parental issues, as well as his growing attraction towards Alice.
In The Boy Most Likely To, the reader is introduced to a new source of conflict for Tim, one that unfortunately tests the boundaries of plausibility and even practicality. This new Hester/baby addition should have easily been solved in a matter of days, especially when Tim’s parents became involved, considering all of the expenses lost on lawyer’s fees and the like. This storyline is meant to demonstrate Tim’s willingness to change and adapt, tangible proof of his growing maturity. However, the fact that he does not immediately question the story he is told, and obtain proof of its validity arguably undermines this potential growth.
Also since this storyline is the main focus of the novel, all of those other important themes and conflicts that were previously introduced become lost in the shuffle. Although Fitzpatrick does ultimately address them, their resolutions are seemingly insufficient given the depth of those problems, especially the issues his sister is facing. There are a lot of unfinished questions there, enough for a potential sequel.
Though it pains me to say this, The Boy Most Likely To is not among Huntley Fitzpatrick’s best work....more
Faithful readers of Sarah Dessen will find this novel a marked contrast to her previous works. While Dessen doesn’t shy away from weighty topics, suchFaithful readers of Sarah Dessen will find this novel a marked contrast to her previous works. While Dessen doesn’t shy away from weighty topics, such as physical and verbal abuse and drug use, this book manages to have a darker, graver tone, even though the protagonist isn't the main contributor. The book’s opening scene is a courtroom sentencing. And though the reader isn't immediately informed of the crime, nor the extent of the defendant’s punishment, the reader does experience the sinking fear and even embarrassment felt by the protagonist when watching the outcome of her brother’s crime. The book itself chronicles how Sydney’s family copes with the aftermath…how her father buries himself in his work, how her mother becomes obsessively and oppressively involved in her son’s life in prison, and how Sydney’s brother’s best friend ingratiates himself even more into their lives.
It wouldn’t be a Dessen novel unless there was a potential love interest for the main character. This inclusion is needed to help lighten the mood of the novel’s underlying dark tone. Essentially, Mac and his family provide some form of guidance and respite for Sydney during this time of hardship and personal crisis—support she is not getting at home. Dessen’s clever in not portraying Sydney as someone infallible; and through her, the reader does gain some sense of understanding of how sudden choices and decisions can mushroom into something worse, potentially providing some insight into what drove her brother to make those fateful decisions. There are many conflicts in this book, and I like the fact that the reader is shown active interactions between adults and teens that lead to conclusive resolutions, unlike some of Dessen’s previous books.
As a side note, I wish it was part of Dessen’s style to write from the point of view of a male protagonist. An interesting and compelling story could be made about Sydney’s brother Peyton. As with the character Jason Talbot who briefly appears in several of Dessen’s other novels, there is a lot of potential for character development here. I think both of these characters would make for creative, noteworthy spin-off stories. ...more