Review: Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson

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.

Title: Take Me Home Tonight
Author: Morgan Matson
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Targeted Age Range: Young Adult
Representation: Lesbian minor character
Trigger Warnings: Divorce, absentee parenting, knife (chapter 9), attempted mugging (chapter 11), guns (multiple “back in connecticut” chapters), mentioned death of a parent (chapter 18), mentions of underage drinking (chapter 21, chapter 28), gun fire (“back in canada” chapter), mentions of the fbi and cia (multiple “back in connecticut”/”back in canada” chapters)
Rating:  ★★★★★

If I had to pick a song to associate with Take Me Home Tonight (besides the song of the same name by Eddie Money), it would absolutely be Taylor Swift’s Welcome to New York. This book is fast paced, fun, a bit chaotic and alluring. 

Take Me Home Tonight has been at the top of my TBR since finishing Matson’s fifth novel, Save the Date, in 2018. So to say that I was excited for Take Me Home Tonight would be a definite understatement. I was counting down the days and practically jumped for joy when my copy arrived. I had high expectations as I’ve loved all of Matson’s previous works, and I was not disappointed. 

Take Me Home Tonight was a book of escapism and nostalgia for me. During the pandemic, I have spent a lot of time reading books that involve travel, as my wanderlust is at an ultimate high right now. This book was perfect for that. It transported me to New York City and had me reminiscing on days and nights spent in the city with my best friend and Kat’s love and passion for theatre made me think about my time performing as a teenager. I experienced a lot of nostalgia while reading Take Me Home Tonight and I loved every minute of it.

I always love Matson’s characters. Personally I feel that she is an excellent writer of character. Her characters are fun, interesting and likable, but they’re also flawed. They feel like real people and they’re relatable. Whenever I read her books there’s at least one character that I can relate to, and there’s always one that reminds me of someone I know. She writes characters that are easily accessible and because of this, it’s easy to get engrossed in their stories and root for them and the main characters of Take Me Home Tonight are no exception. 

From the first page, I knew that I was going to love Kat. I felt a connection to her as we’re both extraverted theatre kids. She started theatre at 14 and fully dedicated herself to it; I was 15 when I started theatre and did the same. Kat also has a bit of difficulty with change and things not going her way, which I can relate to. As the book goes on, you see her come to terms with the fact that things are not always going to pan out the way that she had planned and that it’s okay. She also has a tendency to be a bit selfish and she definitely goes through some major realizations about it. 

Stevie was the opposite of Kat. While Kat could be impulsive and outspoken, Stevie was more inclined to think things through and keep some things to herself. At the beginning of the book, Stevie struggled to stand up for herself and to speak up when something is bothering her. She was struggling with her parents divorce, and the fact that her father remarried and no longer lived in the same state as her. She was holding onto a lot of anger about the situation, as well as some unfounded anger towards her step siblings. Through the story the reader gets to see Stevie gain more confidence and stand up for herself which was lovely. It was also great to see her let her guard down and really get to know her step siblings as well as working to repair her relationship with her dad.

Stories that center around female friendships are definitely a draw for me, and the friendship between Kat and Stevie is absolutely the heart and soul of this book. Kat and Stevie are both great characters, and I adored them. I loved their friendship that consisted of things like sharing a locker, referring to each other as “frond” and frand”, and sticking up for each other and supporting one another. Early on in the book Kat says that from the minute she and Stevie met they clicked and it was just as if they said “you’re my person” and that just absolutely warmed my heart (and that absolutely had be thinking of Meredith and Cristina on Grey’s Anatomy and I was basically the physical embodiment of the heart eyes emoji). Of course they have their problems, which results in a huge blow up in a subway in New York City but that fight ends up making their friendship stronger and helps the two of them grow as people. Love, whether it be romantic or platonic, has its struggles. But the important thing is that at the end of it all you know that no matter what, no matter how bad that argument is, you’ll be able to get through it and that person will always be there for you. Kat and Stevie definitely had that, and it was lovely to read. 

“I had a theory…that love was about paying attention. It’s the one thing you can’t buy or fake or make up for at the last minute. So the things that meant the most to me were the little details that told you someone had been paying attention, memorizing your random preferences, letting you know they cared.”

I also adored the side characters. Particularly Terri, and Stevie’s step siblings Matty and Margaux. I loved that there were a handful or so of scenes that took place in Connecticut so that we could see what was going on with Terri and her crazy babysitting adventure (Matson should honestly write a mystery novel because that was so wild). Stevie’s step siblings, Matty and Margaux were fun and interesting. I would read an entire book about Stevie and her step siblings, Mallory included even though we don’t see much of her. Though if we’re being totally honest, the true star of this book was Brad the Pomeranian. I loved him, he’s an absolute star. 

One of my favorite things about Matson’s books is how she always sneaks in mentions of characters from previous stories. I personally get so attached to her characters and often wonder what their lives are like post-book, so it’s nice to get to revisit some of them once in a while. In Take Me Home Tonight we get to hear a little bit about Gelsey Edwards from Second Chance Summer, Beckett Hughes from Since You’ve Been Gone is a minor character here (and in high school now, which made me feel old), and Amy Curry from Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour actually plays a bigger role in this story than I would’ve initially thought, which was so great. I loved getting to read about what Amy has been up to, but I will say, when I found out [redacted] I was slightly heartbroken and had to stop reading for about 5 minutes, but it’s fine! (insert crying emoji here). There’s also a little mention of The Henry Gales, also from Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, which brought me a lot of joy.

I love that Matson most often has some mentions of theatre in her books, as she was a theatre major in college. So of course, I absolutely loved all the theatre references. Whenever Kat talked about what theatre meant to her it warmed my heart because it’s very similar to what theatre means to me. It was really lovely to see how much Amy had inspired her and how Kat felt that her dreams were that much more attainable because Amy was from the same school she was. That’s definitely relatable for me and the kids at my youth theatre company as a few of our alums have become professional Broadway performers. It was so fun to read about the productions that Kat and Stevie had been part of in school – honestly a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream set at a Coachella-esque music festival sounds really interesting and I would run to see that production. The mentions of cast bonding activities and inside jokes had me seriously missing the days when I was performing and brought back a lot of wonderful memories.

I had been waiting for Take Me Home Tonight for so long and once I could finally hold the book in my hands, I didn’t want to put it down. This was another incredibly enjoyable and entertaining book from Morgan Matson, and I already can’t wait for her next one. 

Links for Take Me Home Tonight: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | IndieBound

Morgan Matson was born in New York City and grew up there and in Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College as a theater major, but halfway through, switched her focus to writing and never looked back. She received an MFA in Writing for Children from the New School, and then a second MFA in Screenwriting from USC.

She is the New York Times bestselling author of six books, all published by Simon & Schuster. 

She currently lives in Los Angeles with her rescue terrier, Murphy, in a house with blue floors that’s overflowing with books.

Follow Morgan: Website | Twitter | Instagram

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