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 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?