A Midsummer's Nightmare
Release date: June 5th, 2012
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Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorcé dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great.
Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her stepbrother...at least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.
Filled with authenticity and raw emotion, Whitley is Kody Keplinger's most compelling character to date: a cynical Holden Caulfield-esque girl you will wholly care about.
*A copy was provided by Hachette Book Group Canada for review purposes*
Whitley's constant partying and flirting has given her quite the reputation, and her only vacation from all of this has turned out to be more of a nightmare. Whitley's problems are intense. She's the kind of character that is not necessarily likeable as she makes dumb, reckless choices and complains incessantly. Strangely, however, I didn't find this irritating; her less than endearing qualities is what makes the story all the more appealing. It gets us to care, to hope that she can come out of it unscathed. She's got a great, compelling voice that leads us to understand her behaviour even when we don't approve of it. She's battling a lot of issues that keep piling up on her; partying. drinking, meaningless hookups is how she escapes her inner demons. I found her emotions to be very raw and genuine, making her easy to connect and sympathize with.
I also enjoyed the side characters a great deal: Fabulous and supporting friend, Harrison; adorable, caring Bailey; geeky, sweet Nathan; even her dad who is largely present by his absence. These people are just as empowering, just as realistically flawed as Whitley, providing us with genuine cast of supporting characters who develop and grow throughout the story as well.
As I mentioned, the plot can seem a bit formulaic. Lashing out, craving parental attention, hitting rock bottom and bouncing back, with everything resolved nicely with a bow at the end. Regardless of its predictability, the journey is poignant, thrilling, and awfully romantic. I was surprised at what started out being hugely family oriented, the story ended up revolving mostly around the romance: An impractical, but impassioned romance. At the beginning Nathan seems very bland and I had a hard time taking hold of his personality. Was he a jock, a geek, someone who parties incessantly, someone tame? As the book moves along, however, we get to know how very atypical of a guy he is. And easily the most warmhearted, kind soul in Whitley's life. The romance itself emits plenty of chemistry, but I'm not sure I was ever truly comfortable with the unorthodox situation. The family seemed to not make much of it either, and we didn't dwell on any future circumstances - the ending left me wanting to know more about the ramifications of this relationship. But as it's meant to be a more breezy summer read I simply rolled with it. Weird situation aside, it's got plenty of swoon-worthy goodness!
It's always risky to write about such strong, controversial topics. Teenage issues can be quite serious and a lot of authors don't want to go too far down that road. I'm very impressed by how Kody addresses it. She wrote an intense, captivating novel with real problems that teenagers can relate to, all the while leaving it into an effortless read.
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