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. ~From GoodReads
Here's a first: I'm almost speechless. Not because I didn't like the book (I loved it). Not because I have nothing to say (you know me better than that). I'm struggling because I have so much to say. A Midsummer's Nightmare struck such a nerve with me, and I have a lot of feelings about the themes. Apparently.
So first off, let me start with Whitley. This girl, she's not easy to love. At all. I spent the first half of the book wanting to smack the crap out of her. She's rude, abrasive, swears so much she even got on my nerves (tough feat, as I'm quite the accomplished potty mouth), and is just an all-around beyotch. The girl had a hot, sweet guy who wanted more than a one-night stand; she turns him down, harshly. She has a new almost-step family who genuinely wants to embrace her; she barely tolerates them. She has the opportunity to make true friends; she keeps her distance. All these things about Whitley made me almost struggle with the book.
But then, it hit me, all of these aversions were a reflection of Whitley and the way she uses them in her own life. Because the deal is, if you don't let people close to you, they can't hurt you. In theory. You can pretend that the things people say about you doesn't hurt, because you they're not your friends and you know it's not true. And hey, when your parents pay zero attention to you, any attention is good attention, right?? But the fact of the matter is, words hurt, bad perceptions hurt, can even cause you harm or danger, and that's a lesson the Whitley must learn. That fact that Whitley undergoes this journey towards self-worth, self-esteem was not something that expected when I began reading A Midsummer's Nightmare. But I found it the most moving, thought-provoking theme in the book.
If you haven't read the book yet, you don't know Nathan Caulfield. You must remedy that immediately! And I'll say it, I love good guys in my books. Yes, bad boys can be a lot of fun, but I'll take the good guy any day of the week. Nathan is Whitley's soon-to-be step-brother, with whom she has a funny, and cringe-worthy connection. Nathan was my favorite character in the story. He is practically perfect, in a non-annoying way: handsome, smart, a bit nerdy, athletic, and is so sweet and generous to his family. But Nathan has a few issues of his own, and Whitley learns that perception does not equal reality. That maybe she's capable of hurting others in the same way she's been hurt.
How I wish more books like A Midsummer's Nightmare had been around when I was a teen. Were there any books like this in the 90s? If they were out there, I didn't know about them. Teen girls now are so lucky. Yes, society is a cruel place sometimes. But they have so many resources now, books out there that can help them in many situations, with characters that can help see them through. Kody Keplinger. Wow. This young lady is brilliant. I've heard a lot about her books, but haven't read any. If A Midsummer's Nightmare is any indication of her talent, I will definitely be reading the rest.
I could talk for days about this book. It took me an hour to read the last few chapters because I kept getting teary-eyed and choked up with emotions. The level of growth that Whitley experiences is remarkable. The amount of love that Whitley finds herself embraced in, despite her best efforts, was almost overwhelming. A Midsummer's Nightmare is a book that I find myself in awe of and it will be treasured. I can't recommend it highly enough.
"Every second Nathan's hands were on me, another moment from graduation night flooded back into my memory. The way his fingertips had pressed into my hips. The way I'd practically thrown him on the bed. The way he'd kissed me, more passionately than anyone ever had. I remembered the half-crazed feeling when he took his time kissing me, touching me, whispering things in my ear." (pg 72)
" '..-you seemed...real. We laughed a lot that night. And when you led me back to the bedroom and I knew what you wanted to do, I just remember thinking, If this girl isn't perfect for me, no one is.' " (pg 188)
Published June 5th 2012 by Poppy
You can purchase A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE at:
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Source: Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.