Publication Date: June 5th, 2012
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.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)
So... A Midsummer's Nightmare starts out in a kind of fun way. Whitley is a total party girl, which is something I can totally relate to- or at least I think I could, if only I could remember my first two years of college... She reminded me a lot of myself at that age, so I can tell you that her character was written realistically. She drinks heavily, hooks up with whomever she fancies at the moment, and doesn't have much use for relationships- the people in her life are there to serve her needs. At first she seems comfortable, even happy, with her lifestyle, but as the story progresses, it becomes clear that Whitley's carefully built walls were put in place because she had been carrying around the hurt of being emotionally abandoned by her extremely self-absorbed parents for far too long. She's a strong character, who has a great sarcastic wit, but is at the same time a sympathetic one. It is a fine line an author walks when writing this type of character; if it's not expertly done, you end up with a character who isn't likable, and that can turn the reader off. That isn't the case with this book. Whitley made loads of bad choices and was, more often than not, a total brat, but Kody Keplinger made you look below the surface to see her human side. This was done mostly through Whitley's reluctantly growing affections toward her future step-family, and her realizations that her parents kind of sucked at being parents. I loved how Whitley grew over the course of this book. She came to terms with her own personal demons by allowing herself to care about other people, and more importantly, allowing them to care about her.
This book ended up being a fantastic coming-of-age story that was laced with just enough wit, humor, and sexiness to combat that depressing stuff. It is a perfect subtle cautionary tale. Kody Keplinger has once again written a novel that has me caring about her fictional characters at the end, as though they were real, and A Midsummer's Nightmare is her best yet.
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Grade Level Recommendation: This book contains LOADS of teen drinking, promiscuity, and language. That said, there are always consequences, and not just punishment-from-parents consequences, but serious emotional and social consequences for Whitley's behaviors. I think that this is a great book for young girls to read sooner than later. My daughter will read it between 7th and 8th grade since that's when most girls get curious about drinking, parties, and such. 8th grade and up (ages 13+).