A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Forbidden Love, Family Relationships, Cyber-bullying
This is the kind of book that, even if you’ve never read it before, the moment you start it everything about it feels so … familiar, as though it makes complete sense that this story exists and the characters feel like already established friends.
I actually had to ask myself whether I had read it before, that’s how connected I felt to Whitley, Nathan and Bailey. You know what, maybe in a way I have. After all, there are plenty of YA books about rebel children of divorced parents who act out to get attention and because they feel lost in the world and within their own relationships. There are also many YA stories about forbidden love that is oh so wrong but oh so right.
And yet. I really liked it. The teenage angst didn’t bother me. On the contrary, it entertained me, mainly because it was hidden behind lots of cynicism and sarcasm. Whitley isn’t one to share her deepest emotions and thoughts all that easily. She has no friends, not until she meets Harrison that is, and her family is separated in three different locations. It’s lonely, and Whitley has her own way of dealing with loneliness.
You know what I also liked? How often it surprised me. One minute I would be smiling or shaking my head at something Whitley said or did, and the next moment I would feel compassion and understanding for her. I definitely found her more entertaining than Bianca from THE DUFF and Nathan more charming than Wesley.
A bit of a spoiler: I do find problematic that the cyber-bullying wasn’t dealt with at all—only the emotions Whitley was feeling about it were explored. Also, the sexual assault scenes, which affected both Whitley and Bailey pretty badly, were also too quickly dismissed from the plotline. Thank goodness we’ve come farther in YA literature with regards to these issues since 2012.