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.
OPINION: 4 STARS
A Midsummer’s Nightmare is, to date, my favorite of Keplinger’s books, showcasing her growing talent immensely. With a very compelling and beautifully scripted protagonist, and diving deeper into the emotions this time around, A Midsummer’s Nightmare is both stunning and aching. Moving at a smooth clip and holding a great blend of sweetness and rougher stuff, this one is striking both in the vivid voice and gripping characters.
Whitley is, in all honesty, a mess and at times, selfish in a potentially turn off way. And yet, Keplinger has written her so deeply that not once did I dislike her, but rather felt so much for her. Still stuck in the fallout of her parent’s divorce six years before, and living with a mother who has yet to get over it and constantly gripes about the dad, she acts out in some big ways in an unconscious effort for attention. A party girl through and through, Whitley keeps a barrier between herself and everyone else, classifying ‘friends’ only as though she plays drinking games with before going their separate ways. While getting past the partying ways plays a role in the story, it’s small compared to everything else she faces, most notably not only letting people close to her but seeing the truth in her parents. Idolizing her dad at the start of the book, but facing some big issues with him as things progress, there is a huge family element to this that Keplinger weaves poignantly. Whitley’s entire characterization is stunningly done, pushing her to some dark places and never making things too easy for her.
Nathan is an equally well done character, somewhat of a mess as well but in different ways. He challenges Whitley like no else does, and easily sees through the front she puts up. With scenes both awkward and tender between the two, but also having some hefty and painful ones as well, the growing relationship between Nathan and Whitley adds a huge element to the book. Though the fact that they’ll soon be stepsiblings certainly comes into play, the fact that they also have feelings for each other and aren’t actually related also wars against that. Keplinger straddles that line smoothly, and goes far to develop her characters more because of it. Nathan is definitely a guy that will make readers melt, with a soft intensity to him and a big heart.
Then there’s Bailey, the soon to be stepsister, who is full of life and able to draw even cynical Whitley out of her shell. Forgiving even of the bigger things, and instantly accepting, she’s a great addition not only to the story but to Whitley’s story arc as well. While Whitley’s dad holds a certain distance from as the book progresses, her stepmom tries her best to be there, even when Whitley blatantly pushes her away. Torn between her fiancé, her children, and the stepdaughter she refuses to hate, Sylvia stars in some big and well done scenes.
The plot of this one focuses on Whitley trying to figure everything out and get over the several years worth of anger she’s built up, but Keplinger keeps things moving steadily and has enough subplots weaving through to keep readers engaged. Though there are some explosive and painful scenes, a few of them felt like they were over a little too quickly and easily for me, and one of the more potent plot lines felt like it wrapped up too easily and fizzled. Apart from this small facet, this book is intricate and intriguing, and will not only punch readers in the gut a few times but bring unstoppable grins to their faces as well.
Source: Hardcover received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading Level: 14 and up
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publication Date: June 5, 2012