Publication date: June 5th, 2012
Published by: Poppy
Genre: YA Contemporary
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.
I've been wanting to read The Duff and Shut Out for such a long time but for some reason I was always postponing it. When Little Brown sent me Midsummer's Nightmare however, I thought it's time to familiarize myself with Keplinger's work, whom I've been hearing awesome things about. So MN was the first book I read by her.
Female protag Whitley (what kind of name is that, anyway?) has some family issues. Her parents went through an ugly divorce some years back, and her mother has quit on her and on life in general. With her older brother living with his own family out of town, it's Whitley's chance, and right, she thinks, to be wild and party all the time. When her dad comes to take her to their annual summer vac at their cottage she is surprised to hear that he decided to have a new family, one that Whitley would very soon meet and spend the whole summer with. The story begins from there, as we see the changes in family dynamics and Whitley's desperate attempts for so much needed affection.
It's obvious that Whitley has emotional baggage, created part from her, let's be honest, horrible parents, her brother's absence and of course her own will to use all that as an excuse to shy away from reality and responsibility. She is mad at her mom who was never there for her but only cared about herself, her dad who basically did the same, her brother for leaving her with them, even at the one night stand who dared ask for her number. She is unbelievably pissed at everyone for "ruining" her life, that she misses the big picture, and as a result loses herself along the way.
Her relationship with Nathan was OK but not as romantic as I would have wanted or expected. I guess it was because of the whole almost-relatives debacle. They had scenes together but in most of them either Nathan was pissed at Whitley or Whitley was pissed at Nathan. I liked Bailey's character, Nathan's sister. I don't think she was just a background character, but rather the incentive Whitley needed to change her life. She played a huge part in Whitley's epiphany, more I believe than her parents or Nathan.
What I found hard to swallow however, was how quickly everything solved itself out. I know that there's a limit to books' length, I don't mind that. What I do mind is that 5 pages before the end everything is a tangled mess and suddenly, right before the last sentences, everything is fine and dandy. Keplinger addresses some serious issues here, underage drinking, divorce, bullying, neglect parenting. You can't pretend all these problems are easy to solve, and if they are, you can't expect from the people affected, in this case Whitley, to adapt to the changes that the solution brings so easily. It just didn't seem real to me in an otherwise very realistic contemporary novel.
Was Midsummer's Nightmare the best book ever? No. I don't think that was the author's intention, anyway. Was it horrible? No way. You can't put it down, a great quality in a book if you ask me, and it touches a lot of sensitive subjects for a lot of teenagers, but not exclusively.
My first encounter with a Keplinger book was not bad, so I recommend to those who have yet to read one of her books, to give it a try.