Book Review: A Midsummer's Nightmare
By: Kody Keplinger
Published By: Poppy
Publication Date: June 2012
Page Count: 291
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Young Adult - Contemporary
A Midsummer's Nightmare is the story of Whitley, a mean, drunken, party girl; someone who is a little bit broken, with very low self esteem. She is the product of a split home, and both her parents suck. Her mother is a neglectful shrew, only interested in trashing her ex-husband at every opportunity, and not at all concerned with what Whitley gets up to. Her dad is a local celebrity and only sees her once a year for the summer, when he treats her like his best friend, not his daughter. This is where the story starts, as Whitley is picked up by her dad to start the summer, only to find out that he has a fiancée, a new house, and Whitley is about to gain some step-siblings. Too bad for her that she has already met Nathan, and she is intimately familiar with him.
It was easy to dislike Whitley at the beginning, since she had so few redeeming features. I was glad that as the story unraveled, she softens up a little bit and let's a few people in. She is very loathe to believe her step-mother-to-be could be nice, but she takes it slow and gets to know her new family. She is pretty careless to begin with but eventually after a series of foul-ups she starts to realise that she has found some good people, and perhaps her first real friend. Too bad then that she just can't stop thinking about Nathan, who is there for her in ways no one ever has been as a friend, future step-brother and ex-conquest. He is forbidden fruit though and she can't help herself, and it seems as if he feels the same.
It was pretty compelling to read about Whitley and Nathan, firstly annoying each other ridiculously, and then getting comfy as Whitley realises she can count on him. She really does need someone to count on too, as Whitley becomes a target of pretty horrific online bullying. This is something that was distasteful but also very believable and I wish more had been made of it than her simply trying to ignore the problem (or drink it away). I think online bullying is a real issue and it would have been very useful if this book had gone into some sort of detail about what victims of it can do. Ignoring it is a reasonable message, but this was an opportunity to educate that was lost.
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.