Book Review: Together at Midnight

Together at Midnight
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Page Count: 352
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Young Adult - Contemporary

Kendall is fighting her anxiety as she prepares to return to her high school for the rest of her Senior year after participating in a study abroad program in Europe. Kendall isn't sure she is ready to be back home and even less sure that she wants to finish out her high school education in the typical manner. To make matters worse, Kendall feels like she is less intelligent than others because she struggles with ADHD. 

Max is working a dead end telemarketing job and living with his Dad while he keeps an eye on his ex-girlfriend, Eliza, hoping she won't self destruct. Max put off his admission to Brown, but finds that he resents Eliza for this choice more than he should. He is unhappy with his current situation, but feels helpless to change his course. He finds himself stuck in a posh, yet aging New York City apartment with his cantankerous grandfather until a nurse can be hired to stay with the elderly man. Max can think of a million things he'd rather do than babysit his grandfather, but he just doesn't have the heart to let his family down. Max's fatal flaw is his need to make sure everyone around him is taken care of without truly thinking about his own needs and feelings.

Kendall and Max have a history, but haven't seen each other since before Kendall headed off to Europe. Neither of them has thought much about that night they kissed while Max was still dating Eliza and Kendall was nursing a broken heart after Max's friend, Jamie, rejected her. Kendall and Max didn't plan to find themselves in a steamy embrace, but they certainly didn't mean for Eliza to witness it. Even though Max knew things with Eliza weren't going to work before his kiss with Kendall, he feels guilty for getting caught up in the moment and chooses to do his best to repair the damage he's caused. 

Jamie has had plenty of time to think about Kendall while she was away and the pair have been flirting via photographs for weeks. Kendall has high hopes that Jamie has reconsidered his initial stance on a romantic relationship between them and when she finds herself in New York City for a few days between Christmas and New Years, she invites him to the city to hang out. The pair has a wonderful day and it appears that everything is on track, but witnessing a tragic event has a way of derailing things. Jamie, Kendall, and Max will all be forever changed by that day and what happens to Luna, a total stranger who happens to have the worst day of her life unfold in front of the trio as well as multiple other New Yorkers. Both Kendall and Max feel they could have done more to help Luna before things escalated. 

Kendall and Max are both struggling with the guilt that keeps gnawing at their minds and hearts. They know that nobody else can truly understand what they are experiencing except the other, so they agree to meet to talk about everything. This encounter will lead the pair to begin a challenge of being kind to strangers throughout New York City. These moments of kindness range from small random acts of kindness to larger ones. While many of us have tried to participate in random acts of kindness, we rarely know what happens to those we have extended our aid to, but I loved that in this novel, there are smaller chapters from the recipients to explain how and why they reacted to Kendall and Max. It truly made me consider that we never truly know the path others walk even when the visual evidence would lead us to believe certain things.

Along the way to complete seven acts of random kindness before midnight on New Years Eve, Kendall and Max will learn more about themselves than they could have ever imagined. They also might just discover that they were meant to find one another again.

This contemporary novel left me feeling hopeful for 2018 as I began to contemplate what random acts of kindness I can perform in the upcoming year. I was also really happy to see that the romance, while it did have its predictable moments, was more mature than I was expecting. Kendall and Max grow a lot during their days together. This is the perfect novel to start your 2018 reading list. Life isn't perfect - it's messy and chaotic, but we can control how we choose to react to those messes. I, for one, will be showing a bit more kindness, a lot more patience, and arming myself with a smile and a sense of humor in the coming year.

P.S. - I also was ecstatic to find a novel set in that in between time from December 26 - January 1. I loved being able to read this one in the relative dates of the novel. It's also highly appropriate that I am drafting this review on New Years Eve.

One Last Gripe: I was annoyed by some of Kendall's choices.

Favorite Thing About This Book: I enjoyed the blizzard scenes. I imagine New York to be magical during a snowfall. 

Okay, that's way too much pressure.

Favorite Character: Max

Least Favorite Character: Eliza

What does it really mean to be kind . . . and why does it sometimes feel like the hardest thing in the world to do? High school senior Kendall, who just returned from a life-changing semester in Europe, and Max, who is drifting his way through a gap year before college, struggle with these questions when they witness a tragic accident in New York City during the holiday season. Racked with guilt, the two accept a dare to perform random acts of kindness to strangers. The challenge pulls these two teens, who have a history together from back home, closer and closer as they explore a vibrant city filled with other people’s stories and secrets.

Kendall and Max can’t deny their growing bond, even though they both have other romantic entanglements and uncertain futures. As the clock counts down on New Year’s Eve, will they find themselves together at midnight?


  1. This sounds like a book to add to my holiday season reads for 2018!


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