Review of Together at Midnight

Together at Midnight

Jennifer Castle

  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen 
  • Publication Date: January 2, 2018
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B06Y5JZRTX

Blurb:

Combining the emotional deftness of Sarah Dessen with the magical spark of New York City in wintertime, this affecting novel will inspire readers to pay closer attention to the world around them.

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?

Jennifer Castle’s latest novel is a romantic, thought-provoking tale of human connection and how we find—and make—our place in the world.


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SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW

After nearly two years of book blogging, I have learned a few things along the way. One of the most important is to stick with a book even if something at the beginning doesn’t work for you. In the case of Jennifer Castle’s Together at Midnight, my initial impression of Kendall was that she was a spoiled brat and the thought of reading about her for the entire book made me feel definitely “meh.” But I stuck with it.

And it’s that initial impression that I thought about when I finished Together at Midnight because I would ultimately have missed a lovely story about two young adults finding out who they are after a horrific event sends them on carrying out random acts of kindness in the hustle of New York City in the days after Christmas.

Kendall and Max work so well together, each different as per their insights and the characteristics they offer each other. Much in contrast to my initial impression, I came away really liking Kendall.

Jennifer Castle slowly reveals these characters so that the reader comes to understand them bit by bit. At first this felt a bit choppy to me, but as I read on I appreciated it more. I felt that the reader not only comes to understand these characters more but they also understand each other and themselves more.

Another aspect of Together at Midnight I liked was the fact that there were no “bad” guys in this novels. Everyone is gray with all kinds of layers to their characters. I always appreciate when an author goes to the trouble to layer all of the characters, even the ones that you think might be unlikable.

While most of the narrative is first person with alternating section between Kendall and Max, there are other first person narratives from the people they meet or come into contact with. Again, I felt this was initially intrusive, but found myself liking the narratives more and more as it allowed the reader to understand more even if the main characters never understood the motivations of the people around them–which is how life is, really.

One final thing. If you like young adult novels and still feel the magic of the New Year’s, give Together at Midnight a try. It has a feel good ending that will stick with you and make you warm and thoughtful, even if the temperature outside your door is currently 20°F and falling.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Together at Midnight from Amazon.


rating: 4-and-a-half

4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies


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Jennifer Castle is the author of ten books for children and teens. Her YA novels published by HarperCollins include The Beginning of After, which was an American Library Association Best Fiction for Young Adults selection, You Look Different in Real Life, What Happens Now, and the upcoming Together at Midnight. Her four-book middle grade fantasy series Butterfly Wishes is due out from Bloomsbury USA in December. She’s also the co-author of two non-fiction books, Friends and Frenemies: The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward and Famous Friends: Best Buds, Rocky Relationships, and Awesomely Odd Couples from Past to Present.

Jennifer received her B.A. in Creative Writing from Brown University and worked as a freelance copywriter, celebrity publicist’s assistant, and a screenwriter before finding her niche producing interactive media for young people. She created and produced “It’s My Life,” the award-winning PBS Kids website for tweens (pbskids.org/itsmylife). She has also produced children’s educational projects for Steven Spielberg’s Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, McGraw-Hill Publishing, and WNET-13.

When not dreaming up her own stories, Jennifer teaches fiction writing to young people in schools and private workshops. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, Bill, her daughters Sadie and Clea, and her tabby cats/writing assistants Angel and Squash.

Visit her website here.

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