A Midsummer's Nightmare is going on my favorites shelf. I read this heartfelt and authentic contemporary in one sitting, literally unable to put it down, and I felt the full spectrum of emotions while reading it. I laughed out loud. I cried (for real). This book holds a special place in my heart. Contemporary doesn't get any better than this.
Let me first focus on how relatable this plot was to me, because that is one of the things that really compelled me to keep reading until I was done in the middle of the night. My parents are divorced. It was not a friendly divorce. To this day my mother will still complain to me about my father, which makes my relationship with her strained at best. My father remarried, and though after the divorce the court decided I should live with my mother, I ended up pretty much running away from her in favor of my father. Divorce is a tricky subject, especially when it's a messy one. It messed me up pretty bad. And in A Midsummer's Nightmare it really messed up Whitley. But it was totally authentic. I knew everything she was going through. I knew how hard it was, having been through it myself. So that made this story extremely endearing to me.
This means that I loved the main character, Whitley. Not only did I love her authentic voice, but she had a pretty badass attitude as well. Though at the beginning she may come across a bit self-absorbed, she's clearly partying to escape and trying desperately to keep herself whole. I also related to how she shut herself off from having friends, after she'd been jilted by her old friends. But make no mistake, this is a character growth novel, and I absolutely loved it. As you continue reading, you keep peeling back layers of her personality and understand why she is the way she is. And she changes herself as well.
I also loved Nathan and the romance. Kody Keplinger is a master at creating romantic chemistry, guys, seriously. All the scenes that were even remotely romantic pretty much had me drooling. It was awesome. And Nathan is just an absolutely wonderful character: funny, nerdy, but hot and athletic, with a slightly mysterious past, and all around lovable. Though I wish that at some points he wouldn't have let his principles get in the way and just let the hotness happen... he was still awesome and the relationship was good the way it developed. I loved every second of it.
In this book, Whitley discovers what it means to be loved by family, which has been completely foreign to her since the divorce, friends, and, of course, Nathan. The friendship element also really touched my heart. Whitley befriends (begrudgingly at first) Harrison, a totally handsome yet gay guy living in Hamilton. He immediately wants to be friends with her - they just click, and throughout the book he's the best supporter she could have. It was absolutely beautiful.
What got to me most, however, was the relationship with her father. Because of the strained relationship with her mother, she put her father on a pedestal, but soon figures out there's things about him she didn't know. Long story short, and without spoilers, they have a confrontation scene and it totally made me cry. I don't cry during books. I can probably count the books I've cried during on one hand. And dammit is it hard to read with tears in your eyes! But it was beautiful and emotional and really hit the message home.
Kody Keplinger adds a second book of hers to my all-time favorites shelf. And make no mistake, if people were to ever ask me for contemporary recommendations, I would say Kody Keplinger first. With the authentic voices she gives her characters and her drool-worthy romance, she has become one of my favorite authors. A Midsummer's Nightmare was extremely relevant to me personally, and maybe not everyone will be as touched by it as I was, but either way, it's a great story with an awesome cast of characters and an important message. I loved every bit of it.
Everyone, especially readers with divorced parents.