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.
(Summary from GoodReads)
I had no idea what to expect going into Keplinger’s A Midsummer’s Nightmare. I loved The DUFF and only liked Shut Out, and I didn’t care for the cover of this book. A Midsummer’s Nightmare is an honest take on slut-shaming with a compelling storyline, and one of my most enjoyable reads of the summer.
Whitley should be unlikable. She’s selfish, parties too hard, and doesn’t think too carefully about her decisions. Her family is being torn apart by a divorce and she doesn’t have a lot of close friends at her high school. Whiltey is an incredibly honest character and I loved that about her.
While Whitley has a hard time with her family in this book, the summary hardly begins to scratch the surface. Her behavior makes life with her father particularly awkward. The emotions I had regarding the family are a strong indicator of how well they were drawn. I especially liked the fact that both the family dynamic and story all felt like something that could happen in real life. Keplinger added two great side characters as well: one was tons of fun to read about and the other helped Keplinger’s story pack a punch without being preachy.
As for the slut-shaming, Keplinger’s story is both incredibly real and scary. Whitley experiences stuff that happens to girls everywhere everyday, which is why it’s so terrifying. It worked because this book didn’t read like it was written with an agenda. It never screamed, “SLUT-SHAMING IS BAD AND YOU SHOULDN’T DO IT AND IF THAPPENS TO YOU IT’S REALLY BAD.” Keplinger showed me that instead of telling it through her strong characterization and plotting. I think the story would have felt incomplete without a hint of a message, but overdone if the message had been too heavy. As the story was, it was complete.
A Midsummer’s Nightmare was a wholly enjoyable read. I think it an The DUFF are on a level playing field, because The DUFF was such a fantastic debut. Keplinger’s third novel is one that plenty of older teens will read and appreciate.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.