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12 Jul 2013

Book Review - A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

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 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.

What Shut Out lacked in exploring the possible consequences of being sexually active, A Midsummer Night's Dream actually went in that direction.  Whitley is Keplinger's most controversial character.  I found her to be quite unlikeable but Keplinger was fine to make her face the results of her behaviour.  Still, I found the book to lack in certain places.

I know the author wants to show that all sexual behaviour and feelings are normal.  That teenagers should not feel like they're committing a horrible crime if they choose to have sex.  I do think as long as the teenagers are of age and being responsible, they should not be made to feel like they're doing something wrong.  But I feel Keplinger doesn't want to really push consequences on the characters who sleep around or don't use protection because she doesn't want to overall punish a person for the choices they make.  And that's where I think her sex positivity messages might get a little mixed.  I admire and congratulate her on being honest enough to portray all types of teenagers but I still think youths need to learn that sex isn't quite so casual and simple as it's made out to be.  It's a really big step and if you don't want to commit yourself in a relationship and want to have sex with multiple partners there will always be a result in real life. And while Whitley faces a consequence I felt it was wrapped up too neatly and not fully explored or developed.

Whitley uses guys for sex and sleeps around.  And as a result, later in the book, she is the target of slut shaming and almost gets herself into trouble.  I felt Keplinger really wanted us to stick up for this character but I couldn't exactly do this.  I can be quite harsh sometimes so when Whitley sees people treating her negatively I had to think 'good'.  She needed to learn that if she doesn't take herself and her relationships seriously, no-one else will.  She was a very silly and selfish character.  I'm not going to feel sorry for her because her behaviour has caused people to look at her in a certain light and she's upset by it. 

Whitley has a whole rollercoaster of issues.  The one night stand she has turns out to be the son of her dad's fiancee.  She feels her brother is too busy with his new family.  Her mother is self-absorbed in her new single life.  And her dad doesn't have much time for her anymore.

I felt the whole sudden new wife and family story was too much Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.  Not the most original plot.  The only difference was she was having feelings for her soon-to-be stepbrother.  While Nathan is by far the best Keplinger LI (he's geeky, he's friendly, he's nice and caring) I was really uncomfortable with the step brother and sister having feelings towards each other.  That's just my personal feeling.  I found it really awkward and icky.  I sorry, I can't help it.

I found the worst parent was in fact the dad who had treated both the mother and his daughter horribly.  Yet everything was wrapped up nicely with Whitley and her father.  She forgave him for everything he had done.  The mother... who was clearly suffering from being treated like crap to be honest by the father was still hated in Whitley's eyes.  She didn't care for her mother and hinted that it would be a struggle to save their relationship.  I didn't get at all how the mother was the problem parent and thought it was unfair for Whitley to still be hostile towards her.  I wasn't quite sure if that was generally Whitley's character, even though she had quickly altered her other faults, or if Keplinger disliked the mother herself.

For a character as damaged as Whitley I was surprised to see everything get sorted out in the end.  There were a lot of issues there and so much to fix that the changes she suddenly made didn't felt realistic.

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