Whitley Johnson has had a tough time of things since her parents’ messy divorce. She only sees her dad now once a year and her mom has simply checked out while Whitley’s partying ways get out of control. Whitley has a one-night stand at a party after her high school graduation, right before she leaves to spend her last summer before college with her dad. But her dad surprises her by introducing her to his fiancée and step-children-to-be, including the boy she hooked up with the night before. Not the carefree summer Whitley was planning at all.
I really liked Kody Keplinger’s debut The Duff, and now with A Midsummer’s Nightmare she has done it again. I remember thinking her realistic contemporary style reminded me of Judy Blume’s books. She has created a niche for herself by not shying away from touchy subjects like promiscuity and underage drinking. Her characters come across as honest and authentic, and dealing with relevant issues.
Whitley puts on a tough exterior and makes some terrible decisions. The divorce has left her with emotional scars that she self-medicates with alcohol. It’s hard to warm up to her at first because of the walls she has built around her. And especially when her bad decisions hurt the people around her. But, there is context for her actions, and the behavior of her parents explains a lot about how Whitley has turned out. Even though she is hard to like I found myself rooting for her to get herself together.
Though Whitley faces challenges from both of her parents’ abhorrent behavior, she finds support from her dad’s new insta-family. Thirteen-year-old Bailey looks up to Whitley and is a ray of sunshine in her life. And Nathan is sweet, supportive and nerdy, and helps Whitley find her way.
There are some surprise guest appearances for fans of The Duff. Harrison plays a big supporting role, and Wesley and Bianca also make appearances. Seeing them pop up made me want to read The Duff again.
A Midsummer’s Nightmare is a good summer read and one I had a hard time putting down. The emotional connection was there, along with character growth and a satisfying story. Keplinger’s writing impressed me even more with this book and I look forward to catching up with Shut Out and her next books.
A Midsummer’s Nightmare is available now and I bought my copy from Amazon.