Together At Midnight – Jennifer Castle – HarperTeen – Published 2 January 2018
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?
Together At Midnight is an inspiring YA novel – romantic, but also so much more about kindness, society, and being brave enough to step outside yourself to help others.
Kendall, just home from a year studying abroad, doesn’t want to resume her regular life, including returning to her old high school. So she flees to New York to stay with her brother and reconnect with an old friend-and unrequited crush-hoping that the past months talking online mean there is a chance for a romantic future. She doesn’t expect to run into Max, Jamie’s friend, and the guy who saw her breakdown over Jamie’s rejection last year. She certainly doesn’t expect to bond with him after witnessing a traumatic event. But as they traverse the streets of New York, working together on a dare to spread kindness and hopefully make up for their previous lack of action, there is no denying their growing connection.
Despite my initial beliefs about the title indicating that this book would cover just one night’s adventures, it actually occurs over the span of a week. There is something so delicious about reading about these two teens as they embark on an adventure of sharing kindness. Despite everything else happening in their lives, despite being unsure about their futures or shamed about their pasts, they connect in a really honest and beautiful way. The book conveys a wonderful message of connecting with others in a busy world, where it is sometimes too risky to interfere or check if someone is okay.
The romance really starts as both a crush and a deep friendship. While Kendall is crushing on Jamie, and has been for years, it is Max with whom she develops a true connection-a friendship. Despite there being two love interests, the book never really strays into love triangle territory as there is no real drama eventuating from the relationships.
The book is written from both Max and Kendall’s perspectives, in alternating chapters. But what really makes this book special are the short sections written from the perspectives of each of the people Max and Kendall stop to help. These little sections are so incredibly powerful and bring such depth to the story. They also challenge the reader to look beyond first expectations or assumptions.
Together At Midnight is a touching story of romance, connection, and community. A sweet and enjoyable read.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Romance, kindness, relationships, community, social issues, bystander effect, family.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Sexual references and references to sexual relationships. Coarse language, f*** (19), sh** (39), as***** (4), pi** (9), bi*** (4).
Published: 2 January 2018 by HarperTeen.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 352 pages.