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Together at Midnight
by Jennifer Castle
Age Group/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication date: January 2nd, 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?
The basics in bullet points
- dual point of view, occasional chapters from the point of view of people they help out
- ADHD representation
- love triangle with four people, kind of? love square? love quadrangle?
- not just romance, also friendship and family
- open ending
Together at Midnight is a YA contemporary romance about two teens who take on a challenge to complete seven random acts of kindness before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s in New York City. The book takes place over the course of one week.
“Kindness isn’t objective, you know. One person’s kindness is another person’s intrusion.”
I’m awfully picky with my review books these days since I don’t read as much as I used to, but I decided to give this one a shot because the concept of ‘random acts of kindness’ is one of my favorite things. This book sort of felt like people-watching in a big city, but with, like, X-ray glasses that can’t see through clothes but can see through people’s minds, if you know what I mean.
After every act of kindness completed, there is a short chapter from the point of view of the person they helped, which I thought was a nice touch.
The main characters were nothing special. In fact, I found Kendall a bit annoying.
I do want to clarify: I think she’s annoying because she’s a teenager, and not because she has ADHD. I don’t know much about ADHD and I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t get a better idea of what it’s like. It’s refreshing to see a book with a mentally ill/neurodivergent character that isn’t primarily about the mental illness/neurodivergence, but I would have liked a bit more information.
Reading the scenes with the supporting characters (Camden and Ari) felt like reading Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss ‘series’. So I checked, and they have ‘their own book’, just like with Stephanie Perkins’ books.
The problem with this is that because I haven’t read What Happens Now, I don’t know these characters and therefore don’t care about them. I like the idea of seeing what your favorite characters from an author’s previous books are up to, but it doesn’t work in this one.
Jennifer Castle’s writing style is best described with the word ‘atmospheric’, as I truly felt like I was in New York City, running around with Max and Kendall, completing random acts of kindness. It’s not the best-written book, but it’s fun, and sometimes that’s exactly what we need.
“An older woman gets on, laden down with shopping bags. A guy wearing headphones gets up for her, offers her his seat. She nods once in a really businesslike manner, then sits. I know this gesture is part of an unwritten code of easy-peasy kindness, but still. There’s something simple and beautiful about it, like a reliable miracle.”
“You look like a cross between a superhero and the world’s tallest two-year-old boy.”
“You’re like the sister I always wished I had,” adds Andrew, taking a sip of his drink.
“But you do have a sister.”
You may enjoy this if you liked…
- Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
- Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
- Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
- The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon