A Midsummer’s Nightmare

A Midsummer's NightmareReaders who enjoyed King of the Screwups by K.L. Going (Harcourt, 2009) will find a similar theme and characters in Kody Keplinger’s A Midsummer’s Nightmare, which features a female protagonist.  On her first night in Hamilton, Kentucky, recent Indiana high school graduate Whitley Johnson argues fashion choices with fashionista, Harrison Carlyle, who offers to be her best friend, but Whitley doesn’t “do” friends.  In her experience “friends turn on you, abandon you, and lie about you” (61).  Because Whitley sees friends as a waste of time, selfish and fake, she decides she’s better off being a loner, with tequila as a best friend to make her giggly and happy.

Before going off to college, Whitley had planned to spend her last summer bonding, drinking, and lounging in the sun with her dad, who over the years has been more brother and drinking buddy than parent figure.  But her dad—finally ready to accept the responsibilities of a family—is engaged to a woman with two teenage children, and Whitley finds herself an unwelcome interloper in her father’s house—“the puzzle piece that didn’t fit” (195).  To exacerbate the awkwardness of the arrangement, her soon to be stepbrother, Nathan Caufield, emerges as the one night stand from graduation night.  Prepared to play out the cruel summer, Whitley resorts to her Girls Gone Wild act, drinking to drown her depression and to find happiness.  Neglected by her summers-only father and her depressed and angry divorced mother, Whitley is starved for attention from the right people.

In small towns known for their big rumors, Whitley’s aloof attitude and loose morals make her the subject of a Facebook page where she is portrayed as a drunken whore.  Her famous television anchor dad doesn’t confront nor comfort Whitley during her humiliation and shame.  Whitley would have welcomed his anger, preferring it to the abandonment, which makes her feel like an untagged Facebook photo.  After allowing certain habits to define her life for the past four years, Whitley doesn’t know who she’d be without the parties or drinking or boys.  Drinking had made her happy, but with college looming on the horizon, she knows she can’t major in alcoholism.

Looking for a greedless kiss, looking for affirmation, acceptance, and unconditional love, and looking for family, Whitley has given up on people and happiness and anything good.  But Harrison and Nathan refuse to give up on her.

  • Posted by Donna

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