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The Midnights by Sarah Nicole Smetana
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A thoughtful, stunning and beautifully-written novel, THE MIDNIGHTS by Sarah Nicole Smetana will leave you lost in the music of life as it follows one young girl’s journey of self-discovery as she explores the complexities of loss, grief, secrets, love, friends and family.

Seventeen-year-old Susannah Hayes lives quite a normal and content life experiencing common teenage things such as having a first job and crush as well as having a big dream --- to become a musician. All she wants to do is compose music and follow in the footsteps of her distant former rock star father, but all her dreams and reality seem to shatter when he dies unexpectedly.

Struggling with grief after experiencing a monumental loss, her mother decides to uproot them from their LA home to a new town in Orange County, hoping for a fresh new start. Seeing this as an opportunity, Susannah realizes that she can reinvent herself however she wants because with a new beginning you can be anything that you want to be --- or so she thought, until forgotten and harsh secrets threaten to unravel upon her life once again.

This is one of the most beautiful YA books that I have ever read. Immediately, when I heard about the premise of the book I knew I was going to find myself completely absorbed and might I say, there were many times I was fully lost into the story. I savored and enjoyed every word for Smetana's heartfelt storytelling and masterful plot is effortlessly captivating. It is the kind of coming-of-age story that definitely settles into one’s heart and doesn’t let go but instead pulls one in tighter.

I've never read a novel that captures such a lush, raw and alive Southern California nature and atmosphere. Smetana's gorgeous writing paints a vivid picture of a dreamy setting that is truly exquisite. The novel sure pays subtle tribute to keeping the “SoCal Sound” as well as allowing for one to feel the scintillating external and internal landscape that Susannah navigates.

Susannah was a riveting character who I related to from the moment she was introduced. As a person who really connects and has a strong passion with music, anytime she talked about playing or writing music, I was completely engrossed. It was as if I felt a sense of understanding for her because all she wanted was to make music and prove to her father that she was worth his attention. Also, I really liked as the reader, that we were able to not only see her grow and learn as a person but also who she was musically. I think because of how deeply I identified with Susannah, it definitely made the novel more memorable for me.

While I adored Susannah's character, I was also deeply intrigued by her family and those whom she encountered. This story is mainly focused on Susannah's journey and discovery process, but at the same time, she also finds new sides to her own family that she wasn’t told about. She not only discovers who she wants to be, but she also re-discovers her own family, including learning more about her father. I thought her relationship with her mother was absolutely fantastic as it explored the many different correlations between mother and daughter in their life realizations as well as in the way that their relationship drastically changes after the death of a loved one. I really appreciated how there were a lot of different bonds and themes present and how the author explored each one and managed to intertwine them. There was not only just a family and friend bond but also the bond that she shared with her father over music. All the characters were flawed in such a gorgeously and realistic manner, that it made it very easy to come to enjoy following and connecting with them.

I promise that you will find something that you love and enjoy in this atmospheric voyage. THE MIDNIGHTS is an absolute must read and is perfect for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.

Reviewed by Laina Q., Teen Board Member

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
Finished Reading
May 30, 2018 – Shelved

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