Together at Midnight by Jennifer Castle
The more I look at this cover, the more I like it. It's simple, but manages to encaspulate everything you need to know about these two teens and New York City. Kendall and Max have a bit of history before they meet again, the week after Christmas. They shared a brief make-out session last year but haven’t spoken since. Kendall is in the city to get away from her old life, even though she hasn’t been really living it since the fall. She’s spent the fall in Europe, at a school better suited for her learning needs, which is ADHD, and she’s not quite ready to slip back into the reality of her old school and friends. Max is in NYC staying with his cranky but lovable grandfather, whose butt has been cemented in his armchair since his wife died. Max should be in his first year of college, but his enabling of his ex-girlfriend and the need to watch out for her trumped his education. He’s been making excuses as to why he didn’t go, but the reality is apparent. The two come together again when Max’s friend Jamie asks to stay with him so he can meet Kendall for the day. They’ve been texting for a while, and now that they’re both in the same country, things are looking good. Max tags along and after some initial awkwardness, Jamie has no idea of the kissing, the three have a good time. Until they witness a tragic accident that could have been prevented. The good time ended, Jamie bails on them leaving the two to digest what just happened. They decide on a kindness pact. Each will do random acts of kindness (with proof), and they will meet up again on NYE. Kendall and Max soon learn that handing out kindness to strangers is harder than it looks but they don’t give up. After each act, the story’s point of view is that of the recipient, lending a fresh perspective into each situation. Although they didn’t plan it, Kendall and Max end up spending more time together, and it causes old feelings to emerge. There is a love triangle happening here, but it smooths itself out by the end, not without some ruffling of feathers. This foray into kindness has opened up their eyes to new things, but their old problems still exist. Neither wants to move forward, but by the end of the story, they’ve had some gentle nudging. A bittersweet but realistic ending adds credibility to the characters. Loved hearing from everyone, especially Max’s grandfather. He might not smile, but he rocks. Bonus points for a quick read- super fast audio for me- and writing a story with some substance. My only regret is not being in NYC during Christmas while I read it. Oh well, a girl can dream, right?