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 instant it means something to you, it’s yours.”
I initially saw this book at my library and decided to pick it up for one main reason: the holidays! This year has really been my year of contemporaries, and I’ve read tons of summer contemporaries, but it’s December (well, almost) now, so I knew I had to read a wintery book! And this adorable story put me just in the right mood!
There was just so much happy wintry stuff that, not gonna lie, was probably the best part of this book. (Maybe. Idk.) It was set in New York on New Years, which, hello, my absolute dream, and there was lots of mentions of snowy days and snowdrifts and midnight kisses and it just made me a very happy reader.
Together at Midnight is a pretty simple, light contemporary. It’s Kendall and Max, who witness a terrible tragedy they did nothing to stop. To ease their guilt and just be better people all around, they decide to challenge themselves to random acts of kindness to complete over the next couple of days before New Years.
It’s the season of giving, and I thought this premise and message of now such simple acts that really take no effort on our parts like just being there to listen to someone can have such a great impact. It’s definitely perfect for the season this book is set in! There were also a few inserted chapters from the points of view of the characters who receive the acts of kindness, and it was something pretty sweet that I enjoyed.
Kendall is a high school senior who just returned home from a semester abroad and is struggling with not really liking the place where she’s in. And Max should be a college freshman, but he defered for a year–not the right choice for him personally–and is struggling with where he should be in his life at the moment. This was so relatable for me, and I could really empathize with the characters. I think people also in their last years of high school having a bit of a crisis about the whole world expecting you to know everything will really appreciate this one. And the ending! Was the best part! It was sort of like bittersweet, but also just perfect. I really did not expect it coming from such a light cheesy romance, but I thought it very realistic and even if it wasn’t a fairytale book “happy ending,” it was perfect.
I love the relationships Kendall and Max have with their respective friends and especially family too. Especially for Max, whose living with his hated grandpa, and starts learning that people are more complicated than they seem, and we should really listen. And Kendall is faced with a hard situation with her older brother and his boyfriend that really shows that perfect appearances don’t always make for perfect interiors.
What was probably the most annoying part of this book was the love triangle. This book was published a little under a year ago, 2018, and hello, didn’t we leave love triangles behind in 2014 or whatever? Why??? It was frustrating, but also the romance wasn’t the main reason I liked this book so it was kind of just whatever.
Overall, this book wasn’t too deep, or anything to make me fall desperately in love with it, but it was perfect for this holiday season and I highly recommend you pick it up and cozy up by the fire for a read!