Monday, July 2, 2012
Review: Notes from the Midnight Driver
By Jordan Sonnenblick, read by Peter Berkrot
Published 2011 by Brilliance Audio
Alex Gregory is just your typical high-schooler. He just happened to make a not-so-typical mistake: he got drunk on his mom's supply of alcohol and tried to drive to his dad's house to confront him for divorcing his mom, but instead only managed to crash the car into his neighbor's hideous lawn gnome. Now Alex is repaying his debt to society by "volunteering" at the nursing home where his mom works. And it's here that Alex will really learn how to be a man, from grumpy old Sol Lewis.
I feel like Sonnenblick is a hidden treasure. I'm not entirely sure why I feel this way. I guess I'm under the impression that not many people read his books - in fact, a kid came into the library asking for funny books in the YA section and he specifically asked for books like Sonnenblick's. And I was beyond excited that this teenager name-dropped Sonnenblick because I think everyone should be reading him. His books are hilarious and heartbreaking, everything you could ask for in a contemporary YA novel. The characters in this book are so beautifully real and complex - I mean, I want to be friends with Alex. In fact, if I was a teenage girl, I'd probably want to date him. Sonnenblick does a very welcome thing by making his characters (usually he features male protagonists) typically male, but also making them realistically in tune with their emotions. Though not many guys will necessarily admit it, I believe they are obsessing over the same things as women, wondering and worrying about how to live right. And Sonnenblick's characters do this, but not in any melodramatic or soppy way. They just breathe right off the page. Every book of his that I read, I just fall more in love with. I truly believe he is a great author, writing stories that kids want to read where they can also see themselves and their struggles mirrored. I love the secondary characters as well - Sol is, perhaps, slightly stereotypical, but also complex and lovable. And Laurie - what a firecracker! I want to just gush about this book and say nothing that makes sense because you just need to read it to get it. The audiobook was just as satisfying an experience as reading a print version - well-voiced and nuanced. And I loved that Steven and Annette made an appearance! Please read this!