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Be Kind, Rewind

Kendall and Max accept a dare to perform random acts of kindness in Jennifer Castle's Together at Midnight.

Be Kind, Rewind

BOOK REPORT for Together at Midnight by Jennifer Castle

Cover Story: Montell Jordan
BFF Charm: Yay x 2
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: He Said, She Said, Everybody Said
Bonus Factor: New York City, Blizzards, Kickass Gramps
Relationship Status: What're You Doing New Year's Eve?

Cover Story: Montell Jordan

This is how we do it, y'all! I love the sweet simplicity of this cover. The illustration even includes Kendall's red coat and blue hat! There's something quiet about this cover, which is fitting, because there's something quiet about the book too.

The Deal:

It's the day after Christmas, and fresh off a semester in Europe, Kendall isn't ready to face high school just yet, so she sneaks away to NYC to spend the week with her older brother and his boyfriend. Max has been drifting through his gap year before starting college, with no plans, a crappy job, and a foreboding sense that he made a mistake when he postponed going to Brown. To make matters worse, Max's curmudgeon grandfather, Big E, needs a new home aide, and Max's aunt and mother have volunteered him for the job until they can find a suitable replacement.

Kendall and Max both feel like they're floating through life, unsure of their next steps, when they witness a tragic accident. Racked with guilt that neither of them stepped forward to help, the pair make a pact to perform seven random acts of kindness (RAOK) for seven strangers before midnight on New Year's Eve. But they quickly discover that being kind isn't always easy - or welcomed.

BFF Charm: Yay x 2

To quote YA God Marcus Flutie, Kendall and Max are perfect in their imperfection. Kendall was adorable, funny and fun, yet still insecure about her ADHD - or as she likes to call it, "Thought Worms." Thought Worms constantly interrupted her train of thought, which meant she struggled in school despite being a smart girl. It's why she just spent a semester at an alternative learning school in Europe, and also why she dreads going back to school in January. I loved how game she was to accept the RAOK dare, even when being kind proved more difficult than she expected.

Max is a helicopter dad. He literally postponed going to college because he was worried about his EX-girlfriend's home life. He cares about other people so deeply, but he's also willing to use other people as an excuse to avoid his own problems. I just wanted to hug him the whole time, and I was so glad he found Kendall - a person who refused to let him be a doormat any longer.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Kendall's got a mad crush on this guy named Jamie, and even though he broke her heart last summer, they started texting each other photos while she was in Europe. Now that she's home, Kendall is R-E-A-D-Y to get this thing with Jamie going. So Jamie texts his good buddy Max and asks if he can stay with him while he pours his flirt sauce all over town/Kendall. This is how Kendall, Jamie and Max end up all together when they witness The Tragic Incident. Unlike Kendall and Max, Jamie can't deal and heads home immediately, leaving the two to figure out their feelings about the accident, and each other, together.

But of course it's more complicated than that! Max's relationship with his ex-girlfriend Eliza is messy, to put it nicely. Toxic, to put it bluntly. And last summer when Jamie broke Kendall's heart? It was Max who was there to comfort her...with his lips. So there's history between these two, which adds a little fuel to the swoon fire. Plus, Kendall is an adorable and quirky redhead, and Max is 6'3" - everyone knows boys just get swoonier the higher up there they are.

Talky Talk: He Said, She Said, Everybody Said

Not only does Together at Midnight alternate between Max and Kendall's perspectives, whenever the two perform a random act of kindness for a stranger, we also get a chapter from that stranger's POV. I LOVED those chapters, because you never know what a person is going through. Sometimes, the RAOK was welcomed, sometimes it wasn't. When a person would be rude to Kendall and Max, your first instinct is to villify them, but getting a snippet of their story was so eye opening. Castle's writing is what I'd otherwise classify as Straight Up, and this book is a standalone contemporary that can be devoured in a day (guilty!), but getting to read those other perspectives is what truly set this book apart for me.

Bonus Factor: New York City

I love a good New York City setting. I think it's because I'm a product of the 1990s/early aughts rom-com generation, and 9 out of 10 great rom-coms were set in NYC. #BringBacktheNYCRomCom

Bonus Factor: Blizzards

This book begins the day after Christmas and ends on New Year's Eve, which, hello, is right now! I'm a firm believer that this is one of the best weeks of the year for its quietness and stillness. We're all a little confused about the day of the week, no one works very hard, and everyone's on cruise control until the new year. But add to this: a BLIZZARD. Yup, our heroes find themselves snowed in at Big E's Park Avenue apartment during a blizzard. Is that not some seriously cute and cozy shit? Is that not every girl's fantasy? To find herself snowed in with a cute boy...and only one blanket? (Okay, okay, Max had multiple blankets, but we're talking fantasy situations here.)

Bonus Factor: Kickass Gramps

Yeah, Big E is a curmudgeon, but he's a cute curmudgeon, and maybe he's only grumpy because people have been treating him like he's on his way out ever since his wife died. He just wants someone to banter with, and he finds that in Kendall.

Relationship Status: What're You Doing New Year's Eve?

Maybe it's much too early in the game, oh but I thought I'd ask you just the same, book. What're you doing New Year's? New Year's Eve? Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight, when it's exactly twelve o'clock at night - no, I don't have to wonder. Because it's me. I'll be holding you good and tight when the clock strikes twelve, so pucker up, baby!

FTC Full Disclosure: I did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the lame cranberry ones) for writing this review. Together at Midnight will be available January 2, 2018.

Rosemary Hallmark's photo About the Author: Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her cute husband and even cuter dog. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. (She's still got a soft spot for the swoony, contemporary stuff.) A former magazine editor, she is now a freelance writer, graphic designer, art director and photo stylist. The rest of her time is spent drinking cocktails, renovating her house and laughing at her husband's ridiculous Pretty Little Liars theories.
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