Monday, March 17, 2008

Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick

Main Character: Sixteen-year-old Alex Gregory
Location: USA
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: YA Fiction

I had put off reading this book for a while--the cover really didn't appeal--but I'm trying to read all of the books on this year's Lone Star Reading List, so I finally picked it up. Alex Gregory is a 16-year-old boy trying to deal with his divorced parents. On the night his mother goes out on a date for the first time since their divorce, Alex decides to get drunk on the vodka his father left behind and then drive to his father's house and tell him what he thinks of him. It doesn't end well, but at least the only fatality was a lawn gnome decoration.

Alex is sentenced to 100 hours community service working at a nursing home and is basically assigned to talk to grouchy old Solomon Lewis. Mr. Lewis delights in playing practical jokes, and Alex winds up the butt of many of them. As you might expect, these two come to an understanding and then to a relationship in which both learn life lessons.

There are few surprises in this book, but I'm not complaining. In this sort of book, what's really important is not the plot so much as the characters and their relationships. Alex is a good kid--maybe not the smartest but he's got a heart. His relationship with Sol is not the only one that evolves through the story--so does his relationship with his parents, his best friend Laurie, and two jazz musicians from his school. Touching on serious topics but with a lot of humor, this was an enjoyable book.

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