Review: The Midnights by Sarah Nicole Smetana

The Midnights by Sarah Nicole Smetana
Release Date: March 6, 2018 
Publisher: HarperTeen 
Genre: YA Contemporary 
Source: ARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review 
Amazon | BN | Indiebound
This voice-driven coming-of-age YA novel is perfect for fans of Katie Cotugno and Playlist for the Dead.

Susannah Hayes has never been in the spotlight, but she dreams of following her father, a former rock star, onto the stage. As senior year begins, she's more interested in composing impressive chord progressions than college essays, certain that if she writes the perfect song, her father might finally look up from the past long enough to see her. But when he dies unexpectedly, her dreams--and her reality--shatter.

While Susannah struggles with grief, her mother uproots them to a new city. There, Susannah realizes she can reinvent herself however she wants: a confident singer-songwriter, member of a hip band, embraced by an effortlessly cool best friend. But Susannah is not the only one keeping secrets, and soon, harsh revelations threaten to unravel her life once again.

Set against the scintillating landscape of Southern California, The Midnights is an evocative coming-of-age debut about loss, creativity, and finding your voice while you're still finding yourself.


I've been dying to read The Midnights ever since I saw Rachel Lynn Solomon, author of the AMAZING You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone, raving about it on Goodreads. I figured if she'd loved it I'd probably love it as well, and as it turns out, I was one hundred percent correct (thankfully!).

The Midnights is not just good but great. Combing lyrical writing, a drool-worthy setting, and a thoughtful coming-of-age, The Midnights is a standout YA debut, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen's This Lullaby.

When the book first begins, Susannah is living a relatively normal life. She works at a coffee shop, has a crush on her guy best friend, and loves the midnight jam sessions her and her father have. Susannah is content with her life. She doesn't feel the need to ask for more, to work for more. She's not worried about college. She's just worried about coming up with the next great lyric. However, everything changes in the blink of an eye. Suddenly, her father- her idol, her rock -  is gone, and she's exiled to Orange, CA to live with a grandmother she didn't know she had and a mother she barely recognizes as the days go on.

I'll be honest: I didn't love Susannah at first. I didn't like how she treated her mother, or how selfish she could be when it came to putting her needs before others. Suffice to say it took me a long time to warm up to her; however, while I didn't always love her attitude and choices, there was something so incredibly compelling about her voice, something that made me keep reading, no matter the situation.  Over time, I began to understand Susannah more. I began to see her passion for music, why she was so willing to put it before everything else. It was her "thing" as well as her tie to her father, and I gave her dedication props. When Susannah moves to Orange, she has the opportunity to reinvent herself. Suddenly, she's in with the cool, elusive kids, the ones who drink, sneak into bars, and have midnight parties at the beach. Susannah slowly transforms, letting herself being influenced by people who shouldn't have say. I found this transformation to be interesting as well as realistic. I think it will resolve with anyone who's ever slowly changed a bits about themselves only to wonder later why they did it. By the end, I was happy I had accompanied Susannah on this journey. I was proud of who she had become and how she had transformed her life.

This book won't be for everyone. It's a slow novel, focusing on music, relationships, and grieving more than action and swoon-worthy romance. However, it worked for me, and for those like me who like novels that are character drive, I think it will work well. 

I appreciated the amount of time Sarah put into development here. First, she did an amazing job of developing the California setting. It was dreamy and evocative and fit perfectly with the feel of the book. I can't imagine this book being set any place but Orange. Second, Sarah did an amazing job of developing the relationships to be found here. Over the course of the book, Susannah begins to reevaluate her relationships. She begins to wonder what made her father so special to her, what made her so willing to overlook his flaws, and what she can do to be close to him even though he's gone. Her relationship with her mother is challenging. She has a lot of resentment towards her and she doesn't understand the majority of her decisions. Their relationship had many ups and downs, so many highs and lows, but there was something special to be found there. I also appreciated that there wasn't one guy. Instead, Susannah bounces from guy to guy over the course of the book, not because she can't decide on one, because each one feels perfect at the time. I found this to be realistic, because you don't always find the one in high school, and that's okay. Each relationship in a sense is just a building block in a sense.

The Midnights is a slow-burn, evocative novel. I look forward to reading more by Sarah in the future.

5 stars!!


  1. I love the cover for this one! Great review!

  2. The setting, the characters and their relationships sounds wonderful Lauren! I’m so glad you enjoyed, I think I would too. Great review!

  3. This sounds so good! I love when the setting is so well-developed you feel like you're there. I like the way this book seems to explore different types of relationships, too. Great review!

    1. Thanks, Angela! The relationships and setting here are something special.

  4. Susannah sounds like a great character, very well developed and complex. I also like that the book focuses so much on relationships. I hadn't heard of The Midnights before so thanks for putting it on my radar. Great review!

  5. I am a fan of character driven books, and I love to grieve and heal with my characters too. Plus, the promise of a swoon-worthy romance has me pretty excited. Great review!


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