Title: Midnight Chat
Author: Jo Ramsey
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Length: 180 Pages
Category: Teen Fiction, Contemporary
At a Glance: While there are some aspects of this story that could have been better conveyed, if seventeen-year-old-me had read it, I think that it would have been a good insight into others dealing with a friend who has mental health issues.
Reviewed By: Courtney Ellen
Blurb: Mira MacDonald, a proud lesbian, and Rob Stevens, gay but in the closet, don’t have it easy at their high school. Luckily, they’ve always had each other and their close friendship to rely on, and it makes facing the bullies a little easier. At least for Mira. Rob is also struggling with untreated depression, and lately, Mira’s sweet and funny friend has become increasingly paranoid, suspicious, and obsessed with death.
Things go even further downhill when Mira begins dating Talia Acevedo and Rob becomes convinced Talia is driving a wedge between them. Mira knows Rob needs her, but his jealousy and irrational fears are becoming harder to balance with her relationship with her girlfriend. Add to that escalating harassment from bullies, and Rob is being driven closer and closer to an edge Mira worries she can’t pull him back from.
But she has no idea how serious the situation is until, during one of their midnight chats, Rob reveals he has a solution—a desperate final measure to put an end to the bullying… permanently. This time, trying to help her friend and save the school could cost Mira her life.
Review: This is an infuriating book because it does a great job of creating a very life-like narrative of teenagers—which, as an adult, seems non-sensical and repetitious—but in hindsight was very similar to personal experiences. As someone who still works with teenagers and the age group of the primary protagonists, the rationale provided by the characters is very realistic, and I applaud Jo Ramsey for meeting that key element. This realism makes the characters unlikeable to me as an adult, but realistic in that I struggle with understanding some of the mindset behind juvenile behavior. It is very much a story for teenagers who are likely to find some comfort in the familiarity of friend/peer actions.
Mira serves as the primary narrator, with Rob’s journal entries creating additional insight. It is Mira’s identification as lesbian that links her to Rob, who identifies as gay. Mira has a girlfriend, but outside of this element, the focus is on the bullying that is endured by both for their labels, with less emphasis on relationship development. Rob, as a character, has a far greater emphasis on his depression and bullying, which, even if the characters had been heterosexual, the plot would have remained very similar. It is Rob’s journals that do a great job of highlighting the irrationality that comes with depression and/or anxiety. They are irrational, but not so irrational that they are over the top; they are the musing of someone who really is spiraling with his emotions. I was excited to see Ramsey offset this irrational element of Rob through Mira’s father, who plays a solid role in reflecting critically, yet rightfully so, on the emotions of someone who may dealing with a mental illness.
In rating the book, I’ve teetered back and forth between 3 and 4 stars; the main dilemma I have is whether it is the book itself or the characters and my own personal reactions to their behaviors, which again, is very familiar. However, I do feel that the descriptors used and some of the repetitiveness of incidents could have been conveyed stronger. There is also the aspect where I feel the resolution could have been a bit stronger, with some additional follow-through on relationships and what happened. Yet, for all of these things, I’m an adult who is reading and reviewing this book whereas, if seventeen-year-old-me had read it, I think that it would have been a good insight into others dealing with a friend who has mental health issues.
You can buy Midnight Chat here:
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