Early Review: RAYNE & DELILAH’S MIDNITE MATINEE by Jeff Zentner

Early Review:  RAYNE & DELILAH’S MIDNITE MATINEE by Jeff ZentnerRayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner
four-half-stars
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on February 26, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

RAYNE & DELILAH’S MIDNITE MATINEE review

 

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee is my first time reading a Jeff Zentner novel, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going in.  What I got was pretty much everything I love about contemporary novels all rolled into one fabulous book.  It’s a story about friendship and family, first loves, taking risks and following your dreams, and it’s also a story about goodbyes.  It also features a hilarious Saturday night public access TV show that features horrible horror flicks, and it takes us on a road trip to a horror fan convention.

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee is equal parts hilarious and heartfelt, and I was there for every minute of it.

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee features two main characters, Delia and Josie, both of whom I found to be very likeable and the situations they found themselves in easy to relate to.  They are both high school seniors who are making plans for the future and wondering how those future plans are going to impact their friendship.  Josie wants a career on television and while she’s currently starring on a public access TV show with Delia, her opportunity to follow her dreams would be much greater if she moved away from their town and attended one of the bigger universities, one of which has an internship at the Food Network with her name all over it.  Josie is very conflicted about what to do, not just because she hates the idea of leaving Delia behind, but also because she has just met a new guy named Lawson that she has quickly grown very attached to, and going away to school would mean leaving him as well.

Delia’s plans for the future are less academic-based and more focused on her personal life and something that she needs to resolve once and for all for the sake of her mental health.  Her father abandoned her and her mom years ago, just up and disappeared and hasn’t been heard from since.  Between him leaving and now possibly Josie following suit, Delia is struggling emotionally with the idea that she is always being left behind.  She knows it’s not fair to think that in Josie’s case, but her father walking out had just been such a weight on her shoulders for so many years that it colors everything else in her life, even her TV show.  She really wants to track him down and confront him because she needs answers if she’s ever going to move on.

I loved both of these girls, and even Josie’s boyfriend Lawson, who is just super adorable in every way.  I thought Zentner did an incredible job of really getting inside of both Delia and Josie’s heads to give us so much insight on what they’re thinking and feeling as they’re trying to plan their futures without losing their friendship. The friendship between Josie and Delilah is written so beautifully. It feels so authentic and takes me back to when I was graduating from both high school and college and had to say goodbye to friends I had grown to love and those fears that we would drift apart if we didn’t see each other every day. It makes me shed a tear just thinking about how relatable this aspect of the story was.

Speaking of tears though, there were also many tears of joy shed.  In addition to the emotional journeys that both Delia and Josie take us on, there’s also a tremendous amount of humor in the book, especially as it relates to Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee, the public access TV show that Delia and Josie co-host.   All I could think while I was reading was that I need this TV show in my life.  For the show, the girls play horror hosts Rayne Ravencroft and Delilah Darkwood, dress up as vampires and do quirky comedic skits (a la Elvira, Mistress of the Dark for those who are old enough to remember her).  Their guest stars include their own pets, as well a group of boys who dress up in skeleton costumes and dance around like fools in the background.  As if those antics weren’t enough, they aren’t even the main event.  The main event each week is basically the worst, cheesiest horror flick you’ve ever seen.  Think Mystery Science Theater 3000 except with horror movies instead of cheesy old sci fi.  The whole concept for the show, and Delia and Josie working with their grumpy old tech guy Arliss, had me in stitches every time they went to prep an episode of their show.

While I thought it was sweet that Delia and Josie were often mistaken for sisters because their personalities and sense of humor were so similar, I also thought the similarity in voice made it a little challenging at first to keep the girls straight in my head.  I had to keep flipping back to the first page of each chapter to remember whose perspective I was reading.  Once each character’s journey became more defined, however, I settled in and was more easily able to keep track of who was who.  As you can see from my rating, it didn’t keep me from loving the book in any way but I figured I should mention it just to be 100% honest here.

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee was a delightful read from beginning to end.  I’d highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys humorous, heartfelt reads that focus on family, friendship, and following your dreams.

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

A contemporary novel about two best friends who must make tough decisions about their futures–and the TV show they host–in their senior year of high school.

Every Friday night, best friends Delia and Josie become Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, hosts of the campy creature feature show Midnite Matinee on the local cable station TV Six.

But with the end of senior year quickly approaching, the girls face tough decisions about their futures. Josie has been dreading graduation, as she tries to decide whether to leave for a big university and chase her dream career in mainstream TV. And Lawson, one of the show’s guest performers, a talented MMA fighter with weaknesses for pancakes, fantasy novels, and Josie, is making her tough decision even harder.

Scary movies are the last connection Delia has to her dad, who abandoned the family years ago. If Midnite Matinee becomes a hit, maybe he’ll see it and want to be a part of her life again. And maybe Josie will stay with the show instead of leaving her behind, too.

As the tug-of-war between growing up and growing apart tests the bonds of their friendship, Josie and Delia start to realize that an uncertain future can be both monstrous…and momentous.

four-half-stars

About Jeff Zentner

Jeff Zentner lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.

Now he writes novels for young adults. He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.

He speaks fluent Portuguese, having lived in the Amazon region of Brazil for two years.

Rockstar Book Tours: Dear Martin Review & Giveaway

Rockstar Book Tours:  Dear Martin Review & GiveawayDear Martin by Nic Stone
four-half-stars
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on October 17th 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 224
Source: a Blog Giveaway
Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from a Blog Giveaway in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is my stop on the RockStar Blog Tour for Nic Stone’s powerful new novel, Dear Martin.  Please check out my review and then be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway for your chance to win a finished copy of DEAR MARTIN.  Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out the other stops on the Dear Martin Blog Tour!

MY REVIEW:

Dear Martin is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful and most important books I’ve read this year.  It follows the story of high school student Justyce Mcallister.  Through Justyce’s eyes, readers see firsthand what it’s like to be a young black man in America.  We experience the fear and the frustration of constantly having to worry about being singled out by police, or even shot and killed, because of the color of your skin, the clothes that you’re wearing, or perhaps even the type of music that you’re listening to and how loud you have that music turned up.

Justyce has worked hard all his life in order to secure the best future possible for himself.  He thinks everything is going his way too until one fateful night when he is stopped by a police officer and immediately placed in handcuffs.  It doesn’t matter that Justyce is an “A” student and that he has been accepted to an Ivy League university; the police officer just automatically assumes that Justyce is up to no good.

The racial profiling is blatant and it makes Justyce all the more sensitive to the racism that goes on around him every day.  When he returns to school, for example, one of his white classmates (and someone he thought was a friend) implies that the only reason Justyce got into an Ivy League school was because of his race and Affirmative Action.  Not only does the student accuse Justyce of not having truly earned his spot at the university, but the implication is that Justyce stole the white student’s spot as well.

Justyce is not only frustrated by these comments but also by comments from those he grew up with who accuse of him forgetting his roots and selling out because he moved out of their rough and poor neighborhood to go to a better school.

When the unthinkable happens and someone near to him is killed in an incident involving a white off-duty police officer, Justyce is left feeling caught between two worlds and alone.

Armed with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, (the “Dear Martin” of the title), Justyce takes us on what is ultimately a journey of self-discovery.  His story is raw, gritty, and poignant, but it is still ultimately a hopeful one.

 

Justyce of course was my favorite part of Dear Martin.  He is not only an extremely likable character, but he is also a much needed voice in YA literature.  There aren’t nearly enough books out there with young male protagonists, and especially persons of color.  Nic Stone makes Justyce give a voice to every other young man who has experienced similar kinds of prejudice and/or who has been racially profiled..

Justyce is also a great character because he is so complex and well-developed.  The journey that we go on with him is so poignant, especially experiencing the wide range of emotions he goes through – the initial almost disbelief that such blatant racism still exists, the mounting frustration as he realizes it’s all around him, and the questions that run through is mind about how to deal with it.  Nic Stone does a beautiful job of fleshing out this character from every angle.

I also liked that Dear Martin packed such a huge punch with so few words.  It’s only about 200 or so pages long, which would make it ideal for Required Reading at schools (hint, hint!), and it’s 200 of the most powerful and relevant pages I’ve read this year.  It’s fast-paced and filled with plenty of action and riveting dialogue that I think would keep even the most reluctant reader engaged.

The Dear Martin letters that Justyce was writing throughout the story were another highlight for me.  I loved the balance between those letters and the rest of the action of the story.  The letters Justyce wrote were so reflective and conveyed every emotion he was feeling as he tried to process everything that was confronting him.  They also powerfully illustrated how badly he wanted guidance to know how to survive in such a racist world “What Would Martin Do?”, along with his questions about whether or not the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were still relevant today.

 

I have to admit that at first I was a little down on the romantic relationship in Dear Martin.  (Yes, my usual lament that not every YA contemporary needs to have romance.)  In the case of Dear Martin, while I liked the relationship itself and thought the couple was a great match, I just felt like it was a little distracting from the main themes of the story.  But then Nic Stone did something that changed my mind — she took what was seemingly a distraction and, through a conversation between Justyce and his mother, ended up tying it right back to one of her novel’s most important messages — that no one, white, black, or any other color, should be judged based on the color of their skin.  Taking what could have been a potential distraction and linking to one of the central points of the story made the romance work much better for me than I thought it was going to.

 

Dear Martin is a book that everyone should read.  I really wish this book had been around back when I was teaching high school because I just know Justyce’s story would have resonated with so many of my students.  It not only powerfully tackles important social issues such as racism, racial profiling, and police brutality, but Nic Stone has also delivered a beautifully written story with a captivating and complex main character that you’ll fall in love with.  I look forward to reading more from her and just can’t recommend Dear Martin highly enough.

 

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.

Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.

 

 

PURCHASE LINKS:

AmazonAudibleB&NiBooksTBDGoodreads

 

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of DEAR MARTIN, US Only.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

DEAR MARTIN TOUR SCHEDULE:

 

Week One:

10/16/2017- LILbooKlovers Interview

10/17/2017- YA Bibliophile– Review

10/18/2017- Mama Reads Blog– Guest Post

10/19/2017- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

10/20/2017- Eli to the nth– Excerpt

Week Two:

10/23/2017- Chasing Faerytales– Review

10/24/2017- Omg Books and More Books– Interview

10/25/2017- BookHounds YA– Review

10/26/2017- Novel Novice– Guest Post

10/27/2017- The Bookish Libra– Review

Week Three:

10/30/2017- Never Too Many To Read– Review

10/31/2017- Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook Interview

11/1/2017- Reese’s Reviews– Excerpt

11/2/2017- Novel Ink– Review

11/3/2017- Wandering Bark Books– Guest Post

Week Four:

11/6/2017- Amanda Gernentz Hanson– Review

11/7/2017- Lisa Loves Literature– Excerpt

11/8/2017- Feed Your Fiction Addiction– Review

11/9/2017- Lost in Ever After– Interview

11/10/2017- A Backwards Story– Review

 

 

four-half-stars

About Nic Stone

Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.

You can find her goofing off and/or fangirling over her husband and sons on most social media platforms as @getnicced.