“There’s something about witnessing something holy with someone you love, because you take that sacred thing and weave it, like a golden thread, into the fabric of your togetherness.”
Oh, friends! I feel so torn on this one. I do want to start this review off by saying that my dear friend Julie sent this to me, and a few of our other friends, as a traveling book so we could all record our thoughts and feelings with annotations! And, luckily for me, I was the last person to get the book, so I really loved being able to experience the story for myself, but to also see how my friends felt throughout their reading process, too!
But this is the very first book from Jeff Zentner that I’ve read, even though he has written so many of my best friends’ favorite book(s) of all time! And I’ll be honest, I was instantly completely captivated and enthralled by his writing and story crafting. I also love the Tennessee setting, the small town atmosphere, the poverty representation, and the spotlight on mental health more than I have words to express. But I was so torn on these two characters that it made for a truly strange reading experience that had me constantly conflicted at what to rate this story. (I’ll go into detail later in this review, but Delia’s storyline was easily five stars from me, where I still kind of want to hit Josie’s perspective with a one star!)
Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee is a story all about friendship, and growing up, and becoming the person you want to be, while surrounding yourself with people who unconditionally love you and who are willing to unconditionally support you. This tale focuses on two girls who have poured their hearts, their tears, their sweat, and many years into hosting Midnite Matinee, which is a show that is broadcasted on a few TV stations, where these two girls celebrate their mutual love for old horror movies. And these two girls, celebrating dated scary movies, have really carved out a piece of happiness for themselves and for so many watchers at home. Yet, their senior year of high school is steadily coming to a close, and they are both becoming more and more unsure of what the future of Midnite Matinee will be.
“Sometimes small and unspectacular things can be a universe.”
➽ Josie / Rayne – Feeling the weight of her parents’ expectations, while also trying to balance her dreams of a career on television. She is very unsure which university she wants to go to; the one her parents want for her, which also has a once in a lifetime opportunity, or staying close to her hometown so that she can still make the show with her best friend.
➽ Delia / Delilah – Living her life in fear that the people she loves will one day abandon her, after waking up to find her father gone when she was little. And she is trying to figure out if she is chasing her own dreams, or the dreams of a man who left her without a goodbye.
“Someday I’d love to know why the people with the least to lose are always losing the little they have.”
I would die for Delia. Completely. Her character was expertly done and she made me feel every emotion in the entire world. Josie? Not so much. I understand that you have to do what is right for you, and live the life you want to live, but Josie did so many things that I just thought were uncalled for and she really never seemed like a good friend or a good person, honestly.
There is also a romantic subplot with Josie and an MMA fighter who helped the girls on their show one night. His name is Lawson and I believe he is biracial (white and Latinx), and he was a joy to read. And between us? He could have done a whole hell of a lot better than Josie.
But we get to see both of these girls (and Lawson) got on a road trip to a horror convention, where they are going to put it all on the line, one last time, and try to make it big with their show. But during the trip, both girls learn a lot about themselves and the wounds they were pretending were healed.
I really loved how this book constantly talks about medication and normalizes the use of antidepressants. This is a constant theme for Delia and her mother, and this book also touches on how mental health issues can be passed down, and how it is important to make sure you are putting yourself and your mental health first and getting treatment.
“It wasn’t a perfect day, but it’s worth hanging on to.”
I will say that this book took a really unrealistic and very unexpected turn towards the end of the novel and it left a really weird taste in my mouth. It honestly felt straight up out of a cartoon or something, and I feel like it felt so out of place compared to the rest of the book.
I also feel like there was a last minute addition to this story that was very reminiscent of a John Green tearjerker moment, and… I don’t think the book needed it. Both girls (one likable, one not) and their struggles were valid and heartfelt enough to not add something that felt so out of the blue just to make the reader cry.
Overall, I really did enjoy this one. And I never really wanted to put it down. But that random, mustache twirling villain, and Josie being truly an insufferable character, I just can’t give this book more than a three star rating. But I am very excited to see what Jeff Zentner does next, and I am really looking forward to going back and reading his back-list, because this book truly held some of the most beautiful writing and a truly unforgettable character who I will carry with me forever.
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Content and trigger warnings for heavy abandonment, grief depiction, depression depiction, talk of suicide, brief mention of cancer, brief mention of loss of a loved one, and food and weight related things that could be potentially triggering.