Unable to cope with his parents’ divorce and his dad’s new girlfriend (his third grade teachers), 17 year old Alex, the main character in Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick, finds courage in a vodka bottle and decides to take his mom’s car over to his dad’s new house to finally confront him about his role in breaking up the marriage. But Alex doesn’t make it very far, crashing into a neighbor’s landscaping and destroying a yard gnome.
Court-ordered service hours are part of his consequence and Alex spends his evenings with a grouchy old man in a nursing home. Solomon Lewis is dying of emphysema and no match for Alex, but Alex sticks it out, learning much more than just the Yiddish Sol likes to spout.
While slightly predicable, Sonnenblick write a good story that teenages will enjoy and relate to. The lessons he learns about life (relationships with parents, girls, music) could be translated into any student’s life. This is definitely a book I’ll use in my classroom. A quick read with witty banter between characters, my students will enjoy Alex’s relationship (or, sometimes, lack of) with Sol and the tension between Alex and his best friend, Laurie. Although the characters are high school students, my middle schoolers will find it worth their time.