The Midnight Children by Dan Gemeinhart
Publication Date: August 30, 2022
Summary from NetGalley:
In the dead of night, a truck arrives in Slaughterville, a small town curiously named after its windowless slaughterhouse. Seven mysterious kids with suitcases step out of the vehicle and into an abandoned home on a dead-end street, looking over their shoulders to make sure they aren’t noticed.
But Ravani Foster covertly witnesses their arrival from his bedroom window. Timid and lonely, Ravani is eager to learn everything he can about his new neighbors: What secrets are they hiding? And most mysterious of all…where are the adults?
Yet amid this shadowy group of children, Ravani finds an unexpected friend in the warm and gutsy Virginia. But with this friendship comes secrets revealed—and danger. When Ravani learns of a threat to his new friends, he must fight to keep them safe, or lose the only person who has ever understood him.
Full of wonder, friendship, and mystery, The Midnight Children explores the meaning of “home,” what makes a family, and what it takes to find the courage to believe in yourself.
ARC provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing group via Netgalley for an honest review.
This is the sixth book by this author and they have all been wonderful. Mr. Gemeinhart has a way of writing believable characters that will tug at your heartstrings while at the same time having a plot that will leave you breathless with anticipation of what might happen next. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
Ravani is a very lonely boy who is bullied and misunderstood by almost everyone, including his parents. Until he meets Virginia, one of the mysterious children who have moved into the empty house across the street. Their friendship is strengthened through adventures and a very important secret that he learns about her and her family. I loved how their friendship grew over the course of the book and how that friendship is almost destroyed by the secret that Ravani tries to protect at all costs.
This story is inhabited by some wonderful and slightly quirky characters, especially the townspeople that Ravani and Virginia interact with. Everyone in this town is affected by this group of children and their somewhat magical ability to see the good in everyone. I even quite liked the hunter, who doesn’t have a name, and I appreciated that he also was able to change a little by the end.
Even though I was pretty sure how this story was going to end, I certainly enjoyed the ride getting there. The plot moves along at a natural pace with a lot of touching scenes between Ravi, his parents and the other children as well as Virginia. There are a few scenes concerning the slaughterhouse which may be hard from some children, but even these are handled with care not to be too scary. The bullying scenes are also well done and we are even given some sense as to why Donnie, the bully, does what he does.
This is a wonderful story of friendship, found family and telling the truth, even when it might hurt a friend. There is some magical realism which just adds to the wonderful story. I also loved that the whole town was changed for the better in very subtle ways. Another great story by one of my favorite authors.