Saturday 27 April 2019

A Review: Jeff Zentner's Rayne & Delilah's Midnight Matinee

Hi, and thanks for stopping by.

Today's post is a review of another wonderful 5-star read I discovered (back in March) and wanted to share some of the details of with you. Jeff Zentner's Rayne and Delilah's Midnight Matinee is a story about friendship, family, the future & the fine line between all of the aforementioned. The only other book I'd read by Jeff before this was Goodbye Days, which I enjoyed (I gave it 4-stars, I think) but this story was on a different level entirely, to me.

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.

“But the thing with a best friend is that you’re never talking about nothing. Even when you’re talking about nothing, it’s something. The times when you think you’re talking about nothing, you’re actually talking about how you have someone with whom you can talk about nothing, and it’s fine.” 

My favourite part of this novel by far was the friendship between Delia and Josie - I think this was partly because their conversations (particularly the rapport in text messages) reminded me a lot of one of my best friends. I loved both characters equally, which I feel is somewhat rare. They were both intelligent, confident, funny and interesting individuals with interests and loyalties and a wonderful relationship with one another. It was a friendship that felt beautiful to read in all of its perfection, but also realistic, considering their disagreements and fallings out (there was no melodrama but also no fairytale cliches). The best way to describe the way I felt about these two girls is that be friends with them in a second.

“Most of all, I think it’s people who love to be reminded that sometimes you do your best and you come up short, but there’s still a place in the world for people like that.” 

I think the storyline of Delia wanting to find her father was perfectly pitched. It felt real; the expectations, the anxieties, the guilt & loyalty issue where her mother was concerned, and then the sad reality of the situation. The sympathy I had for Delia was mammoth. I also loved the way it triggered the tension & development of the relationship shared between Delia and her mother - in fact, I almost wish we'd seen more of this. Similarly, the issues Josie was having with deciding how she wanted her future to look and how to make decisions that were true to her without hurting people she loved, were written very well. The way these issues came to head, simultaneously, was painful (in a good way!) and it was literally impossible to choose a side, because both characters are so sympathetic and understandable (and, also, equally at fault for different things at different times). 

“No one ever says on their deathbed they wish they’d loved fewer people.”

Romance is pretty minor in the novel as a whole, I think - yet the Josie & Lawson storyline worked perfectly. I liked that Lawson was just this kind of cheesy, passionate person who Josie thought of as not necessarily being "beneath" her, but too much for her, too kind for her, too mainstream perhaps for her, and he just completely turns that around. I feel like she really deserved someone as lovely as him, especially considering the details we learn about some of her more questionable exes. 

“For a long time I shined my light for someone other than me. But not anymore. Now I shine bright for me. You can create light even when everyone's left you behind because that's what you do. It's what I do.”

Alternately, I liked that Delia's character feels so whole without a romance arc (she does worry about being on her own and what that means about her, but as an outsider she's just so colourful on her own, you almost don't really wish for that for her, in some ways) but I also really loved the way her future was hinted at in the closing chapters (not necessarily romantically) and we get the sense that she's branching out even more and becoming more and more confident in her own skin, deservedly so.

And there are so many other cool things about this book, like the way that hobbies/passions/interests of different kinds are so important to our teenage protagonists & characters and some of the disastrous antics they get up to. Mostly though, if you read this book, I promise you'll laugh and find characters you want to support and love the entire experience.

“I’m glad things end, though. It forces you to love them ferociously while you have them. There’s nothing worth having that doesn’t die.” 

 Till next time


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