Book review by Aarene Storms: Just After Midnight

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Just After Midnight by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Faith leaves her abusive husband, and plans to spend a few weeks at a rental house on the California beach where she can regroup (and hide from Robert) where she meets 14-year-old Sarah, who is grieving both the death of her mom and the sale of a talented dressage horse she raised and trained herself.

Faith and Sarah become friends, and when Sarah reveals that her own father murdered his wife, they go together to a place where they can both be safe: the barns and yards of dressage trainers.

Many reviewers find the friendship believable but unlikely; clearly, these reviewers have not spent time with "horse girls" who thrive in the presence of all things equine. As a (supposedly) grown up horse girl myself, and as a friend of many other horse girls (of all ages), this friendship makes perfect sense.

Part mystery, part coming-of-age story, the plot becomes almost secondary to the character development, and I found myself becoming very attached to these characters and wanting the best possible outcome for them. It didn't hurt a bit that the author got the horse stuff right, which is rare in a book, and deserves an extra star just for the well-crafted details.

No car chases or explosions. Rather, this book is a quiet, sometimes painful exploration of friendship and personal growth.

Recommended for readers who know what it is to have a good friend (even if that friend isn't human) ages 12 to adult.

The events may not have happened; still, the story is true. --R. Silvern

Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach and Lake Forest Park Libraries, KCLS


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