Published: 5 April 2021
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Young Adult Literature, Bildungsroman*
* Bildungsroman is a coming-of-age story
Available as: Hardcover, Audiobook
As an audiobook, Middletown consists of 28 tracks narrated by Hope Newhouse with a total length of 5 hours and 54 minutes. The story opens with thirteen year old Eli sleeping with her seventeen year old sister, Anna, while waiting for her mom to come home after a night of drinking. This time, their mom is caught drunk driving for the second time and is sentenced to mandatory rehab for at least 90 days. Anna and Eli struggle to find money to pay the bills and feed themselves while attending school and navigating parent-teacher conferences. On top of this, Eli has feelings for one of her best friends, Mina. At the same time, she finds out that Anna was sexually harassed by the coach at her high school and tries to encourage other girls to speak up. When the schools try to get in contact with a guardian and send a social worker to their home, Anna and Eli run away to try and find a place where they belong.
I would recommend this text to young adults and adults who enjoy texts with a female protagonist, an LGBTQ+ protagonist, and any of the genres mentioned above. There were two aspects that I enjoyed: the inter-generational family dynamic and ending. The first is that the story described how several generations of females of Eli and Anna’s family struggled with addiction. This emphasizes how addiction can originate from both genetics and socialization making it difficult to engage in rehabilitation. It also has a message of resilience and that even when another family member is struggling, it is important for the sibling, child, or partner of that family member to remember to continue to live and thrive rather than just survive. The second aspect was the ending. I enjoyed how the text came full circle and the siblings are hugging in bed at the end similar to the beginning. The pacing and progression allows readers to check in with the characters at different points in time so I appreciate the addition of the epilogue which ties up the loose ends but also leaves me curious how Mina and Eli’s relationship progresses.
Overall Rating: 🌕🌕🌕🌗
3.5 – Satisfying ending
Ending: 🌕🌕🌕🌕 – 4/5
Plot: 🌕🌕🌕🌗- 3.5/5
World-building: 🌕🌕🌕- 3/5
Characters: 🌕🌕🌕🌗- 3.5/5
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