Skip to main content

Notes from the Midnight Driver

Review

Notes from the Midnight Driver

The headless gnome was not Alex's fault; it was his mother's. Or maybe his father's. Either way, if his father hadn't run off with his third-grade teacher, then his mother wouldn't be on a date and Alex wouldn't need to get drunk by himself, steal his mother's car and smash a $500 lawn gnome. As far as Alex is concerned, he shouldn't be punished for the damage, but that's not how his mother, his lawyer and the juvenile court judge see it.

To pay back the $500, Alex must do 100 hours of community service at a local nursing home. There, he is assigned to be a companion to Sol, a man known for his cantankerous nature and ability to make volunteers run home in tears. Sol frustrates Alex, but he can't get the judge to change her mind about the assignment. It's looking like the longest 100 hours of Alex's life --- until the day he plays his guitar for Sol.

As Sol and Alex bond over music, Alex learns that Sol wasn't always the cranky old man he is today. Sol had an interesting career, along with a wife and daughter, but now the flowers he buys every Hanukkah for his daughter go untouched. Despite his own troubles regarding human relationships, Sol is convinced that Alex should be in a romantic relationship with his best friend Laurie. Alex, however, isn't so sure. This is martial-arts expert, known-him-forever Laurie, who is going to the Sadie Hawkins dance with someone who certainly isn't Alex. Laurie couldn't possibly like him. Or could she?

Alex may annoy readers, but his story is delightful. Jordan Sonnenblick, a teacher, was inspired to write this book by all those he heard saying things like, "I'm sorry, but..." and "I'm sorry if..." Alex, like the people who make qualitative apologies, doesn't want to take responsibility for anything he does. It's always someone else's fault, and there are always excuses, never apologies, to be made. Forced to face up to a decapitated lawn gnome and a judge who won't let him off the hook for his crime, Alex starts to see that love, truth and responsibility are powerful things --- maybe almost as powerful as one of Laurie's karate kicks.

Reviewed by Carlie Webber on October 1, 2006

Notes from the Midnight Driver
by Jordan Sonnenblick

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0439757797
  • ISBN-13: 9780439757812