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Notes from the Midnight Driver
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Notes from the Midnight Driver

4.5 119
by Jordan Sonnenblick

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"Alex Peter Gregory, you are a moron!” Laurie slammed her palms down on my desk and stomped her foot. I get a lot of that.
One car crash.
One measly little car crash. And suddenly, I’m some kind of convicted felon.
My parents are getting divorced, my dad is shacking up with my third-grade teacher, I


"Alex Peter Gregory, you are a moron!” Laurie slammed her palms down on my desk and stomped her foot. I get a lot of that.
One car crash.
One measly little car crash. And suddenly, I’m some kind of convicted felon.
My parents are getting divorced, my dad is shacking up with my third-grade teacher, I might be in love with a girl who could kill me with one finger, and now I’m sentenced to babysit some insane old guy.
What else could possibly go wrong?
This is the story of Alex Gregory, his guitar, his best gal pal Laurie, and the friendship of a lifetime that he never would have expected.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie :
"A brave book . . . Jordan Sonnenblick carries it off with such charm and elan, you forget for a moment your heart is breaking." --Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes

• "Sonnenblick shows that even in the midst of tragedy, life goes on, love can flower, and the one thing you can always change is yourself." --Booklist, starred review
"The reader falls in love with the brothers, laughing and crying by turns and rooting for both of them until it almost hurts." --Kirkus Reviews
Praise for After Ever After :

• “As hilarious as it is tragic, and as honest as it is hopeful, don’t confuse this book with inspirational reading. It’s irresistible reading.” --Booklist, starred review

• “Sonnenblick’s intimate first-person tale of survival . . . will leave an emotional, uplifting imprint.” --School Library Journal, starred review
“Jordan Sonnenblick continues Jeffrey’s story in his signature style using an authentic teenage voice and laugh-out-loud humor.” --TeensReadToo.com
Praise for Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip:
“Jordan Sonnenblick scores a home run with Curveball as he continues what he does best: getting to the core of issues that resonate with teens in a style that’s direct and witty.” --Book Page

• “Sonnenblick again shows an adept ability to tackle big-deal life issues, treat them seriously and believably, and filter them into a high-spirited, even fun story.” --Booklist, starred review

• “The novel is populated with kind, vulnerable characters who care about each other, and the thoroughly enjoyable mix of sports, art, family drama, and budding romance will have readers invested in Peter’s struggles to accept his new world…” --Publishers Weekly, starred review
Praise for Notes from the Midnight Driver:

• “[A] funny, bittersweet tour de force.” --Booklist, starred review

• “Readers [will be] nodding with recognition, sighing in sympathy, and gasping with laughter--often on the same page.” --The Horn Book, starred review

• “Sonnenblick revisits several key themes from his debut novel, Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie, to even greater effect here.” --Publishers Weekly, starred review
Praise for Zen and the Art of Faking It:

• “Wildly funny.” -- Kliatt, starred review
“This light-hearted situation comedy is peppered with genuine Zen insight.” --Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Hilarious and heart-wrenching.” --Kirkus Reviews
“The writing is fresh, the characters appealing, and it looks like the author has another hit.” --Oakland Tribune

Publishers Weekly
Sonnenblick revisits several key themes from his debut novel, Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie, to even greater effect here. Narrator Alex Gregory starts off by describing his maiden drinking episode: getting drunk alone, hijacking his mother's car in order to drive to his father's house and give the man a piece of his mind (his parents are separated), and taking an unplanned detour into a neighbor's yard, destroying a lawn gnome. What begins as humor takes on darker implications as the book progresses. Not because Alex has a drinking problem (he never takes another sip in the course of the book), but because of a drunk driver's impact on Sol Lewis, the resident of a nursing home to whom Alex is assigned by Judge J. Trent as part of his community service for his crime. Like Steven's Annette in Drums, Alex's female best friend, Laurie, sticks by him throughout this challenging time. And Sol, who starts out crotchety, turns out to be much wiser below the surface, and far more complicated. He even suggests to Alex that there may be more to the teen's relationship with Laurie than friendship. The bond that guitar-playing forges between Alex and Sol serves not only to make them peers musically, but also personally, allowing Sol to reveal his own past. While readers may figure out the significance of Alex's judge to the broader story before the hero does, they will likely find the ending no less satisfying. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Mary Beth Hutchinson
You realize quickly that the story is riding on rails. The track is neatly laid and predictable. You already know your final destination and every stop along the way. There are moments when the book does strike true chords and makes you laugh out loud (Sol's appearances in particular). But the jokes, coincidences, and characters all seem neatly engineered to bring you smoothly to the "important lessons" you are supposed to be learning.
VOYA - Diane Tuccillo
When sixteen-year-old Alex, in despair over the breakup of his parents, decides to get drunk and drive, he causes an accident that thankfully has as its only "victim" the garden gnome from someone's front lawn. Alex winds up in juvenile court and is assigned community service helping Sol, an old man in a nursing home. At first, Alex balks about being assigned to such a cranky and seemingly obnoxious person, but soon he discovers the man's secret past, the true meaning of friendship, and what is really important in life. As in his first novel, Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie (DayBue Publishing, 2004/VOYA December 2004; reprint Scholastic, 2005), Sonnenblick strikingly depicts serious situations while effectively balancing them with well integrated humor and even budding romance. Readers of the first book will recognize Steven and Annette's reappearance in this one through a musical connection with Alex and Sol. By means of realistic dialogue and unique although somewhat predictable plot twists, the well-drawn characters come alive. Intergenerational stories about relationships between teens and the elderly-even carefully crafted ones-do not always strike a chord with young adults, but Sonnenblick breaks the mold and provides a tale to which teens can easily relate.
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Having seriously messed himself up by getting drunk and decapitating a garden gnome with his mom's car, sixteen-year-old Alex is assigned to a nursing home for his community service sentence: one hundred hours with Sol Lewis, the crankiest, most unapproachable member of the old folks' community. Alex relates the events of his epic junior year with first-person fervor. Getting past the accident, there's his parents' divorce (which precipitated his ill-fated night ride); his mixed emotions about his best friend, kung fu master Laurie; his attempts to keep up with his high school jazz band. Then there's Sol. Mr. "Gotcha!" gets under Alex's skin—then into his heart. Along the way to the rousing and touching ending of his tale, Alex does a lot of growing up. Along the way, too, the author creates some marvelous characters. Sonnenblick has a gift for dialogue and for caring, but never descends to schmaltz, as Sol would phrase it. This is a page-turner adventure of the heart.
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
It seems like a good idea at the time, but that might have something to do with all the vodka Alex drank: he jumps into his mother's car, intending to go tell off his father for leaving the family, and promptly crashes it. Ordered to do community service by a judge, the now very sober 16-year-old is assigned to visit a difficult elderly man named Sol at a local senior center. Grumpy Sol insults Alex relentlessly in Yiddish and in English, but the two slowly start to bond, especially when Alex, who plays the guitar, plans a musical show at the center and discovers that Sol was a famous musician. This funny tale by the author of the acclaimed Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie is genuinely heartwarming and entertaining, in the best senses of the words; as the publisher suggests, it's a sort of Tuesdays with Morrie for a younger audience. A real winner for all YA collections.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-After drinking some vodka and taking his mom's car for a spin to his father's girlfriend's house, who just happens to be his former third-grade teacher, 16-year-old Alex Gregory finds himself on his neighbors' lawn with police yelling at him and a broken gnome under his car. It is hard to believe that Alex would do anything like this; most of the time he hangs out with his friend Laurie, a sassy petite karate expert, and plays guitar in the school jazz band. He is also trying to get over his parents' recent split. For drinking and driving, Alex is sentenced to 100 hours of community service at a nursing home with Solomon Lewis. Sol is a difficult, crotchety, eccentric old man with emphysema who lashes out at Alex in strange Yiddish phrases. Soon Alex grows found of Sol, who teaches him something about the guitar, respecting the elderly, and taking responsibility for his actions. Alex's voice is fresh and funny, but doesn't downplay the serious situations. The other characters in the book are well defined and add interesting touches to the story. Fans of Sonnenblick's Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie (Turning Tide, 2004) will be pleased with this follow-up book in which Steven and Annette make a few brief appearances.-Shannon Seglin, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sonnenblick's sophomore effort opens with Alex, a 16-year-old guitar-playing wise guy drunkenly crashing his mom's car into a neighbor's lawn gnome. Alex is immediately arrested for underage DUI, and is sentenced, by a Judge Judy no less, to do community-service time in a nursing home. There he must keep company with belligerent, emphysema-ridden, raspy senior citizen Sol Lewis, who takes nothing but pleasure in torturing his young caregiver. Not surprisingly, the two grow closer and closer as the days wear on. Alex gives Sol companionship; Sol gives Alex advice on guitar playing, getting girls and pretty much any other teen problem he might have-each of which wrap up way too neatly in the end. Sonnenblick injects this overused, stale plotline, some of which seems to be repeated from his debut, with an upbeat, punchy style that is both funny and contemporary. It all feels too heartwarming to be true, but his fresh, unique insight into the teen voice will keep the readers chuckling and the pages turning. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.06(w) x 7.07(h) x 0.62(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Jordan Sonnenblick is the author of the acclaimed teen novels Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, Notes from the Midnight Driver, and Zen and the Art of Faking it. In addition to being a writer, he’s a middle-school English teacher and would never penalize one of his students for bringing an imaginary friend to school. Jordan lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with his wife and their two children. If he’s ever had an imaginary friend, he’s not telling! You can visit him on the Web at www.jordansonnenblick.com.

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Notes from the Midnight Driver 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 119 reviews.
Book_Worm_1998 More than 1 year ago
I loved the story! It is about a boy named Alex, who's dad is dating his third grade teacher. He is at home alone, gets drunk, and tries to drive to his dad's house. But instead he crashes, and hits the neighbors garden gnome. In court, it is decided that he has to do community service by visiting a man named Solomon Lewis in a nursing home. It has a very good ending, and I enjoyed it. It was really interesting, and there was also a lot of sarcasm in the book. If you don't like sarcasm, this is not the book for you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The reviews I read on this book were mostly positive. People saying this book was hilarious and a great read but I didn't find the humor in it and I didn't like this book. I could see how people thought Sol was humorous because he is so straight forward and brash but I personally didn't. Also its never good to keep hoping the book will get better while you're reading it...I was doing that. Don't get me wrong, I love music but I don't wanna read 100 pages of how they are playing their instruments and whatnot. Just wasn't feeling it at all. Maybe because there weren't any cliffhangers or intense parts in the book so it didn't keep me interested. Very repeatitive throughout. There were good lessons to learn from this book, don't drink and drive and to appreciate your family, friends, etc. The ending was sad yet a happy ending. You can see how much Alex is changing throughout the book. I could've done without this book. Hate reading lame books. Boo.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg i love this book! It is such a good heart warming read! If your looking for something fresh cute and a little romantic but still a bit edgy this is perfect! Great for girls and guys! Totlay recomend this book!
Jimmy217 More than 1 year ago
Getting drunk and crashing into a lawn gnome isn't the best thing that can happen in your life. But however, meeting a who he thought was a grumpy old man, and sharing his pain, and understanding each other is something that is valuable in your life experience. Alex Gregory, a teenage kid with parent issues, has rebelled on his mom's first date with his third grade teacher, except he kind of failed and crashed into a lawn gnome. This, however, caused his mom's date to be ruined and lead into another big fight with his parents. This was bad, but things seemed to sink into the dark when the judge assigned him 100 hours of community service at a nursing home, and that's not it. He has to nurse the grumpiest, sensitive, twisted sense of humored man who mixes up Hebrew as he speaks, Sol. Every single day nursing Sol gave Alex more burden as he couldn't find a dearth of human in this man. That was until Alex brought his special gift from his dad to the place, a Tele Guitar. Sol and Alex see that they share something in common, and they gradually become best friends. The 100 hours flies by as Alex becomes what seems to be more than friends with Laurie, his best friend. Alex decides to make an event for the people in nursing home, his own Jazz concert with the CHA-KINGS (musical geniuses). As the story progresses, he realizes that knowing people isn't one thing, but bonding with others, and sharing love is a big factor that can change lives. This book is a great read for all people, young and old. The parents issue might be a bit too mature for young people, but I think they can handle it. 'Notes from the Midnight Driver' is a fast paced book, so if you'd like to kill some time, grab this book now. You may realize you're doing something far greater than killing time by the end. If you're a writer looking for some techniques you could use, you should look at Jordan Sonnenblick, the author of this book. She's one of the only authors that I know who can blend in clever, witty humor and dramatic somberness in the same book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So this book may seem a little slow in the beggining (besides the "accident"), but in the middle and end it really pulls you in. Please don't stop the book early if it seems boring at first. Notes from the Midnight Driver is now my favorite Jordan Sonnenblick book. He is so amazing at grasping at your feelings and creating sudden changes in emotion. As another review has said... if you don't understand much sarcasm, this may be a struggling read for you. Also, you may need to be more on the mature side to read this because- well I don't want to ruin the book but I would reccomend ages 10/11+ to read this unless you're mature. I hope this review was helpful!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I was pleasantly surprised it could be enjoyed from all ages. With hilarious dialogue and quirks, I say bravo to a wonderful and heartfelt book. You will surely fall in love with Alex and Sol.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great it was awsome! I totally loved this book! This book was sad at the end but it does have some happy parts. I totally recomend this book! :D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What did he do wrong to get in trouble?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
such an amazing read. one of my favorites!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Notes From a Midnight Driver is about a boy named Alex Gregory who screw up big time. His parents are divorced and he blames it on his dad. One night, when his mom is on a date, he gets drunk and takes his moms car and is driving to his dad's house. There are two problems with his plan though. The first problem is that he is completely wasted and can hardly walk in a straight line. The second problem is that he has no driver's license. On his ride to his dad's house he sways off the road and crashes into a person's yard. When the police arrive all they see is a drunk 16 year old with no license. They pull Alex out of the car and hand cuff him while putting him in the cruiser. While in court Alex pleads guilty to the charge of drunk driving and is sentenced to 100 hours of community service at an old people's home. He is assigned to a man named Solomon Lewis (Sol). At first Solomon is hard on Alex and likes to pick on him but as the story goes on they find out they have one very common interest. Jazz. What Alex doesn't know is that Solomon was a very good jazz player when he was younger, but when he finds out Sol offers him lessons which he takes. As the story goes on it takes a few little twists and turns. One of which is Sol having a daughter. The book Notes From a Midnight Driver was not my favorite book in the world. Out of five stars I would give it a three. I would give it a three because going by the title I would have guessed that there would have been more notes. There are a few notes here and there but not like you would expect. Also going by descriptions that I have read online it seems a lot funnier than it really is. It turns out that the story is deep and in some parts depressing. Although there are a lot of things that I didn't like there are also things I did. I liked the character change in the story. Sol and Alex change a lot. So in the end I probably gave it a three because it was a letdown. I expected more out of the book. I do not recommend this book to someone looking for a funny read that will make them laugh on every page. I would recommend this book to someone who likes books that take on strange twists.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It really touched my heart. It is a good story. Read it.
LGroten More than 1 year ago
There is so much that is wrong with this book.  It is recommended for ages 12 and up.  The positive reviews talk about the cranky but humorous Sol and the deft way that the author dealt with a rather stale plot line.  Honestly, I found the book both poorly written and in appallingly bad taste.  Maybe the protagonist's first experience with drunk driving ended up with no one getting hurt but treating drunk driving humorously???  It is the No. 1 killer of teens in America.  There is nothing funny about it.   There is also nothing funny about Alex's father having an affair with his third grade teacher.  Drunk driving and adultery with a former teacher?  Yup,  there is a rip roaring yarn that I want all my children to read.  Thank goodness there is better literature out there for this age group.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kiss your hand three times and repost thi on three diffrent books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like alex crane more though. :p
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing book that everyone should read!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this ages ago. Has been a favorite for a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Drunk as in!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like this book...we are reading it in class and its awesome...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago