Book Review – Around Midnight by Zarina Macha

First published, 2020
(Today, in fact)

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

In Around Midnight, Megan has recently moved to London with her parents, in order to make the journey to and from the London School of Jazz simpler and more cost-effective, if and when she is accepted to the prestigious institution. In a new environment and an unfamiliar sixth form, Megan quickly falls for bad boy, Vince, despite her new friends’ warnings.

Anyone who is familiar with Zarina Macha’s writing style knows what a treat awaits them. Compelling characters, haunting prose, drama that feels very real.

I felt absolutely dreadful for Megan – in her isolation, truly wanting to lose her virginity to her boyfriend, but with the lingering fear that if she doesn’t, he will get annoyed and leave her. My heart ached for this character.

Vince is an awful boyfriend, arch manipulator, nasty piece of work, totally believable. The way he tries to make her obvious emotional turmoil a symptom of her privilege, rather than an emblem of his shoddy treatment of her was incredible. I despised him for doing it, but loved the way Zarina wrote him – regularly speaking about his previous girlfriends, making it completely understandable that Megan is racked with worries and conflict about her future, and it’s so subtly done.

The political references frame the story nicely in time, although for me, they felt a little heavy-going. That said, Zarina has such a talent for metaphor. I always enjoy her work. After Midnight does not disappoint.

The dad character is measured and likeable. I love the hairdressers. Every character rings true.

My favourite line was:
‘Megan shrugged. “If we looked like what we were, the world would be a different place.”’
Chapter 29, Page 109, Around Midnight, Zarina Macha

If you enjoy strong characters, emotional conflict and young adult fiction, go and look at Zarina Macha’s books. Recommended.