81 pages 2 hours read

Jordan Sonnenblick

Notes From The Midnight Driver

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2006

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Summary and Study Guide


The novel opens on Alex choosing to get drunk and drive to his father’s in order to get revenge. Alex’s parents are recently divorced after his father starts to date Alex’s third-grade teacher. After crashing his mother’s car into a garden gnome, a very drunk Alex is taken into the police station and then transferred to the hospital with a concussion and alcohol poisoning. Alex’s mother grounds him for a month, until a judge punishes him with 100 hours of community service at the nursing home where Alex’s mother works.

Alex is assigned to spend his 100 hours with Mr. Solomon Lewis, or Sol, a cranky elderly man with emphysema. Over the early hours of Alex’s time with Sol, Alex struggles to understand Sol’s intense sarcasm and speech peppered with Yiddish phrases. Meanwhile, Alex deals with his awkwardness at school and struggles to understand his budding feelings for his best friend, Laurie, a beautiful, athletic girl who hides her figure beneath goth clothing.

The novel moves towards conflict as Alex tries to do something nice for Sol by throwing a benefit concert. Alex’s weaknesses as a musician are exposed and he struggles with insecurity and a lack of emotional maturity. Alex’s parents add to the heightened emotion by deciding that they are going to try dating again; simultaneously, Laurie struggles with her own divorced parents and her mother getting pregnant in a new relationship.

Alex works with talented teenage musicians Steve and Annette and begins changing his perspective on other people. After a failed Valentine’s Day dance, Alex begins coming to terms with his feelings for Laurie and his emotional attachment towards Sol. When Alex gifts Sol his own Telecaster guitar, Sol returns the favor by gifting Alex his beautiful hand-embellished guitar from his career as a traveling musician. Around this time, Alex also discovers the truth of Sol’s past: a drunk driver killed Sol’s wife, and he and his daughter, Judy, remain estranged as a result.

Sol’s health worsens by April as he and Alex prepare to throw a second benefit concert. At the concert, the judge Alex has been reporting to finally attends, sitting in the front row. When Sol and Alex play “Sunrise, Sunset,” the judge breaks her silence and reveals herself to be Sol’s daughter, Judy. In the weeks after the concert, Sol is hospitalized, and Judy visits every day. The novel closes on Alex playing at Sol’s memorial service, illustrating his improved musical skills and emotional growth.