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June 8, 2012

My Own Summer Nightmare

Kody Keplinger is the author of A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE, which was released on June 5th. She was only 17 when she wrote her debut novel, THE DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend), which was an ALA 2011 Quick Picks selection. She grew up in a small town in Kentucky, where she began her writing career. When she isn't writing, she enjoys going to the theater, hanging out in bookstores, and eating Thai food. Kody currently lives in New York City, where she can do all of those things regularly. You can find out more about Kody and her books on her website:
My summers have never been about going to the beach or taking amazing vacations.  I went to Disney World once when I was fourteen, and that was the biggest thing I’d ever done.  Growing up poor in a tiny, southern town didn’t exactly make summer a blast. For some kids, it meant working in tobacco farms. For others it meant taking a summer job.  And for all, it meant humid, hot, Kentucky weather. 
In my new book, A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHTMARE, Whitley discovers that her dad is getting remarried and has a whole new family that she doesn’t quite fit into. Worse, her new stepbrother is a boy she hooked up with on graduation night. Trapped in a house with a future-stepsibling that has seen her naked and a dad who doesn’t seem to even notice her, the nightmare really begins for Whitley.  So today I got to thinking --- what was my biggest summer nightmare?
Like I said --- summers were never about “fun” where I lived. That’s not to say they weren’t enjoyable. I miss my hometown in the summer. Sweet tea or lemonade, being barefoot in the grass, listening to the crickets at night.  It was simple, but nice.  Still, my first summer outside of Kentucky was a big deal for me. And I was sure it would be the best. Summer. Ever.
In some ways, it was.  But in others, it was nightmarish.
My first summer away from home was spent in New York City, where I now live.  I was between my freshman and sophomore years of college and I was living in an NYU dorm while interning downtown.  The summer was set to be fabulous.  I was ready to be Carrie from Sex and the City and really embrace my Manhattan-loving inner fashionista.
That’s not exactly what happened.
I did fall in love with NYC in the end (I mean, I moved here!) but it wasn’t without a few bumps that summer.  The first half of the summer was an absolute nightmare. I lived in a three-room dorm with four other girls and no AC.  Turns out, NYC can be just as bad as Kentucky when you don’t have air conditioner.  I shared a room with two other girls, and there was no living room, so if you wanted escape, you had to leave the dorm.  There was no privacy.
I was ready to deal with all of that.  But then one of my roommates ended up being an absolute jerk.  Think Valley Girl voice, only she was from Connecticut.  Think stunningly beautiful --- killer body, great hair, boys all over her.  Think Miss Looks-Down-Her-Nose-At-Everyone.  That’s who I was living with.
Now, I don’t know what I did to make her hate me, but she did.  She refused to speak to me or acknowledge me, though she’d talk to the other girls in the dorm like they were best friends.  Between her hostility and the lack of cool air, I was going crazy.  I loved the city and my internship, but I missed home.  I missed friendly smiles and sweet tea and the air conditioner!
It’s not as bad as having slept with your soon-to-be stepbrother, but sharing a bedroom with a girl like that is stressful.  Especially when I was supposed to be both writing and working all summer, mostly from that dorm where I was so uncomfortable. After a few more weeks and a few moments where I felt unsafe in my own space, my nightmare ended.  I moved.
I ended up three blocks away in a bigger apartment, with A/C, and three girls who were AWESOME.  The girl I shared a room with taught me so much about my own views on people and relationships.  Suddenly, the nightmare had turned to an amazing dream --- one where I was happy in Manhattan, living the good life.
We all have a nightmare summer, though some are worse than others.  Mine is definitely pretty mild compared to Whitley’s. That’s for sure.  While summer can be awesome, it can also be a total drag.  Hopefully, this summer will be the best yet, though. For all of us.