Skip to main content

Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee


Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee

- Click here to read Becky N.'s review.

Review #1 by Cat Barra

Author Jeff Zentner’s third contemporary novel, RAYNE & DELILAH’S MIDNITE MATINEE, is a touching, laugh-out-loud story of friendship, love, family and coming-of-age.

Every Friday night, high school seniors and best friends Josie and Delia dress up as vampires to host a local public access TV show, doing all kinds of quirky things, from marrying their dogs off to acts with marionette puppets. In between their performances, they screen really bad cult horror films. But once the camera turns off, reality brings conflict to the duo’s lives. Josie’s parents have been pressuring her to attend a college five hours away so she can secure an internship with The Food Network to pursue her dream, but that would mean leaving the show...and Delia. To make things more complicated, she meets a boy named Lawson who is completely smitten with her and who Josie cannot help but like, but whom she would also have to leave behind. Delia’s father walked out on her and her mom 10 years ago, and she’s hired a private investigator to track him down. When the PI finds him, Delia has to decide if she wants to contact the man who left her behind.

"RAYNE & DELILAH’S MIDNITE MATINEE is an excellent contemporary novel that does not sacrifice heart for comedy....Zentner is perfectly capable of making [you] laugh and cry within a matter of pages."

The best part of the novel, by far, was the friendship between Josie and Delia. The world can never have too many stories with strong relationships between women. Josie and Delia’s friendship is palpable through the pages; their interactions simply radiate with love and understanding. Readers get the sense that the young women know each other inside out. They have similar ways of talking, they have like-minded senses of humor and a united goal in doing the show. They’re the kind of people who spend so much time together that they begin to adapt each other’s mannerisms. They’re together so often that a lot of time they end up talking about nothing, and yet they never run out of things to discuss and laugh about. Some of my favorite scenes were the text conversations between the two main characters, because even when they weren’t together, they had each other’s backs, which was very powerful to read.

Despite their similarities, however, Josie and Delia stand on their own as strong characters. Josie comes from a middle class family with two parents and a sister, and though she doesn’t particularly like horror films, she does have a knack for being on TV. She is confident in her abilities and wants to achieve greatness as a TV personality. Delia, on the other hand, lives with her mother in a trailer where they struggle to get by and her mom struggles with mental illness. Delia has pretty much resigned herself to a life of mediocrity, Midnite Matinee being her only exception to that. Between deciding what to do about her dad and the threat of Josie leaving, Delia must overcome the idea that she isn’t enough of a reason for people to stick around. This story is very much one about two young women making critical decisions that will shape their futures, and supporting each other along the way.

With all its trials and complications, Zentner’s story is powerful and relatable in its themes of friendship and change. RAYNE & DELILAH’S MIDNITE MATINEE is an excellent contemporary novel that does not sacrifice heart for comedy. Instead, readers will find that Zentner is perfectly capable of making them laugh and cry within a matter of pages. Teens and college students who are on the cusp of starting a new chapter in their lives will appreciate the depiction of this strange period of change in a teen’s life. The dialogue and characters are reminiscent of contemporary favorites like Rainbow Rowell and Becky Albertalli, with a twist to the more quirky side. I would recommend Zentner’s newest novel to anyone who has ever been scared of change, anyone who ever struggled with major life decisions, or anyone simply looking for a great story of friendship and support.

Review #2 by Becky A., Teen Board Member

RAYNE AND DELILAH’S MIDNITE MATINEE by Jeff Zentner is a sweet book about how quickly a stranger can become important, and how quickly someone important can become a stranger. RAYNE AND DELILAH’S MIDNITE MATINEE is for the mediocre, the unspecial, the ones who “try hard and come up short.”

Josie Howard, aka Rayne Ravenscroft, and Delia Wilkes, aka Delilah Darkwood, are best friends who happen to host a horror show called Midnite Matinee on public access television. They show old, low budget (and kind of awful) horror movies, accompanied by witty comments from their alternate personas. Josie wants to make it big in the television world; Delia hopes her father will find her show and remember how their life used to be before he abandoned his family. Josie has a great opportunity for college --- but she’d have to leave behind Delia and their show. To add to her already tough decision, there’s Lawson, a tough MMA fighter with a soft spot for Josie.

"RAYNE AND DELILAH’S MIDNITE MATINEE takes tough subjects and makes them less unbearable with humor. It’s a cute story about making hard decisions and sticking with them."

Then Josie and Delia find out about an opportunity that could be their chance to make it big in the world of horror hosting. It’s their chance to keep the show going, to stop Josie from leaving. That is to say, it’s a big deal to them. Will meeting famous horror host Jack Devine solve everything? Can their friendship survive the growing pains?

Josie and Delia are both very quick witted and love to joke. They throw metaphors around left and right that are unexpected and unconventional, yet make perfect sense, which added a lot to the style and humor of the book. Josie and Delia both have flaws but they love each other and the things they’re passionate about. I think Josie and Delia are a good literary example of real friends, and Zentner did a good job of writing them. You can totally tell that these characters are friends, and it doesn’t feel forced.

One thing I noticed about this book that I wasn’t fond of, was that the humor seemed a little forced. It was funny, but I kind of felt like the humor was being thrown into my face --- especially with the recurring jokes --- instead of subtly being tossed in and making me laugh.

My favorite thing about this book is that neither Josie nor Delia was special. They accomplished great things, and they made something of themselves, but overall they were pretty normal. Neither one of them is that different from you or I. I found that to be inspiring. It served as a reminder that our silly hobbies aren’t so ridiculous after all.

RAYNE AND DELILAH’S MIDNITE MATINEE takes tough subjects and makes them less unbearable with humor. It’s a cute story about making hard decisions and sticking with them. RAYNE AND DELILAH’S MIDNITE MATINEE is not a short book, but it isn’t hard to read. I recommend it to those looking for a story that will make them feel every emotion, from disgust and anger, to love and happiness. This book is way more fun than holding in a fart, which will make more sense once you read!

Reviewed by Cat Barra and Becky N., Teen Board Member on March 19, 2019

Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee
by Jeff Zentner